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Intelligent bots work side by side with every teacher to accelerate student learning, including personalized learning--here's why AI is key.

AI is the key to scaling personalized, one-on-one instruction

Intelligent bots can work side by side with every teacher to accelerate student learning

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K-12 school systems are facing a “perfect storm” of challenges today. 

The pandemic has put students well behind in their education, with millions of children achieving below grade level in reading and math. The only way to accelerate their learning and get them back on track is to work with each child individually. Yet, at the same time, schools are facing a historic teacher shortage—and third-party tutoring services aren’t able to fill the tremendous need for one-on-one instruction.

Fortunately, there is a solution available that can address this confluence of challenges. Before I describe the solution, however, it’s worth exploring each of these challenges in more detail.

The need for learning recovery

Despite the best efforts of teachers and administrators to maintain instruction during the early stages of the pandemic, millions of students fell behind in the shift to remote learning. A lack of access to digital devices and home broadband access, distractions in learning from home, technical glitches, and unfamiliarity with online teaching and learning best practices are just some of the factors that made remote learning less effective than in-person instruction, especially for students in under-resourced communities.

A study by the Brookings Institution of data from 5.4 million U.S. students in grades 3-8 revealed that reading and math test scores dropped significantly from fall 2019 to fall 2021. In fact, COVID’s effects on math learning were more significant than the effects of Hurricane Katrina’s disruption to learning for New Orleans students. What’s more, the learning gaps between students attending low-poverty and high-poverty elementary schools grew by 20 percent in math and 15 percent in reading during this two-year period, Brookings found.

If you’re a teacher or administrator on the front lines of education, this isn’t news. You know just how much your own students need to progress to get back to grade-level achievement—and you know, too, that this won’t happen without significant intervention.

Overburdened teachers

Research suggests that high-dosage, one-on-one tutoring is the most effective strategy for learning recovery. For instance, by working with students individually as they solve math problems, giving them real-time feedback, seeing where they might be making a mistake, and prompting them with the correct step or strategy, educators can accelerate students’ understanding of key math concepts.

However, school systems can’t provide this degree of one-on-one instruction to all students by themselves. Teachers have far too much to do during a typical school day to be able to spend quality time with every student individually. 

Adding more teachers or support staff isn’t a viable option at a time when school systems are already struggling to hire and retain a baseline number of employees. And even if school systems were able to hire enough teachers to give every child the one-on-one attention they need, what happens when the COVID stimulus money runs out? Hiring our way to learning recovery isn’t a sustainable solution.

Shortcomings of traditional tutoring services

Many school systems are looking to third-party tutoring services for help with one-on-one instruction. But as K-12 leaders are learning, finding qualified tutoring providers isn’t easy. 

Research shows that tutoring is most effective when the tutors are certified instructors who work with the same student in a one-on-one setting every day by focusing on skills that are aligned with the district’s specific curriculum. As Education Week reports, finding independent tutoring services that meet these criteria can be challenging.

The solution: An AI-powered tutor that can be customized for each school’s curriculum

School districts need a scalable, sustainable solution for working with each student individually on curriculum-aligned skills. An artificially intelligent tutor that schools can tailor to their own unique curriculum fills this need.

AI-powered bots that use machine learning to become increasingly sophisticated are already widely used to answer consumers’ questions and provide a first line of customer service. Now, with recent advancements in technology from companies like Knomadix, we can scale deployment of bots in K-12 education that are capable of understanding the learning process and interacting with students to provide personalized, one-on-one learning assistance and extend the reach of a teacher.

We can train AI-powered bots with structured information so that they provide guided, step-by-step tutoring to a student, perform micro-assessments at intermediate checkpoints within a lesson, offer real-time contextual feedback to students, capture student work stroke-by-stroke, and provide detailed data sets about student learning gaps. These instructional bots can also give teachers the ability to replay student work stroke-by-stroke, allowing them to gain deeper insights into how students learn and where they went wrong. In the future, these bots will also be able to learn how to respond to emotional cues, so that they might offer encouragement or otherwise meet students’ social and emotional needs as well as their academic ones.

Knomadix has developed a learning platform that combines AI and active learning to deliver personalized instruction and intervention through machine-assisted, one-on-one support. In essence, the technology does what a teacher would do if they had the time to sit next to each student on every assignment.

While using bots for education isn’t new, the Knomadix platform is unique in that it’s fully customizable to a district’s own curriculum and is intended to work with any subject area, unlike other solutions that are built for one specific subject. Knomadix works for any subject that involves a multi-step sequence, such as multiplying fractions or balancing chemical equations. It can provide real-time help with any problem or question a student might be working on, specific to a district’s own curriculum. In this way, school districts can bring the power of AI to whatever topics they want students to master.

At the same time Knomadix is helping students, it’s collecting data on each student’s unique learning needs, so teachers have deeper insight into how to help each child for themselves. 

An artificially intelligent tutor is intended to supplement, not supplant, a district’s teaching staff. With AI, we can extend the reach of every teacher, making it possible to scale personalized learning district-wide—thus improving equity and accelerating learning outcomes. An artificially intelligent tutor is a feasible solution not just for learning recovery, but for closing long-standing achievement gaps once and for all.

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