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Salesforce adds generative AI tools to Education Cloud

Customers discuss Salesforce's GenAI push into education with features that target business process automation for K-12 and college students and administrators.

When OpenAI unleashed ChatGPT on the Internet, many college students used the generative AI tool to author papers on their behalf -- much to the chagrin of academia. But Salesforce's upcoming GenAI tools aim to enhance learning and academic support services.

In Einstein 1 Edition for Education, Salesforce later this year will roll out several prebuilt education-specific automations, including Intelligent Degree Planning, which shows a student's progress toward degree requirements and permutations for completing them. Pathway Templates, for advisors, generates plans for completing student degrees based on a student's major and planned graduation date.

Skills Generator compares employment marketplace demand with curriculum, designed to help create more workforce-ready graduates, and Einstein Mentorship Summaries organizes mentor programs.

Salesforce also plans to release Einstein Copilot Recruitment & Admissions Actions and Intelligent Question Generator for Student Intake. Both are designed to tap into generative AI to streamline the recruitment of students and personalize their onboarding into campus life by cutting hours -- or more -- out of current manual processes for schools, said Bala Subramanian, vice president and general manager of Salesforce Education Cloud.

The education-centric tools are part of Salesforce's GenAI push into vertical industries. Einstein 1 is a metadata platform that connects a user's data to Salesforce GenAI tools.

Universities need to mature their data models to take advantage of new GenAI tools to provide better services for students and improve learning outcomes, said Mitzi Lauderdale, Salesforce customer and vice provost for academic innovation and student success at Texas Tech University.

Analytics tools help Texas Tech's success specialists help personalize academic support for individual students. With the right end user education, policies and training around the use of generative AI -- keeping student privacy top of mind -- she believes the technology can further improve the student experience.

"In academia we have space issues, we have challenges with course scheduling," Lauderdale said. "We need to study the combinations of courses students are taking; are they more likely to persist if they are taking these four classes together instead of [those] four?"

Some educators wary of GenAI

On campuses, there's a range of reaction from administration and faculty to GenAI tools, said Kivanc Oner, Salesforce customer and vice president of transformation and CIO at the University of Las Vegas. The spectrum goes all the way from fear -- some professors ask for certain tools to be blocked on the network -- to enthusiastic early adopters.

"It is [IT leaders'] responsibility to internally have these conversations and understand the concerns, how we can respond to this, and what this means," Oner said. "We cannot hide from this. … We can be the leaders who say that we want to be part of this revolution, and this is how we want to be part of it."

Einstein 1 Edition for Education also opens access to Salesforce Data Cloud, which the company calls a "hyperscale data platform." Data Cloud can store data, or can access without ingesting it -- also called "zero copy" -- from other popular data warehouses such as Snowflake or Databricks.

Screenshot of Intelligent Degree Planning in Salesforce Education Cloud
Intelligent Degree Planner in Salesforce Education Cloud utilizes generative AI to map degree pathways for students and their advisors.

Pricing and availability

The Salesforce Education Cloud features were previewed in conjunction with its Education Summit this week in San Diego. Salesforce plans to release Intelligent Degree Planning, Skills Generator and Intelligent Question Generator as part of Education Cloud in June. Data Cloud for Education, Einstein Copilot: Recruitment & Admissions Actions, Einstein Mentorship Summaries and Pathway Templates releases are planned for October.

Pricing for Einstein 1 Edition for Education has not yet been revealed, but it will likely carry a hefty price tag. For comparison, Salesforce Einstein 1 Studio for Sales and Service is $500 per user, per month.

Education Cloud pricing ranges from $25 for limited staff access to $138.75 for the Unlimited Edition, per user, per month. Education Cloud is an add-on to Salesforce Sales and Service editions, which is $48 per user, per month for an Enterprise subscription, and $96 for Unlimited, according to a Salesforce Education Pricing Guide. Some of the higher-end Education Cloud packages include the Sales and Service license with their subscription cost.

Don Fluckinger is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial. He covers customer experience, digital experience management and end-user computing. Got a tip? Email him.

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