What’s the Latest Development?
A new artificially intelligent textbook improves how students learn, fielding questions that occur naturally while studying and returning stronger test scores, according to a Seattle-based company developing the technology. The prototype of the software teaches an electronic version of Campbell Biology, the tome that forms the bedrock of undergraduate biology courses. “A machine-readable concept map of the 5000 or so ideas covered in the book, along with information on how they are all related,” helps answer students’ questions as they come up, resulting in a fuller comprehension of the text.
What’s the Big Idea?
The new software is called Inquire and when designers tested it against a control group, which had only the basic Campbell Biology text to work from, higher test scores resulted. “When we did our assessment, we didn’t see any Ds or Fs, which we did see in the control groups,” says Debbie Frazier, a high school biology teacher who works on the project. “Our students could use Inquire as a tool and ask it questions that they might be embarrassed to ask a teacher in person because it makes them feel stupid.” In total, the project is estimated to last over three years and require some 18 professional biologists to complete.
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