The iNACOL Education Symposium recently rounded off in Nashville, the capital of Tennessee. It was attended by more than 3000 educational experts, educators, policymakers and researchers from the United States and other countries. They discussed how to shape and change the future of education. Squirrel AI Learning, a representative Chinese education technology company, shared its successful experience in applying AI technology to education, which was really an eye-opener for many participants and they applauded Squirrel AI Learning’s achievements.
With a theme of “Driving the Transformation of Learning”, the symposium consisted of keynote speeches, lectures and workshops. Present at the symposium were well-known education companies such as Clever, Dreambox, FuelEducation, Schoology and Squirrel AI Learning. Many educational experts extensively discussed the application of emerging technology in education, online education, learning evaluation, educational leadership, school redesign, education research and evaluation, equality of education and social emotional learning. Also, they learned from each other‘s best practices and looked for opportunities for deeper collaboration.
Squirrel AI Learning is a committed game changer of traditional teaching modes. Its chief architect Richard Tong gave a keynote speech titled “A Super AI Teacher for Each Student”, and shared with the audience the deep applications of Squirrel AI’s intelligent adaptive learning system in AI algorithm, content recommendation, data analysis and teaching method. The revolutionary achievements stemming from these innovations, including the accurate diagnosis of students’ weaknesses, learning state evaluation and building a personalized learning path for them and optimal learning objective setting, were also shared in the speech. Richard’s speech won high praise from Jon Bergmann, the co-founder of the world-renowned “Flipped Classroom”, and many other experts and scholars.
“Compared with traditional education modes, Squirrel AI is equipped with the latest AI algorithm engine, which can help make the ideal ‘individualized’ education a reality,” Richard Tong pointed out in his speech.
In terms of educational theory, teaching activities should be a process of interaction between teachers and students. In the currently popular large-class teaching mode, however, teachers don’t teach according to each student’s cognitive level, but based on that “most students can easily understand the knowledge”. If things continue this way, a knowledge communication barrier will arise between teachers and students. Equipped with an AI algorithm, Squirrel AI supports content recommendation and can combine “teaching content” with “students’ knowledge conditions”. Just as toutiao.com recommends news to everybody according to the information read by him or her, Squirrel AI can connect students and AI teachers through an interactive channel to communicate with each other.
The content recommendation via AI algorithms is supported by Squirrel AI’s application of AI and big data technologies, as well as profound understanding of educational contents and processes. Upon its founding, Squirrel AI has established a proprietary AI algorithm and knowledge base. Additionally, Squirrel AI made a heavy investment in building a top-notch R&D team composed of Richard Tong, Dr. Cui Wei and Dr. Dan Bindman, former staff members of Knewton, RealizeIT and ALEKS, the world’s top three AI intelligent adaptive education providers. At the global AI Adaptive Education Summit (AIAED) held on November 16, 2018, Professor Tom Mitchell, the global luminary on machine learning, Dean of School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a fellow at the National Academy of Engineering and American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), announced his acceptance of the invitation from Squirrel AI to serve as the Chief AI Officer. Squirrel AI has also gathered a group of Chinese expert teachers, senior teachers and teaching and research experts to generate innovative teaching content in accordance with China’s educational policies, teaching content, test content, consumer psychology and social context.
On that basis, Squirrel AI succeeded in “decomposing super-Nanoscale knowledge points”. Namely, for one knowledge point in the textbook, it is decomposed into 2 or 3 knowledge points by a traditional teacher in the teaching process, while Squirrel AI managed to decompose it into 70 to 80 knowledge points. As every knowledge point is decomposed into fine-grained levels, Squirrel AI can better identify students’ levels of learning, so as to recommend specific knowledge points to different students. With its pioneering theory of “the association probability of unassociated knowledge points”, Squirrel AI can accurately test the levels of students’ mastery of knowledge points with a minimum of questions asked in the shortest time possible, which can greatly improve teaching efficiency.
The Squirrel AI’s intelligent adaptive learning system is not merely a combination of AI, big data technology and teaching process, but a deep integration of all educational aspects such as teaching, learning, testing and practices. Starting in 2015, Squirrel AI has been collecting first-hand data from the first group of enrolled students. A knowledge portrait has been drawn for every student with the AI algorithm and big data technology. Through autonomous control and full participation, Squirrel AI can acquire a timely understanding of every student’s dynamic learning to remedy his or her weaknesses and help him or her set up a personalized learning path.
Thus far, Squirrel AI has set up over 1,600 learning centers in about 300 cities from approximately 20 provinces aroundChina, offering services to more than 1 million students altogether. Though inseparable from online education, Squirrel AI is not merely an online educational institution. In terms of teaching services, Squirrel AI has put forward an “online + offline” educational business mode known as new retail education. In respect of online operation, Squirrel AI acquires traffic and then offers one-on-one instructional guidance to students. Among the courses, 70% are taught by AI teachers and 30% are taught by human teachers who are also responsible for locating and making up the deficiencies for the students. As for offline operation, Squirrel AI runs schools around the country in the form of chain operation, cooperation and direct marketing.
Moreover, the effect of “AI teaching” has been fully verified in the four “man-machine competitions” held by Squirrel AI. Taking the most recent “man-machine competition”, which took place in one hundred cities, for example, in terms of average scoring in the core part of the competition, the students in the AI teaching group had their scores increased by 5.4 on average, while the students in the human teaching group just had their scores increased by 0.7 on average; each student in the AI teaching group learned 42 knowledge points on average, while each student in the human teaching group learned 28 knowledge points on average. Therefore, the AI teachers will go further on the path of self-evolution.
However, as pointed by Richard Tong, chief architect of Squirrel AI Intelligent Adaptive Education, “For now, the AI teachers cannot take the place of the human teachers. For instance, only a human teacher can read the students’ inner thoughts and feelings, soothe them and relieve their stress, provide psychological counseling and enhance their learning motivation. Yet an AI teacher can only do repetitive “teaching” work, such as lesson preparation, course teaching, test design and scoring. The combination of AI with education will bring better teaching experience.”
From AI algorithm technology, data analysis and man-machine war over educational and teaching practice, Squirrel AI is practicing the idea of “A Super AI Teacher for Each Student” through its own technology, platform, APP and business mode. It has built a precise and effective AI adaptive education engine, boosting the more intelligent development of the educational industry.