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Nov 9, 2017 10:30:00 AM Jaeques Koeman

Scaling Education through AI Computation

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Over a decade ago, we introduced the first version of our adaptive vocabulary trainer, now called Dutch Reader, into the education space. Our product uses natural language processing and machine learning to analyze and classify news articles. At first, the product was met with great skepticism by most teachers.

Teachers, considering themselves uniquely capable of determining whether a text is suitable for a given pupil at a certain level, frequently focused on the inevitable shortcomings of our algorithms. Many of them did not, however, realize the learning capability of the system itself.

FASTER AND MORE ACCURATE THAN HUMAN TEACHERS

Ten years further down the road we have cross-analyzed over 19 million news articles and are able to deliver those to students in a personalized -yet objective- manner. There is no one-size-fits-all where we come from. The vocabulary trainer has trained and refined its own capabilities to an extent at which we feel comfortable to say that it performs teaching tasks faster and more accurate than human teachers.

THE AVAILABILITY OF TEACHING RESOURCES

Whether our AI-driven product ultimately delivers better vocabulary training than a human teacher is debatable for reasons that should be rather obvious. But it is far less debatable that we can provide quality vocabulary training to vastly more students, for a fraction of the cost.  One of the biggest challenges for education today is not providing better education to those who can afford it, but it is the availability of teaching resources to cater for the growing demand for education worldwide.

COMPUTATION SCALES EDUCATION

Recently, the belief that computation can help scale education is gaining ground. The (new) perspective is that A.I. is able to simplify and automate some of the tasks of teachers, making their work less scarce and more widely available. Likewise, our automated teaching systems are met with far less scepticism today than they were ten years before. Maybe because teachers are now recognizing that what doesn’t kill them, will actually make them stronger.

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