Knewton launches ‘robot tutor in the sky’ that learns how students learn
To get things started, the service offers lessons in Kindergarten through 12th grade math, English, science, and history. All lessons are only in English for the time being, with plans to add additional languages in the future.
The traditional U.S. textbook industry Knewton is out to disrupt is expected to reach $16.56 billion by the end of this year, up 4.7 percent from the year before, according to a Simba Information study on Market Research. But according to the same post ,77.5 percent of survey respondents who are not currently using OER content said they plan to use or might use it in the next three years.
Evidence of the increased demand was seen in March with the launch of Finland-based Eliadash which has a similar mission as Knewton of turning creative commons content into educational courses. Its first year in business, the company plans to offer 5,000 classes.
Interestingly, not all this freely available OER content was generated freely. In 2002 the Hewlett Foundation, endowed with $9 billion from Hewlett-Packard cofounder William Hewlett, began investing a total of $110 million in OER “to make high quality educational materials openly available anywhere in the world.”
To take advantage of those materials, Knewton was founded in 2008 with a focus on test prep apps and now works with 25 corporate partners including Pearson, Houghton Mifflin, and Softbank to create tailored educational experiences. To date, the company has delivered 15 billion personalized recommendations to 10 million students on 6 continents, according to the report.
In preparation for today’s launch of the artificial intelligence-powered service, Knewton spent the past several months with about 25,000 beta users running through the lessons so the software could learn which classes worked best where. “Our algorithms determine the most appropriate content to present to a student in any given scenario,” said Liu.
For now, teachers can also manually upload new content by entering it in Knewton’s taxonomy. But as soon as the next year or two Liu expects that even that will be automated. ““We want to make it as easy as a click of a button to upload a file, our system to be able to scrape it, to be able to use natural language processing,” he said. “If it’s a video, for example, to be able to determine what it is, where does it fit, and get it into the system so it can now be part of the recommended pool.”
The company has raised $106 million in venture capital from Chris Dixon, Ron Conway, Reid Hoffman, and institutional investors including Accel Ventures and Bessemer Partners. Liu described revenue generated by the company’s enterprise customers as “fast-growth” but isn’t sharing details yet. The company currently has 200 employees and is hiring for offices in Asia, Europe, and Brasil. Most recently, Knewton hired its first and only employee in Beijing.
For now, the company doesn’t have internal targets on user-growth, but is focused on improving the “learning outcomes” of its algorithms, in other words, how successful the software is at teaching. In the future Liu expects the company will launch a downloadable app and eventually, sell premium “white label” services for companies that don’t want everyone learning what they teach. “Putting all these things together we’re releasing what we think is the most powerful education tool ever created,” said Liu. “And it just keeps getting more powerful.”
Source: Knewton launches ‘robot tutor in the sky’ that learns how students learn
Via: Google Alerts for AI