by Rebecca Merrett

Deakin University taps into context-aware tech and AI with apps hub

Oct 07, 20143 mins
Education Industry

Deakin University is using context-aware technology for its apps hub, with plans to add artificial intelligence to enhance its capabilities.

DeakinSync, which launched at the beginning of this year, is an online hub for the university’s 200 apps. Using MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform and Sixtree, the hub caters to 50,000 students and 4,700 staff across four campuses, with the rollout to be complete at the end of this year. Almost 20,000 students are currently using DeakinSync.

The apps hub allows students to create and share documents, book meeting rooms, follow news on particular topics, access health services, find accommodation and browse through resources provided by the library. It also links with the university’s learning management system, Desire2Learn.

The hub is built to be context-aware, meaning it picks up a student’s location within a campus, analyses his or her recent activity and pulls together other specific data such as class timetables to present information that is relevant at any given point in time.

Deakin University’s chief digital officer, William Confalonieri, said this can be particularly useful when new students are trying to navigate their way around a campus, or need a sort of alert system that can help them keep on top of their exams.

“If the student is walking close to a cafeteria, for example, the system presents the option to buy a coffee online and pick the coffee up a few minutes later. If an exam is coming up for the student, the material that needs to be reviewed is [presented] at the front,” he said.

Confalonieri plans to add artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities by early 2015. This can include machine learning, where a system is able to pick up on patterns in data to predict future outcomes or train itself on how to best respond in certain situations.

Read: Australian National University adds augmented reality to mobile app

“The new generation of students are expecting different things, they are digital natives and are accustomed to interact with technology. So we need to respond to those expectations and the new wave of innovation,” Confalonieri said.

Confalonieri is also integrating DeakinSync with social media platforms such as Facebook, and is enabling game badges to display in students’ online portfolios so they can show employees that they have reached a level of competency or skill when going for jobs.

Read: Kaplan University students use competency-based badging as a reference or to demonstrate their abilities when applying for internships and jobs

“The focus is on delivering powerful, simple, compelling digital experience, as opposed to just giving access to a few IT systems. In the past, the different IT or digital touchpoints were not integrated and more difficult to navigate, difficult to understand. We were not thinking of the user, we were thinking of the platform,” he said.