Beyond Textbooks: How AI is Transforming Education at IU

Article reading time: 5 min. | 20. Nov 2023, written by Ashly Stusser
Tags AI OnlineLearning FutureReady StudyTips syntea

Interviewer: Ashly Stüsser

Interviewee: Prof. Dr Francisco Tigre Moura

Duration: 60 min., Location: Berlin (Virtual)

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to make waves worldwide, IU is staying ahead of the curve by bringing this tech innovation into the virtual classroom. We recently sat down with Prof. Dr Francisco Tigre Moura, Professor of Online Marketing and Business Administration at IU. 

Read on to learn more about how AI is shaking things up at IU, his views on the evolving role of AI in education and get tips on how students can enhance their learning with AI.  

Having been at IU for a decade and witnessing firsthand the shift towards AI in education at IU, how do you feel about this transition?  

Prof. Dr Tigre Moura: AI, particularly generative AI, is the most transformative innovation we've had in education in a long time. Right now, most people don't fully understand AI's potential, but in the next 5 to 10 years, we will all get used to and depend on it. It's crucial that IU is leading in actively integrating these technologies, as they're set to become a necessity.  

There's so much potential for how AI can enhance learning. For instance, in my Marketing Research course, AI allows us to instantly review and discuss customer feedback, which breathes a fresh twist into our sessions. It's also great for independent study, catering to students who need more flexibility due to their unconventional schedules or other commitments.   

Across our various degree programmes, our focus is on preparing students with transferable skills, especially those related to technology. Familiarising students with online technologies via distance learning is a key component in building these skills. We truly believe that adaptability in this digital era is crucial. 

Bio: Prof. Dr Francisco Tigre Moura

Francisco Tigre Moura has been a Professor of Online Marketing and Business Administration at IU since 2013. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism, a Master's degree in Business Administration from Universidade Federal de Pernambuco/Brazil, and a PhD in Marketing from University of Otago/New Zealand. 

Before joining IU, Tigre Moura taught at various universities at home and abroad for over eight years and gained industry experience in the tourism sector in Brazil and New Zealand. As a researcher, he focuses on music and marketing, tourism and technology, internet and society, web design, consumer behaviour online, cultural manifestation online, and website localisation. 

His research has been published by leading international academic journals such as the Journal of Travel Research (2014) and Thunderbird International Business Review (2015), at international conferences such as ENTER 2012 (Helsingborg, Sweden), ANZMAC 2010 (Christchurch, New Zealand) and EnANPAD 2008 ( Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), published at PhD colloquia (ANZMAC 2010 and University of Otago), at professional seminars and other media. 

IU recently introduced a new AI-powered learning assistant, Syntea. Do you think similar AI technologies could ever fully replace human teachers?  

Prof. Dr Tigre Moura: With AI technologies, the possibilities in terms of customisation and personalisation in education are endless. While there may be a decrease in human interaction in cases where students independently interact with AI systems, it all depends on how we use AI. There can still be human interaction in distance learning or physical classes where AI is integrated – like we do at IU with Syntea.  

It's also a matter of how society will accept these technologies. People might feel overwhelmed at some point or adopt it quickly due to familiarity. As we interact more with such systems, we develop an emotional relationship with them, which can be vital for learning. However, we need more time to fully understand this process. 

As a professional in the field, how do you think AI is altering the landscape of the marketing industry?  

Prof. Dr Tigre Moura: Generative AI has democratised content creation, making it more accessible across different mediums. This is a game-changer for SMEs that typically have a tighter marketing budget – AI now makes it possible to create great campaigns and advertising at very low costs. It has also spurred a boom in start-ups, simplifying starting a business. But all of these come at the cost of increased competition.  

In marketing research, tasks like online analytics can be automated. Therefore, marketers can access content more comfortably and automate numerous tasks. At the same time, AI has allowed us to better understand consumer problems and develop solutions faster, generating more value for consumers. This is a very positive aspect.  

Can you share strategies on how students can utilise AI to enhance their learning at IU?  

Prof. Dr. Tigre Moura: Certainly. One key concept is co-creation with AI tools, which I'm exploring in my new book. Students often make the mistake of relying entirely on these systems rather than using them to enhance their learning process. One thing I always emphasise to my students is that for education to truly transform you, you need to be challenged.

AI can both challenge and support you, ultimately elevating you to new heights. As a student, you'll have an extraordinary partner in the technology—someone who challenges you, gives ideas, bounces concepts around, and guides you throughout the journey. This is an extraordinary opportunity. 

As we gain familiarity with technology, we gradually comprehend its real benefits, primary value, and the most effective way to employ it in different situations. 

If you were starting your academic journey with all the resources available today, would you do anything differently?  

Prof. Dr Tigre Moura: Well, it's difficult to say what I would do differently because the realities are so distinct that you can't compare – when I was in university, we didn't even have social media then.   

One obstacle for students today lies in distinguishing between staying informed and being distracted. It's a huge challenge for the current generation since we're all just one click away from entering a completely different place and losing track of productivity.  

On the other hand, it's much easier now to have access to discussions about societal issues and problems. This is where you can make a meaningful contribution. There's abundant content available, so be open to listening and absorb as much as possible.  

In my IU intro week speeches, I like to bring in the metaphor of Batman's utility belt. He doesn't have superpowers; his strength lies in this belt loaded with tools. Today, it's much easier for you to build your own utility belt and develop skills. Learning languages, tools, technology, statistics, or whatever interests you are more accessible than ever before.

If you can tune out the distractions and focus on developing tools and abilities to address these major problems, you become an asset to the market. After all, that's the ultimate goal.  

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