UCL Global


Using AI in education: UCL and University of Osaka

Academics from UCL and University of Osaka are developing new technology to interpret complex human interactions and help learners collaborate better.

UCL and Osaka University

7 October 2019

Academics from UCL and University of Osaka (OU) are developing AI technologies to support the development of collaborative problem solving (CPS) skills in learners. CPS is a fundamental skill for success in modern societies, but implementing and evaluating it in learning environments is challenging for educators.

Professor Rose Luckin and Dr Mutlu Cukurova from UCL and Professors Hisakazu Matsushige and Hajime Nagahara, and doctors Noriko Takemura, and Shizuka Shirai from University of Osaka are developing a camera system that analyses individual behaviour within groups and determines how collaborative it is. Early tests show that the camera is correct in predicting the quality of the collaboration 85% of the time, when compared with human expert judgment.

The plan is for the technology to also provide adaptive real-time support, directly intervening, or giving intervention suggestions, to provide learners with feedback and suggestions to improve the quality of their interaction. Dr Cukurova explains:

Our aim is to design tech that augments human intelligence rather than using it to replace human behaviours. This means that whilst we’re augmenting them with ‘artificial tools’ for rich data collection and processing, the final decision-making is left in the trusted hands of human learners and educators.

In coming together, the two universities are not only able to merge data sets but to draw on their complementary skills. Colleagues at OU have excellent technical skills in computer vision and capacity for the design of AI technologies. UCL has world-leading expertise in education and learning.

Working with a global partner means that the combined team are also able to carry out cross-cultural evaluation; looking at how CPS might present itself differently in individuals from different cultures.

UCL and OU are also working together on a project to support capacity building for educators, to ensure that the education systems can respond to the potentially disruptive impact of AI. Both Japanese and UK Governments are prioritising the use of technology, with Japan’s Society 5.0 programme and the UK’s Industrial Strategy both including a focus on AI for the common good and benefit of humanity.

Professor Luckin and Dr Cukurova received funding through the UCL-Osaka Strategic Partnership Fund. This joint seed-funding scheme has been designed to encourage academic collaboration between the two institutions.