Our Story

The EngageAI Institute emerged from the confluence of independent lines of investigation that fortuitously intersected in 2019. Principal Investigator (PI) Lester and co-PI Biswas were working on creating artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for education with a focus on interactive narrative and pedagogical agents. Co-PI Hmelo-Silver’s research involved innovating in the learning sciences with a focus on computer-supported collaborative learning. Co-PI Bansal had been advancing statistical natural language processing and machine learning with a focus on multimodal semantics and generalizable deep learning. Recognizing the enormous potential that could be realized by bringing these ideas together and driven by the broad community vision provided by co-PI Roschelle, they created a team spanning their five institutions.

Over the next two years, they considered how powerful story-driven learning experiences might be generated for learners in a broad range of contexts including classrooms and museums. They developed and refined an ambitious research agenda around narrative-centered learning environments featuring embodied conversational agents and multimodal learning analytics, all driven by (and driving) advances in natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning, and all with the goal of creating effective, engaging learning experiences. They added the expertise of their colleagues in the learning sciences, computer vision, and ethics, and they partnered with a host of educational organizations across the country. 

In 2021, through the National Science Foundation (NSF) AI Institutes program, the NSF launched the NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning headquartered at North Carolina State University with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Indiana University, Vanderbilt University, and Digital Promise as lead partners.

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