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Bringing Personalized Knowledge to Students in Public Schools Through Artificial Intelligence in ELearning

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Icarus (Bringing Personalized Knowledge to Students in Public Schools Through Artificial Intelligence inELearning)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Increasing amounts of funds are invested in education but students do not seem to become better trained. Global education expenditure is huge at $4.4 trillion with 62.5 million educators teaching 1.4 billion students. E-learning represents a cost effective alternative. One would expect that now, in 2016, e-learning had entered a new era, responding more and more to the tutoring needs of a student. However, studies show that high school and college students spend an increasing amount at their computer, without their grades increasing. Looking at the PISA results and other studies, the role of e-learning - after numerous spin-offs and evolvements mainly based on video and audio enhancements - has reached a point of evolution that may not provide more than its current value to students and professors. Specifically, it is not reflecting business realities and is not aware of student needs.
To help make e-learning more student-centred and modern, we have created Icarus, an AI plugin system that can be installed on top of one of the most recognized free open source Dokeos e-learning platform. Icarus provides tools to students to frequent a learning path and to teachers to create one as a personalized and adaptive tutor with a series of modules.
The objective of the Phase I project was to conduct a Feasibility Study and draft a Business Plan including the following objectives: feasibility study, partner search, market, business model, risk and IP assessment as well as draft a work plan for Phase II.
Task 1: The feasibility study showed ICARUS existing components need to be enhanced. First, the contextual component that allows students to see Wikipedia, Google and Youtube contents that can help them further understand the study material needs to understand further activities of the students. Second the AI learning path component that learns how the students progress and order the learning material accordingly needs more big data input. The feasibility study showed that two more components are needed: a social media component that allows students with similar interests and learning requirements to connect and learn together and a recommendation component that recommends material and professors to students.
Task 2: The partner search showed that it is most useful to find pilot schools based on their level of interest rather than the type of institution.
Task 3: The market assessment confirmed that there is a major market out there but that the freemium business model is the recipe for success.
Task 4: Since the educational landscape is mostly composed of public institutions, we will launch a freemium model to allow anyone to use Icarus and those who can afford and want customization to be able to get it.
Task 5: We understand our risks more closely.
Task 6: The result of the IP assessment is that we have freedom to operate and are not infringing any existing IP. Our best option given that Icarus will be open source is to protect our brand with trademarks.
Task 7: We drafted a work plan with 8 work packages to ensure the development of the two additional components and the integration with further e-learning platforms.
Task 8: All results have been summarized in a detailed business plan.
The final result of the Phase I project shows that we have to develop Icarus further and to expand our target market to reach the desired socio-economic impact.
The performance of our education systems seems to be really low since the drop out in school has remained the same along the past decade accounting for 30% nowadays. However, the landscape is starting to change now. Internet, led by mobile devices brings us the access to a massive amount of information in a matter of seconds promoting self-learning and on-line learning models such as Coursera. But these new ways of consuming information and finally, learning, have a significant drawback: 7 of 10 students want more personalized tutoring and 5 of 10 teachers need to understand the student better and interact more. The answer to overcome this drawback and allow this new trend of on-line digital content to become personalized, and an adaptive learning experience, exactly what Icarus is trying to accomplish. By these means, we will allow students worldwide to acquire new knowledge with much higher performances. In fact, Bill Gates stated that adaptive and personalized learning is the future of education.
From a social standpoint, an open source interactive e-learning platform can bring European students closer and eventually lead to equal standards in education. Also, using intelligent e-learning tools can allow integration of students with learning disabilities. For instance, dyslexic students take a long time to read information and can assimilate information they hear very quickly, which can simply be done by devices that can read text.
ICARUS Platform