UNSW to Open-Source its Cloud-Based Classroom Platform

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Question was developed on Microsoft’s bot framework to help ensure the thousands of online posts received from students were never missed

According to a report by ZDNet, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has announced that it will begin open-sourcing its cloud-based classroom platform built on Office Education, and releasing it on GitHub this December, starting with its artificial intelligence-driven chatbot, called Question.

Dr. David Kellerman, a senior lecturer at UNSW school of mechanical and manufacturing engineering, told the news daily that Question was developed on Microsoft’s bot framework to help ensure the thousands of online posts received from students were never missed.

Question treats every students’ question like a service ticket

He further stated that Question treats every students’ question like a service ticket. It connects them with the right people. When the TAs [teacher’s assistance] come in and answer those questions, it’s logged off, and it’s read as a question and answer pair automatically.

He added that they automatically write it to an Azure cognitive service Q&A. It doesn’t try to answer questions on its own, it tries to redirect the students into their conversation, reconnecting them back with their peers.

Question was developed off the back of a pilot that Kellerman launched in 2017. It started with Kellerman working with the university’s IT team to sync all students into Microsoft Office 365, reported the news daily.

He added that the shift onto Microsoft Office 365 meant they could also use Team Live Events to live broadcast his lectures while allowing students to write comments to ask questions and receive answers in real-time.

He pointed out that AI is allowing him to reach out to people in need. Marking exam papers has also been improved as it’s now a more automated process.

He noted that using Azure machine learning, he can train an ML model against the marking rubric to identify key components, diagrammatic solutions. We can either click through and confirm or filter out things, like a blank page, a human never has to see that.

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