December 2017 | Issue 33
LKCMedicine and IBM develop AI medical tutor

The future is now as LKCMedicine embarks on an exciting collaborative research project to develop a cognitive tutor.

Putting together the brightest minds, LKCMedicine and international technology giant IBM are working on the development of a “Medical School Tutor”. Using artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities, this Medical School Tutor will have the potential to provide students with a personalised, interactive learning support system.

LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Education Professor Naomi Low-Beer said, “LKCMedicine’s extensively digitised medical curriculum offers a unique opportunity to harness the latest technology, tailoring online learning resources according to individual students’ strengths, weakness and preferences. Although not a substitute for clinical experience, the Medical School Tutor could be particularly valuable in the later years of training, helping students hone their scientific and clinical knowledge base to supplement learning in the healthcare environment, which is by nature unpredictable and variable.”

The AI could come in different forms, whether as a mobile application, a computer programme with voice command or integrated into LKCMedicine’s Team-Based Learning (TBL) platform. Equipped with algorithms that analyse a student’s performance, weaknesses, and strengths, the virtual tutor could potentially grow with students, helping them polish any areas they may be lacking in.

LKCMedicine Director of E-learning and IT Systems & Services Mr Paul Gagnon said, “My vision for the project is that it will support the learner, become the learner’s personal learning companion as they move through their curriculum experience.”

With an existing digital library of medical information, LKCMedicine and IBM hope to use these resources to make information easily available for students, tailoring it to each and every need and enhancing their ability to achieve the expected learning outcomes.

How then could the Medical School Tutor work? For example, the AI tutor could sift and select relevant information for students if they want to recall content on a specific topic to deepen their understanding, guiding them to identify key information easily and apply what they understand. Not only will it aim to support students with their homework and exams, but it could enable them to quickly pull up information as needed, especially in a fast-paced environment such as hospitals.

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LKCMedicine students already have access to their learning resources via their iPad. The Medical School Tutor could potentially make accessing specific information across courses more convenient and provide personalised support

Dr Satya Nitta, Global Leader, Cognitive Sciences and Education Technology at IBM Research said, “Intelligent tutoring has long been the holy grail of personalised learning, and using an intelligent tutor to help augment the training of future doctors is possibly one of the best use-cases of an intelligent tutor.”

The Medical School Tutor has the potential to further augment the training of future doctors, who already enjoy a personalised learning environment at LKCMedicine through their communication skills practice with peers and simulated patients in hands-on science and anatomy practicals, and during supervised interactions with patients in hospitals and clinics across Singapore.

LKCMedicine Medical Education, Research & Scholarship Unit acting Director and Visiting Associate Professor Nabil Zary said, “We also anticipate this project to be part of our next generation of educational innovations implemented at LKCMedicine thereby keeping our School at the forefront of innovation in medical education.”