Learning success with its own AI learning buddy - IU personalises education with artificial intelligence
As the first and so far only university in Germany, IU International University of Applied Sciences is now using its AI learning buddy "Syntea" in almost all online courses and offers AI courses in all degree programmes
In the future, IU students will benefit from Syntea in more than 1,100 online courses.
- IU students will benefit from Syntea in more than 1,100 online courses.
- The AI learning buddy supports students individually in their learning - around the clock, at their personal pace - and with exam-validated answers.
- State-of-the-art technology: Syntea - like ChatGPT - works generatively, refining its ability to answer complex questions comprehensively in an academic context.
- In addition, IU now offers its students elective courses in artificial intelligence in all degree programmes, as an essential key competence for tomorrow's job market.
Erfurt, Germany, 21 November 2023. IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU), the largest university in Germany with more than 100,000 students, is a pioneer in the use of AI in education. As the first and so far only university in Germany, it is now using AI-supported learning on an even larger scale for its students. After the learning buddy Syntea, which was specially developed by IU, was introduced for the first time in all English-language online courses in November 2022, German-speaking students will now also benefit from the AI-supported learning assistance. By the end of September 2023, Syntea will be available in more than 1,100 online courses. Complementing the academic teaching with more than 670 professors and over 1,000 tutors, lecturers and study advisors, Syntea presents itself as a valuable optional additional offer for students. IU thus underlines its leading role in personalised, digital education that is accessible to all people.
"Our AI-based learning buddy is a milestone on the road to modern higher education. It represents our core belief that we can fundamentally change education for the better through the use of technology and enables us to think learning in a completely new way: students can now ask their individual questions online and receive an answer immediately - no matter where they are and when they are learning. This brings us a big step closer to our mission of making education as individual as possible," says Dr Sven Schütt, CEO of IU International University of Applied Sciences.
Syntea acts as a sophisticated, personalised AI learning assistant that responds to learners' needs and preferences. Syntea provides answers to individually posed questions about the learning material in a matter of seconds, which are checked by teachers in a short time. In doing so, the AI learning buddy takes into account the learning speed of the students and adapts to their learning rhythm. In addition, the AI records the learning progress of the students through questions, enabling them to identify and close their knowledge gaps in a more targeted manner.
"Syntea is one of the first solutions in the world to offer AI-based teaching at a high level and across many degree programmes. This concerns both the underlying generative AI technology and the dialogue-based, natural interaction with Syntea. As a personal learning buddy, Syntea accompanies our students efficiently through their studies and takes their needs into account," says Quintus Stierstorfer, Director Synthetic Teaching at IU, who is largely responsible for the development of Syntea.
In the current Syntea version, the following two functions are available to students at IU: Question-Answering (Q&A) and Pre-Assessment.
Q&A: Around-the-clock answers to academic questions
Question-Answering (Q&A) provides students with verified answers to their questions about academic content around the clock in an anonymous and private learning environment, allowing them to learn flexibly. Syntea refers in its answers via a link to the corresponding chapter in the online script. Students thus have the opportunity to immediately dive deeper into the topic . In addition, teachers can add further relevant content, for example further links, to the checked answers. Syntea immediately recognises questions from fellow students that have already been asked in a similar way and can directly provide suitable and already verified answers. The AI learning buddy uses natural language processing (NLP) in its answers to understand and use words as humans do.
Pre-assessment: assessing learning progress with video avatar
With pre-assessment, an AI-based assessment mechanism, students can test their level of knowledge at any time and on any topic by answering multiple-choice questions posed by Syntea. Syntea guides students through the questions and answers in the form of a talking avatar. After completing several questions, students can see which ones they answered correctly and which ones they answered incorrectly.
The next step of the Syntea roll-out will be the introduction of further functions such as the Socratic Dialogue, in which students can enter into a natural dialogue with Syntea to stimulate active learning and critical thinking. In this process, students can ask specific questions themselves or be asked questions by Syntea to lead to knowledge gain. The Future Skills service also offers students the opportunity to choose from a range of individualised training aimed at future skills required in the labour market. Syntea is to be developed in the long term into a continuous learning support service - a personalised learning buddy - that actively encourages and motivates students to pursue their learning goals.
IU's leading role in digital and AI-enhanced learning
IU has been actively using digital learning tools in its teaching for years. For example, students at IU have been able to use the self-developed learning app IU Learn since 2021, as well as access thousands of digital learning scripts and videos.
In order to offer students from all over the world the best possible personalised education, IU started early to develop its own AI-based offerings based on the latest technologies such as language models (LLMs) and GPT. They form the basis for the Syntea project.
IU will also offer elective courses in artificial intelligence in all degree programmes from October 2023. Students will thus have the opportunity to acquire new, essential skills in order to be prepared for the demands of the future labour market. In addition, IU's Artificial Intelligence and Data Science courses have already attracted over 2,000 new students with increasing demand.
Further information on Syntea with clear explanatory videos at: iu.de/en/syntea
With over 130,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-recognised educational institution with its headquarters in Erfurt began operations in 2000 and is now represented in more than 35 German cities. Students from over 180 nations design their studies according to their needs: whether practice-integrated dual studies, flexible distance learning or individual “myStudium”, which combines online self-study and campus life. IU wants to give people worldwide access to personalised education for a fulfilled and self-determined life. In more than 150 German- and over 50 English-language study programmes in bachelor's, master's and MBA fields, IU teaches students key competencies relevant to the future. A digitally supported learning environment and the use of AI solutions help students to achieve optimal learning results and experiences. IU is one of the first universities in the world to have developed and deployed its own AI-supported learning buddy. IU cooperates with over 15,000 companies and supports them in the academic training of professionals. Partners include Motel One, Vodafone, AWO and Deutsche Bahn. Further information at: iu.org