New AI feedback tool for pupils

Education Perfect has announced it is developing a new feedback tool powered by artificial...
Education Perfect has announced it is developing a new feedback tool powered by artificial intelligence. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A Dunedin education company with a global reach is confident its new tool powered by artificial intelligence will not be taken in any "odd directions" by secondary school pupils.

Education Perfect, an education technology provider that was founded in Dunedin, has announced it is developing a new feedback tool powered by artificial intelligence (AI) — believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Education Perfect co-founder Shane Smith said they had been "very deliberate" in designing how pupils interacted with the tool to ensure it was focused on their learning rather than going off-topic.

"This is not just some chatbot that we’ve dumped in here," Mr Smith said.

"We do have guardrails in place to ensure that if pupils try to take it in odd directions, that those conversations don’t go off track."

Mr Smith said the feedback tool, which focused on learning rather than assessments, aimed to solve the problem of limited teaching time.

Education Perfect lessons typically displayed a "model response" for its more challenging questions that pupils could compare their own answers against, which teachers had the option of reviewing.

Teachers had said they would love to provide feedback on all their pupils’ answers but did not have enough time to do so, Mr Smith said.

The AI-powered tool generated personalised feedback "within a few seconds" of pupils submitting their answers, as well as highlighting the good and bad parts of their answers and suggesting points to improve on.

It could also collate the common mistakes from a whole classroom and feed this back to teachers.

Addressing this gap in pupils’ learning "had been a dream for a long time", but only now had the recent advances in technology allowed Education Perfect to make it a reality, he said.

"Our feedback is good. I don’t think it’s ever going to be as good as a teacher being able to sit down with a pupil that they know really well and be able to work through a problem with that pupil one on one."

Teachers were dedicated but could not be expected to be "on call 24/7 for every single pupil all the time", he said.

The tool was not a case of being as good as a teacher, but rather to fill in when they were helping other pupils.

Mr Smith expected it would be trialled by a limit of about 1000 classrooms across New Zealand and Australia in term 3 this year, as an optional paid add-on for Education Perfect subscribers.

It would be available for English, science, history, geography and language-learning.

This was the start of several AI-powered features the company planned to roll out in the future — including tools to provide teachers with deeper insights, and was the first step towards a "personalised learning companion" for pupils, he said.

"We’re going to be delivering a lot of value to both pupils and teachers."