The National Science Foundation

AI Institute for Engaged Learning

The National Science Foundation AI Institute for Engaged Learning is guided by a vision that supports and extends the capabilities of teachers and students using artificial intelligence. The Institute conducts research on AI-driven narrative-centered learning environments with embodied conversational agents and powerful multimodal sensing capabilities to create deeply engaging collaborative story-based learning experiences. The Institute’s AI-driven learning environments build on its advances in core AI on natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning.

Narrative-Centered Learning

The Engage AI Institute is creating narrative-centered learning environments that generate engaging interactive story-based problem scenarios that elicit rich communication, require coordination, and spark collaborative creativity. The narrative-centered learning environments will feature embodied conversational agents that play a wide range of roles to engage students in authentic problem-solving scenarios.

Embodied Conversational Agents

The Engage AI Institute is creating embodied conversational agent technologies with multiple modalities for communication (natural language, facial expression, gesture, gaze, and posture) to support engaging learning interactions. Embodied conversational agents will be driven by advances in natural language understanding, natural language generation, and computer vision.

Multimodal Learning Analytics

The Engage AI Institute is creating an innovative multimodal learning analytics framework that analyzes parallel streams of multimodal data (including video and audio data) derived from students’ conversations, gaze, facial expressions, gesture, and posture as they interact with each other, with teachers, and with embodied conversational agents.

The Engage AI Institute’s research is informed by connections with diverse stakeholders to ensure that the Institute’s learning environments are ethically designed and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Woven throughout the Institute’s activities is a strong focus on ethics, with an emphasis on creating AI-augmented learning that is deeply informed by considerations of fairness, accountability, transparency, trust, and privacy.

Multi-Institutional Interdisciplinary Team and Partner Organizations

The Engage AI Institute is producing transformative advances in STEM teaching and learning by bringing together a large team of computer scientists and education researchers from North Carolina State University, Indiana University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University, and Digital Promise. The Institute’s partners include a national network of K-12 schools, museums, and non-profit organizations. The Institute's nexus will facilitate engagement of educators, policy makers, edtech platform developers, and other stakeholders in the Institute's activities and its development of ethical and equitable approaches to AI in learning.


James Lester

Principal Investigator

North Carolina State University


Mohit Bansal

Co-Principal Investigator

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Core AI Lead

Gautam Biswas

Co-Principal Investigator

Vanderbilt University

AI Innovations for Education Lead

Cindy Hmelo-Silver

Co-Principal Investigator

Indiana University

Education Research Lead

Jeremy Roschelle

Co-Principal Investigator

Digital Promise

Nexus & Outreach Lead

Senior Personnel

Tiffany Barnes (North Carolina State University)

Corey Brady (Vanderbilt University)

Quinn Burke (Digital Promise)

Snigdha Chaturvedi (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Min Chi (North Carolina State University)

David Crandall (Indiana University)

Joshua Danish (Indiana University)

Noel Enyedy (Vanderbilt University)

Krista Glazewski (Indiana University)

Maithilee Kunda (Vanderbilt University)

Anne Leftwich (Indiana University)

Collin Lynch (North Carolina State University)

Noboru Matsuda (North Carolina State University)

Ole Molvig (Vanderbilt University)

Thomas Price (North Carolina State University)

Colin Raffel (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Shashank Srivastava (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Josh Weisgrau (Digital Promise)

Eric Wiebe (North Carolina State University)