“State of the art” – the Intelligent Campus in China

This month’s blog is taken from the introduction to a technical briefing on the Intelligent Campus in China, written by Li Yuan, a Learning Technology Advisor at Cetis.

“Compared with the UK HE ad hoc approach to the implementation of the Intelligent Campus, ”one-stop-shop” solutions have been developed to take advantage of the latest data-enabled technologies and AI applications on university campuses in China.

It is a myth that China’s approach to AI is defined by its top-down and monolithic nature. There are ambitious policies and funding from central government, but also provincial and local governments together with private companies, academic labs and other agencies are all pursuing their own interests in staking out their role in fulfilling what is called China’s AI dream. This gives universities a strong impetus to set up AI labs and experiment with all the AI technologies on the market, often in a strong partnership with major players like Huawei, Tencent, Weidong, Alibaba, iFlytek, Squirrel AI and others.

For example, Huawei used their Atlas Intelligent Computing platform with the latest AI technology with a focus on intelligent campus management. On the other hand, Tencent is using its existing mobile technologies to develop various intelligent applications to build intelligent campuses which connect students, teachers and parents within and outside campuses to promote interactive teaching and learning approaches. iFlytek have used their advantages in speech recognition technologies to expand into the educational vertical with language processing technology improving the efficiency of high-stakes testing. Squirrel AI has established a great number of schools across China offering university entrance exam preparation.

A number of Chinese universities are taking part in a national pilot project to test out the most commonly used AI technology: facial recognition. The new system enables students to enter or exit their dormitories using facial scanning at the entrance instead of swiping their electronic pass which is seen as improving the university’s dormitory management efficiency and better ensuring students’ safety on campus. Face recognition technology has also been used in university libraries, canteens and in lecture rooms to identify emotions to register students’ psychological state, which is considered an important parameter for teachers to evaluate throughout Chinese education.”

It will be interesting to keep track of developments in China, where major tech companies are powering ahead with new products and services in the absence of many of the ethical and privacy concerns present in the UK education sector.

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