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Welcome to the AI in Education podcast

With Dan Bowen, Beth Worrall, and Lee Hickin from Microsoft Australia

It's a fortnightly chat about Artificial Intelligence in Education - what it is, how it works, and the different ways it is being used. It's not too serious, or too technical, and is intended to be a good conversation of background information.

Of course, as well as getting it here on the website, you can also just subscribe to your normal podcast service:


“This podcast is produced by Microsoft Australia & New Zealand employees, Lee Hickin, Dan Bowen, and Beth Worrall. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are our own.”

Feb 26, 2020

Does the experience of a retail flagship store have a lesson for education? How does the way that retail blends online and in-store experiences through data and applying artificial intelligence provide lessons for education organisations? Two questions we set out to answer during this podcast.

We look at the advances of AI in the retail sector, and learn about things that are relevant to education. It starts with a fascinating conversation about the difference between Amazon and Walmart, and how a retailer that has traditionally been strong in grocery lines is able to compete against a new style retailer that has a digital business model. Marcy tells the story about how they are able to gain a data advantage through their customer relationships made through physical stores, and how they turn that to a competitive edge using artificial intelligence. This has interesting parallels to education, especially when you consider the encroachment of digital education and tools.


Marcy also talks about Starbucks and their use of artificial intelligence, and how they take flagship stores that are 'analogue, and pure theatre' and blend that into a digital relationship for their local stores, where a large proportion of their growth is driven through a mobile app. Of course, we talk about coffee buying preferences (Marcy's almond cappuccino with cinnamon on the top) and how AI helps them to personalise recommendations based on locations, not just on your order history. It was also interesting to hear about deliberate decisions to not be digital in their flagship stores where they designed experiences to be about spending time and switching off, rather than speed and efficiency


When we got to the subject of the 'dream team' within an organisation to make best use of artificial intelligence and data-centric thinking, and Marcy had a clear perspective, backed up by data, of the need for organisations to become skilled right across the organisation at this, rather than leaving it within the domain of IT or a Chief Digital Officer. As Marcy puts it, "IT leadership can't be in the corner, it needs to be infused across the organisation"