AI can enable educators with new superpowers

“AI can recommend content and the most efficient learning path for each individual learner”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if teachers had superpowers? With all the demands made of them – keeping track of slow learners, paying attention to gifted students, checking homework, grading tests, no wonder they struggle. But we can enable educators with superpowers today using artificial intelligence, the perfect solution for learners.

No, institutions don’t have to start hiring data scientists to build complex algorithms. Edtech companies have done all the work. All it takes is an IT manager to plug the AI brain into whatever learning management system an institution has adopted with something called an Application Programming Interface, or API.

APIs are like pipes that connect one software system to another. Suddenly, the LMS that instructors use to assign homework or grade tests has a brain of its own.

Riiid is one of the leading players that provide advanced AI technology to the market. Through the API, the AI can assess each learner’s level of knowledge in a fraction of the time diagnostic assessment used to require. With just 10 scientifically selected questions identified from your data set of learner interactions, a properly trained AI can predict if a learner will get certain questions right or wrong with approximately 90% accuracy.

Based on this diagnostic assessment, the AI can then recommend content and the most efficient learning path for each individual learner, knowing in real time what they need to study – and what they already know. Teachers don’t need not wait until the end of the course to find out whether their learners succeeded.

APIs are like a menu. You want AI-powered testing, but not content recommendations? No problem. Consider Maestrik, a Latin American education company operating in Mexico, Colombia, and Panama. The company’s platform connects teachers that have free time to teach with students that want to learn. It has more than 500,000 registered users and over 3000 teachers available for tutoring.

From the beginning, English was the subject most in demand, and English instruction will soon be mandatory for every public school in Colombia. So, Maestrik created a product called Leah, which stands for Learn English At Home, which it sells to schools.

It has integrated a short, AI-powered diagnostic test into the product through an API. Most diagnostic tests take half an hour or more and students wait for the results. But with the AI API, students using Leah get an accurate diagnosis of their English level in five to ten minutes. The test measures a student’s level in reading, listening and language use.

But there is more available through the API than this diagnostic tool. There’s ongoing assessment using knowledge tracing, and a recommendation engine that delivers content to fill in gaps or guide students.

Woongjin, one of the most established education companies in Korea, uses an API to deliver an AI-powered English-language instruction, too. It uses the diagnostic test that pinpoints weaknesses, but it also uses the API to recommend lectures and assessment. Woongjin creates its own content and trains the recommender and assessment system on data it collects from middle school students. The data is fed back through the API on a daily basis for constant retraining of the AI models, so the accuracy continually improves. The company doesn’t collect the students’ personal information and all data that is collected is encrypted.

The company has about 35,000 paid middle school student users and expects to reach 50,000 students by year end. It plans to power other subjects with the AI API.

Every learner is uniquely different, and their level of knowledge constantly changes. Addressing the exponential demand for personalised learning and assessment is a superhuman task. But AI is superhuman, operating at a speed and comprehensiveness impossible for teachers. So, armed with AI, instructors can have superpowers.

About the author: YJ Jang is CEO and founder of Riiid, an AI education company that builds systems to power online and offline learning.