Building Aeriem: Adaptive learning for K-12 education

What do you do when you are disgruntled about your textbook? You go play cricket. But we decided to build an AI recommendation engine for learning material instead.

The undergrad engineering system in India

Undergrad Engineering in India is a peculiar beast.
Often, it is easy to exhaust 4 years through it all, only to realize that you might not have learnt as much as you thought you would. But to make it to undergrad engineering, you go through a walk of fire better known as engineering entrance examinations. It is competitive, brutal and forces students to begin preparing for it from as early as 5 years prior to the exams.

The iPad’s effect on learning

When Apple launched the iPhone back in 2007, not many could have predicted how massive the shift in the technology landscape it would end up causing. When the iPad was launched a few years later, the expectation was not any lesser.

India’s moment with tablets beginning with Aakash

Imagine for a moment you’re an entrepreneur looking at a stubborn problem — in this case, a mass of a few hundred million poor, uneducated people. To lift them out of poverty, friends who study economics tell you the first thing you ought to do is offer them access to affordable education. And that if you can, you’ll achieve three things. Create a better world; create an incredibly compelling business; and perhaps get a stab at a completely different country.

Job to be done: need for a blended solution

Before the Mobilis, there was the Simputer, which stood for a simple, inexpensive and multilingual people’s computer. The hand-held low-cost computing device was introduced in 2002 by the Simputer Trust, a non-profit organization formed by seven Indian scientists and engineers. It was touted as a device that would change the low-cost computing ecosystem in the country. By 2011, both the Simputer and the Mobilis had faded from public memory,

Aakash died a slow death, but the idea remained before, and stood after

The race to build the world’s cheapest computing device started when the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project was announced in 2005. Headed by Nicholas Negroponte, best known as the founder of MIT’s Media Labs, it was a non-profit entity and funded by global majors like AMD, Google and Nortel among others. The central theme to this idea was to build a laptop that would cost no more than $100.

The Opportunity: Full Stack Learning at Indian Education Centres

  • The operating system
  • The application ecosystem
  • The content and learning materials
  • The cloud as a delivery medium for pedagogy
  1. We built a learning management system that was actually useable on a tablet
  2. We partnered with a popular ed-tech app vendor for a whole suite of additional apps
  3. We built the LMS to be cloud-native and not rely on an SD card, which was still the dominant method of content transfer back then
  4. We pitched to the largest test prep institutes in the country to make their content power the device

Why an LMS?

A robust, high-quality LMS is a vital tool to the success of any online course and can make or break an institution’s reputation in the highly competitive education market. LMSs not only need to provide content to learners, but they must also facilitate timely and accurate communication between learners, course facilitators, and other institutional stakeholders.

Project Acetab

To build Aeirem’s vision out, we decided to partner with an educational institution on the launch of a custom branded hardware solution better known as Project Acetab.

  • App makes sure that the content is pre encrypted from the cloud and can be accessed only securely
  • The app enables you to store offline content in a restricted and a safe manner
  • Highly customizable to the needs of the educational institution, and also can be provided with some robust featuresets
  • Easily deployable and efficient student demographic reach
  • Analytics and test taking options with detailed answers can be provided
  • This scenario in essence is the software offering that is allowed on any hardware platform
  • Internet access control cannot be restricted since the devices can range from smartphones to tablets of varying sizes and specifications
  • 3rd party apps can be accessed but there is no method to control the access, anything can be downloaded from the App Market
  • No form of content restriction in terms of an SD card deployment is possible. Any locally stored content must be on the device itself.
  • The app will be a standalone addition to the device and not a complete part of the device core functionality
  • The App cannot have system level privileges. Hence, it cannot function core system level tasks such as access to nested applications
  • The App is more service oriented than device oriented and represents a fundamental change in the AceTAB project

Adaptive Learning Management Systems:

College students and high school seniors believe that tablets are just as valuable for educational purposes as they are for personal entertainment.

Expert model

The expert model stores information about the material which is being taught. This can be as simple as the solutions for the question set but it can also include lessons and tutorials and, in more sophisticated systems, even expert methodologies to illustrate approaches to the questions.

Student model

Student model algorithms have been a rich research area over the past twenty years.

Instructional model

The instructional model generally looks to incorporate the best educational tools that technology has to offer (such as multimedia presentations) with expert teacher advice for presentation methods. In a CAT-style student model, the instructional model will simply rank lessons in correspondence with the ranks for the question pool. When the student’s level has been satisfactorily determined, the instructional model provides the appropriate lesson. The more advanced student models which assess based on concepts need an instructional model which organizes its lessons by concept as well. The instructional model can be designed to analyze the collection of weaknesses and tailor a lesson plan accordingly.

Classroom Implementation

Adaptive learning is also called intelligent tutoring system.

Distance learning implementation

The field of distance learning is now incorporating aspects of adaptive learning. Initial systems without adaptive learning were able to provide automated feedback to students who are presented questions from a preselected question bank. That approach however lacks the guidance which teachers in the classroom can provide. Current trends in distance learning call for the use of adaptive learning to implement intelligent dynamic behavior in the learning environment.

Adaptive learning seems a big deal, why isn’t it a hotter field of innovation?

Several factors are at work.

Ed-Tech & Learning apps since then

A lot has happened in the space over the years of 2018–2020. When we started Aeriem a number of other learning apps were just beginning to get going as well. A name that used to be circulating often then, and now, is Byjus. The

I write about possibilities in the Metaverse & productivity in the Meatverse ♦︎ Founder, Scapic (acquired by Flipkart)

I write about possibilities in the Metaverse & productivity in the Meatverse ♦︎ Founder, Scapic (acquired by Flipkart)