September 30, 2019

Artificial intelligence and the future of learning

Artificial intelligence is all over the news nowadays, but what does it mean for the future of work and learning? As processes from data gathering and analytics to computer-integrated manufacturing become increasingly capable, the limits of our imaginations are tested. In today’s workplace, robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence are very much a reality. It’s no surprise, then, that in 2017 the Government of Canada engaged CIFAR, Canada’s global research institute, to lead the development of a pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

As we wait for the release of the Government of Canada’s official artificial intelligence strategy, what’s clear is that, as the nature of training, learning, and work evolve, colleges and institutes are leading the development of new programs, research, and learning methods needed to train a resilient AI-literate workforce in virtually all industries. For example:

    • Students in BCIT’s Computer Systems Technology program can now pursue the second-year Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning specialization focusing on the design and development of software to process, visualize, analyze and model data sets for the purposes of decision making and prediction.
    • Durham College’s AI Hub helps the college’s industry partners access technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and platforms, and student talent to develop innovative intelligent and autonomous solutions that encourage productivity and growth. The college has also launched a brand new Artificial Intelligence Analysis, Design, and Implementation graduate certificate to ensure the need for skilled professionals in AI adoption is met.
    • Dawson College is also set to become a leader in AI, having recently announced a plan to turn the college into an AI centre of excellence, including peer-to-peer mentorship for faculty, the development of AI teaching materials, and curriculum devoted to AI ethics. The $1.5 million investment is the largest by any cégep in an AI-related initiative.
    • The JACOBB Centre for Applied Artificial Intelligence is a College Centre for Technology Transfer (CCTT) affiliated with the Cégep John Abbott College and the Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne that aims to accelerate the integration of AI into the Québec economy, particularly in the health sciences, financial services, and Big Data sectors. The Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne has also worked jointly with the Cégep de Sainte-Foy to launch a new program in Artificial Intelligence Technologies (Spécialisation technique en intelligence artificielle). Responding to industry demand, the program prepares students with technical skills to support AI research, implementation, data solutions.
    • NAIT’s Robotics, Automation and Control Certificate familiarizes students with automated processes including hydraulics and pneumatics, data communications, mobile robotics and automated systems, and computer-integrated manufacturing, using both lecture and lab practice. NAIT’s Student Services Centre is also currently developing an AI chatbot called IllumiNAIT to help answer common questions asked of the information services and career development departments.
    • An instructor from Mohawk College and her students are also working on the development of a chatbot with the goal of increasing audience engagement in the journalism industry through the college’s SURGE entrepreneurship hub.
    • Olds College’s Smart Farm uses the latest technologies in farming operations, including data analytics, machine learning and AI to turn data into information and knowledge aimed at improving productivity and addressing challenges while efficiently and sustainably managing resources. The Smart Farm is also a cutting-edge learning environment for agriculture students.

As AI-industries continue to grow, colleges and institutes can expand their role in training and research to help Canada, as a global leader in innovation, harness the potential from artificial intelligence to reap both social and economic benefits for all Canadians.