Research Assistant Opportunity—Helping Computers Help us Learn

A New Marker Post in the Digital March to Utopia

Research Assistant Opportunity—Helping Computers Help us Learn

If having a computer know you and your ways, really know you, like in a romantic comedy or at least a favourite professor kind of way, is high on your agenda of sidebar learning outcomes then this is the posting for you.

One line in this research assistant posting summarizes, perhaps, whether a would-be applicant is right for the job: “to our knowledge, no technological system is currently available that can fully sense natural human engagement signals and respond accordingly.”   In a world where AI can write quixotic flowery poems and anti-war folk songs but still fail to provide us with rent money and grocery discounts, the notion that a computer program could sense and respond to the essential attributes of Homo sapiens as living beings seems more the stuff of dry humor than a full-throated discussion.  But, see, that’s what makes this a fascinating research topic!

Here’s the nutshell version of the research goals.“We seek to design, implement, and evaluate a system that uses emotion sensing to guide pedagogical responses that will (a) enhance engagement by redirecting the attention of students to their learning activities, and (b) provide students with realistic and effective learning experiences in online courses.

“In what ways and to what extent can online learners’ learning behaviours be properly recorded and recognized? What can these behaviours reveal about the engagement level of individual learners? How can we best respond to learner engagement cues using a pedagogical agent to control the intervention?”

Active research in this regard will include regions such as programming, software development, and image processing – all in furtherance of better human-computer interactions as regards heightened educational outcomes.  Interested applicants can send their cover letter, resume, interests and experiences, and contact info for “at least three referees” to Dr.  Ali Dewan at