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AI for Personalized Education: The Three Pillars of Personalized Learning

The recent Microsoft Build conference brought me once again to Seattle where I have spent much of my career. Build is one of my favorite developer conferences because it brings together dreamers who are builders. Over the last year Microsoft has continued to release some incredible tools to help bring AI application builders’ dreams to life. I've had the chance to take the stage at several Build conferences, but this year was different from my usual experience, because I wasn’t locked into a predetermined demo in an executive keynote. This time I was able to define my own session and share my passion and projects with the audience.  

During my sessions, I focused on two topics I am especially passionate about: AI for Personalized Education and the power of being connected to a global AI community. In my demo session about AI for Personalized Education, I covered the three pillars for personalized learning: 

Enhanced Learning through Assistive Technology

As you may know, I have a son who was born with disabilities. What I've learned as he has grown is that all my children benefit from the technology that helps him every day.  In the first morning keynote, Satya Nadella spoke about the importance of building a more accessible world. He announced a new laptop called the "Copilot PC ." I was able to get my hands on one and take it for a test drive. I was very impressed by the new NPU (Neural Processing Unit) that was added to the machine; it allowed offloading of real-time inferencing from the CPU and GPUs. This allows for those who need assistive technology to use it without the "Accessibility Tax "—in other words you can use accessibility technology without your machine getting overloaded and limiting the number of apps or tasks you can take on at the same time. 

One of the accessibility apps that took Build by storm was Cephable, a free software platform for PCs and Macs that allows users to add adaptive voice controls, head movements, face expressions, and virtual buttons/switches to use as controls in their favorite games and apps. We loaded Cephable onto the new Copilot PC and were able to map keystrokes that controlled an application to head movements of a user. The application was created by Alex Dunn and the idea came from his desire to create a way for his brother to use gestures to keep up with his friends while playing Minecraft. I tested the application and even downloaded it to my machine. I used it to navigate a PowerPoint presentation, and used gestures for common coding tasks, such as tilting my head to save my code. 

Those with significant physical limitations can leverage Cephable to customize application profiles to assist with any task controlled with a key binding, and with the new NPU, the CPU stays level. And it's free for individuals and educators, so test it out!

Tailored Learning Paths for Success

Another highlight of Build was the Imagine Cup! The Microsoft Imagine Cup is an annual global competition that challenges students to use technology to solve real-world problems.  I met one of the finalists and I was so inspired by what they had built. Using Azure OpenAI Service, built an AI-powered productivity coach to help people with ADHD who are experiencing task paralysis. The coach asks questions to identify the user's obstacles, suggests strategies, and teaches the user about their work style.

You can try this one too! What I liked about it was the ability for a teacher or a student to use it to help break down work in a personalized way and have an AI coach that understands the challenges of someone with ADHD.

Empowering Caregivers in Education

I also shared some of the incredible advancements being made by Erin Reddick , founder and CEO of ChatBlackGPT, which developed a chatbot dedicated to offering insights and perspectives rooted in Black, African American, and African information sources and culturally aware AI. She joined me on stage to share how her company has created a custom model to help care givers understand the special education process and the creation of individualized education programs. 

It was an incredible week spent learning about how AI is not only helping enterprises, but individuals, regardless of their abilities and challenges.

Other News and Updates 

In other news, this week I was at SAP Sapphire where some very exciting announcements were made! In recent months, I've been asked by companies to help them unlock the power of their Microsoft Copilot licenses. I created a Microsoft CoPilot Coaching program to provide these companies with the right skills to amplify the productivity of their teams and successfully integrate Copilot into their everyday operations. This week, SAP announced an exciting release : SAPs generative assistant Joule is now integrated with Microsoft Copilot, making it possible for business applications in SAP to use natural language to assist in the configuration of even the most complicated business applications. 

Keep an eye out for other exciting events this month. I will be one of the keynoters at Splunk’s annual conference, as well as hosting a video training to help users complete the Microsoft Build AI Skills Challenge. It's not too late to join and begin to learn by doing! 

The world will continue to evolve its understanding and capability with AI. Now, more than ever, we need mindful, intentional , and responsible leadership to guide the creation and use of this technology to ensure we build systems that are helpful and not harmful. Reach out to me on LinkedIn anytime as you progress in your responsible AI journey.

Posted by Noelle Russell on 06/12/2024