Qewy: your personal AI pal
How can we use AI to enhance learning in the classroom?

“I’m challenging universities to reinvent and invest more time into delivering content,” states Amjad Hassoun, a final-year computer science student at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). Hassoun isn’t just another student at UTM. He is the person who created “Qewy,” a cute customizable pal in the form of a chibi philosopher that works within a learning management system, such as Quercus. “It all started with creating little tools that I learned to program and then I decided to combine it. Q-Tools is a buildup of all these little tools.” 

“I see AI differently than a lot of people,” Hassoun explains as he discusses the use of AI in the world. “It’s a tool that can be molded into any domain/field. And I want to know how I can use it to improve the learning experience for the student and teaching experience for professor.”

Hassoun credits CSC398: AI Ethics, stating, “That course posed a great question: how can we use AI in an innovative and ethical way? And that started my journey of trying to integrate AI into Quercus to enhance the student learning experience.”

“AI integration isn’t new. There are plugins right now that use AI to modify your experience,” Hassoun continues, explaining the idea of a plugin for Quercus to customize the student experience. “My friend’s girlfriend uses a Google extension that changes the way Quercus looks visually. It just changes the aesthetics of Quercus for the user by adding task lists, better layouts, and colors. But when I saw it, I realized this is exactly how I can integrate AI into learning, via a Google Chrome extension for Quercus.” 

Hassoun demonstrates two different components of Q-Tools. Q-chat allows you to select files, documents, and slides from your Quercus course and chat with them using AI. Not only does the student get to pick out which files to chat with, but also which parts of the files, improving the AI’s efficiency.

Q Notes, on the other hand, generates dynamic notes in the form of flashcards and text notes. Students can prompt it with what they want to learn, and it will create a flashcard based off their prompts or generate study guides and summaries. To gamify learning, it tries to add fun facts in the text notes and flashcards. Hassoun uses Q Notes to show the various ways students can use AI to improve their learning experience.

“I hope to make studying more enjoyable for students. That is my dream for this tool,” he adds. Hassoun explains the possibilities and capabilities of Qewy. His eyes brimmed with excitement and pride. 

“The use and power of AI is very misunderstood because people don’t actually know what it is and what it can/can’t do. I want to show how powerful generative AIs are to leverage course material to their true potential,” says Hassoun when asked about how people would feel using AI as a tool in academia. “It’s a tool that increases efficiency and simplifies your workflow. Without the correct prompts and the person behind these prompts, the AI won’t be able to generate an answer that answers your question accurately.” For example, asking ChatGPT to solve a basic math problem works, but to correctly answer a 4th year math question, you need to help it out! This is a golden opportunity to educate students on how to use AI to learn, not just cheat!

Hassoun believes professors should not fear using generative AIs. It is a tool that they should use to their advantage. “Why should professors waste time trying to figure out how to create modules or pages on Quercus, they should simply focus on teaching the course. Imagine adding AI to their course creation? I understand plagiarism is a big issue currently with AI, but it’s an opportunity for them to push students to their limits and test them with the assistive use of these chatbots and generative AIs. How can I make learning more stimulating? How can I use AIs to deliver engaging content? It’s been 30 years since my father went to university, but virtually nothing has changed in terms of course delivery, and we really should be thinking about innovating the classroom. Especially for UofT as the leader of innovation around the world,” Hassoun explains.

AI redefines learning as we know it. With the power of these generative AI tools, opportunities are limitless. From simply organizing information to creating whole syllabuses to enriching information, using AIs can greatly elevate learning to a new level by improving the workflow for both students and professors.

“A sentence stuck with me in a book titled Deep Work by Cal Newport. In whatever field we are in, we need to improve our workflow for success. Generative AIs are just that. A tool that improves our workflow so we can aim for more success in our learning,” Hassoun concludes.

With the development of new technology, it’s a shame that education is still stagnant in its development. COVID-19 pushed forth a new age of online learning, but gaps are still found in the way students learn and the way educators provide their content. Thanks to people like Hassoun, there are ways to use technology to our advantage to reinvent and revolutionize education and learning as we know it.

Features Editor (Volume 50) — Louis graduated from UTM with a Bachelor of Science double majoring in Psychology and Professional Writing and Communication. He is currently in the field of UX/UI design, conducting research on how to improve user experience in apps and websites, designing websites for companies that are looking to branch online. As the Features Editor for Volume 50, Louis wants to bring the experience of reading enjoyable and informative for everyone. He hopes to showcase student voices and empower them through editing. When Louis is not at his computer designing websites or writing, he is opening Pokémon card packs chasing the Charizard or at the gym training his mind and body.


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