AI tutor is on the cards to bridge literacy gaps


Vivek Ramakrishnan is pinning hopes on a design of an AI tutor for one-on-one coaching for young people

Our Bureau

Stanford, CA

An Indian American educator, Vivek Ramakrishnan, is working on a revolutionary idea to provide a technology-enabled one-on-one tutoring program, so as to fill the literacy gap among children in the US. Ramakrishnan has observed that 8 out of 10 children who are not able to read proficiently by third grade, will not be able to catch up with the rest of the students.

He has seen the problems firsthand at the school he co-founded in Madison, Wisconsin when he was 19. “The statistics are eye-popping — but when you see what that really means in person, it’s devastating,” he says.

As per him, to ensure a more equitable distribution of opportunities for young people, who are left behind the learning curve, there is a need to provide one-on-one coaching for closing literacy gaps, a task made possible by his work.

This mission mode task titled, Project Read, has been co-founded by Ramakrishnan with John Danner, both of whom have on-ground teaching experience. They are turning to generative AI-based design for an AI reading tutor. This tutor is specifically designed with a conversational style of a human with personalized stories in decodable text, using phonics, words, and concepts known to the students already.

The special feature of this generative AI reading tutor will be to provide tailored solutions to the precise level and previous reading mistakes of each child.

Ramakrishnan said it is crucial that the app can spark children’s excitement and imagination. “The focus now is on building something kids love using,” he explained. “Because in ed-tech, even if you have the best instructional intervention, if kids aren’t engaged with it, it won’t matter.”

In realistic terms, one-on-one coaching is often unaffordable for the families and children who need it most, Ramakrishnan, thus decided to develop a cost-effective tutor using artificial intelligence (AI).

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