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Building an AI-Powered Planning Assistant for Neurodivergent Students

Posted by on Friday, July 7, 2023 in - Generative AI, DSI-Supported Research, DSSG, generative-ai-research, Newsletter, Ongoing Research, Vanderbilt Generative AI Research.

In the interest of developing assistive technologies, DSI Senior Data Scientist, Myranda Shirk, and Data Scientist, Umang Chandry, are leading a team to create AI-powered tools for neurodivergent individuals. The team, comprised of Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) Fellows Eleanor Beers, Sovann Chang, Minwoo Sohn, Ricky Sun, Logan A’Hearn, Jason Wisdom, and Katrina Rbeiz, is currently working on the Planning Assistant project, an application designed to assist students in organizing and managing their academic schedules more effectively. Umang Chaudry is leading the setup of the user interface and web app functionality for this project. By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, this innovative tool aims to alleviate the challenges faced by both neurotypical and neuroatypical students in tracking important dates and managing their coursework efficiently.

Inspired by recent advancements in AI, Myranda, Umang, and and the data science team recognized the potential to create valuable tools benefiting individuals with disabilities. While AI applications like ChatGPT have gained popularity, their integration into assistive technologies has been limited. The Planning Assistant project aims to provide a valuable resource for neurodivergent students. Using the Langchain library in Python and generative AI to automate the extraction of important dates from class syllabi eliminates the need for manual data entry, saving students valuable time and effort, while generating calendar entries seamlessly integrated with personal Google or Outlook calendars. Creating a user-friendly and accessible interface is a crucial focus. The team chose the Gradio library in Python to develop the Planning Assistant’s interface, prioritizing accessibility and ease of use for students.

Although organizing class schedules is the primary focus of this project, Myranda envisions expanding the app into a comprehensive academic coaching tool. By breaking down large assignments into manageable steps and suggesting timelines, students with executive function challenges benefit from improved task management and project completion. This extension has the potential to enhance productivity and reduce stress levels for students of all backgrounds.

The Planning Assistant project represents an exciting endeavor in the realm of assistive technologies. Using the power of AI, the app will empower neurodivergent students in managing their academic schedules more effectively. The integration of Langchain and Gradio libraries in Python ensures efficient date extraction and user-friendly interfaces. As the project progresses, the team envisions expanding the tool to provide comprehensive academic coaching, benefiting students facing executive function challenges. Through these efforts, we strive to leverage technology to create a more inclusive educational environment for all students.

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