Cognii, Colorado State Partner on Virtual Learning, Assessment

(Photo: Markus Spiske, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Markus Spiske, Creative Commons)

Colorado State University has announced a partnership with Cognii Inc., a producer of Artificial Intelligence based educational technologies, to enhance the school’s education and testing.

Faculty members at CSU will work together with Cognii in order to create a new learning and assessment experience, which will be powered by Cognii’s Virtual Learning Assistant (VLA) technology.

The technology offered by Cognii is expected to help increase students’ learning outcomes and the productivity of instructors, while at the same time offering high-quality personalized education on a large scale.

“The use of Cognii in the classroom is expected to improve learning outcomes, turning assessment into learning while enhancing the effectiveness of the time our faculty devote to teaching,” said Mike Palmquist, CSU’s Associate Provost for Instructional Innovation. “Through this partnership, CSU is on the cutting edge of recent research and innovation in the fields of natural language processing, cognitive sciences, and machine learning, and an example of how the University is taking bold steps toward transforming access to quality education.”

The new approach to cognitive tutoring will be put to use by students in several courses at the school, including two online undergraduate courses in Human Development and Family Studies and Psychology, as well as one online graduate course in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  The assessment tools used to assess students’ final level of learning will be developed as a result of the pedagogical strategies and goals of CSU as well as the research and technology offered by Cognii.

The programs, powered by Cognii, will use natural language processing in order to provide students with instant feedback on their open-answer essays.  Dee Kanejiya, CEO and founder of Cognii, said the technology will be used in a similar fashion to that of Siri on Apple’s iPhone through voice-command programs, but will involve a change as to who is in charge of the conversation, reports Quincy Snowdon for Xconomy.

According to Kanejiya, while the user asks Siri a question and then receives a response, Cognii will be asking the questions, which the student will then be required to answer.  Cognii will then collect information pertaining to how accurate the response is as well as how it could be improved upon.

In addition to helping students, Kanejiya said teachers will also benefit because they will no longer need to read hundreds of individual responses.  Instead, the software provides teachers with a number of analytics that allow them to know exactly how their students are performing in particular topics in a specific course.

“Cognii’s tools will allow us to provide formative feedback to students as they work on their writing-to-learn activities,” wrote Palmquist. “The writing that professors will see should be clearer and better supported than they might otherwise see.”

He went on to say that the company, founded in 2013, is continually trying to put its technologies to use in virtual classrooms across the country in order to help increase the number of in-person assistance that is offered in academic programs.

The software has already been implemented into a number of online degree programs, including those at Southern New Hampshire University.