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The advent of ChatGPT has sparked heated debates within the education landscape. As schools and educators grapple with the implications of this transformative technology, concerns surrounding its usage in classrooms have taken centrestage.

The apprehension towards artificial intelligence (AI) is not ungrounded — in fact, a survey found that about 26 per cent of teachers have already caught at least one student using ChatGPT in illicit manners.

In response to these risks, some educational institutions worldwide swiftly implemented bans on chatbots, fearing their misuse by students for illicit activities such as cheating and plagiarism.

However, Singapore’s education landscape paints a different picture. While there is some apprehension towards AI here, the focus is on co-existence and harnessing the potential of these AI tools.

Institutions such as Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University are learning to embrace ChatGPT and the likes, while looking to implement solutions to regulate the use of these tools.

Meanwhile, there has also been a surge in edtech startups that are leveraging AI to disrupt the education sector.

From AI math solvers to ChatGPT-powered tutor platforms, these platforms are helping thousands of students across Singapore to hone their skills in various subjects and examinations. Here is a look at some of them:

1. JustAskProf

JustAskProf
Image Credit: Keith B. Carter/ JustAskProf

Founded by industry veterans Keith Carter, Amaline Lim, Emmanuel Carter, Ian Hai En and Jess Uy in March, JustAskProf is a free-to-use AI tutor platform that is powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

The platform aims to aid parents in helping their children prepare for various examinations, including PSLE, A-levels, O-levels, International Baccalaureate (IB), as well as industry certifications such as cybersecurity, and analytics. 

With JustAskProf, parents and their children can explore and learn different topics such as economics and biology. What sets the platform apart is its ability to provide translations from English to multiple languages such as Malay, Hindi, and Chinese.

According to Keith, this feature proves to be especially useful for expats and others who have moved to Singapore as well as those who may struggle in English proficiency, as it empowers them to grasp the content thoroughly and effectively teach their children with confidence.

The idea behind creating JustAskProf stems from Keith’s personal experience of moving to Singapore with his wife and two children. As a parent, he aspired to play a more active role in his children’s education but keeping up with the syllabus, particularly for subjects like Chinese and Science, proved challenging.

Keith found himself helping out his youngest son, who was studying IB Economics and Biology, which was where he got the idea to leverage ChatGPT for assistance. The chatbot devised quizzes for his son and subsequently generated a comprehensive report card that included grades, insights into his strengths, as well as areas that required additional study.

Keith knew that he was on to something, so he (and the rest of the founders) begun building JustAskProf in December. The platform was launched in March, and is currently in its beta version.

JustAskProf
Image Credit: Keith B Carter/ JustAskProf

One of the key problems with ChatGPT is that it is too “free-form”, meaning that the chatbot can go out of topic often. This is why Keith decided to build the platform with constraints to ensure that the chatbot avoids veering off course.

JustAskProf also incorporates additional guardrails to redirect students who venture off-topic, guiding them back to the subject they are supposed to be studying. Additionally, considering that a large language model (LLM) like ChatGPT is strong in checking and testing facts but weak in math, the team specifically curated its educational selection to focus on subjects like economics and general science.

The platform has not only been proven to be useful for parents looking to be more involved in their child’s education, but also acts as a supplement for volunteer tutors in Singapore. In addition, it aids mid-career learners to test themselves on certifications.

To date, JustAskProf’s user base extends beyond Singapore, encompassing regions such as South East Asia, India, Japan, the US, and the Caribbean.

2. Higgz Academia Technology

TutorEva
Image Credit: TutorEva

Higgz Academia Technology was initially founded in Beijing. The company used to train algorithms for logical reasoning and mathematical calculations.

After its 29-year-old founder Joey Sun registered the company in Singapore and bagged a US$20 million investment, it launched TutorEva, an app that scans math problems and provides detailed, step-by-step solutions via text, drawings and vocal prompts through an AI tutor whose features can be customised.

The app, which was released in July 2022, has the capability to solve high school and university level math, including algebra, math modelling and geometry. It has also onboarded online math tutors (who are human, by the way) to provide additional assistance to students.

According to Higgz Academia Technology, TutorEva has hundreds of thousands of monthly users, who are mostly based in the United States. A quick check revealed that the platform has over 500,000 downloads on Google Play Store and over 10,700 ratings on Apple’s App Store.

TutorEva
Image Credit: TutorEva

Just last month, Higgz Academia Technology integrated ChatGPT into TutorEva, after it was reported that the company was in talks with potential investors to increase its valuation to US$100 million in a new investment round.

By onboarding ChatGPT, TutorEva provides “more human-like” responses to help students better understand the “why’s” and “how’s” behind solving these math equations. The app can also solve mathematical word problems, including probability and data relationship word problems.

Looking forward, the company aims to launch subscription-based services for individualised math tuition this year, and to add other STEM topics into its platform in 2024.

3. Geniebook

geniebook founders
Image Credit: Geniebook

Besides generative AI, many other companies are using machine learning to streamline various aspects of education.

Founded in 2017 by education veterans Zhizhong Neo and Alicia Cheong, Geniebook is an edtech company that develops online learning solutions to accelerating student learning at the primary and secondary school levels.

At the core of the platform lies AI technology, which powers a smart question bank capable of identifying a user’s academic strengths and weaknesses. By pinpointing areas requiring improvement, Geniebook can deliver targeted practice questions to enhance learning outcomes.

It can also generate a personalised revision plan based on the historical performance of a student to strengthen their foundations and accelerate improvement. Additionally, Geniebook’s AI can mark answers and provide instant feedback on students’ work and performance.

According to Geniebook, an astounding 90 per cent of its students improve after completing eight worksheets generated by its AI.

Besides that, it also offers live online classes that can host up to 900 students at a time as well as online class discussions, where a teacher and teaching assistant are assigned to groups of 50 students for help.

Geniebook
Reviews of Geniebook / Image Credit: Screengrab by Vulcan Post

The founders of Geniebook initially ran a brick-and-mortar education centre in 2007, which held math and science lessons for students from grades 1 to 10. The centre quickly gained popularity due to the personalised learning approach adopted by Zhizhong and Alicia.

However, the duo soon realised that offering personalised learning was a double-edged sword for the business. As the number of students grew, scaling became a huge obstacle due to the nature of tailored experiences that required considerable time and effort.

As a result, the founders conceptualised and developed Geniebook to overcome these obstacles while providing a personalised for students.

Today, Geniebook has solidified its presence in Singapore, as well as 17 other countries in Asia, including Vietnam and Malaysia, and it is looking to further expand globally in the coming years.

4. Explico

explico team
Image Credit: Explico

Similar to Geniebook, Explico is a Singapore-based edtech startup established in 2020 by Ashutosh Shukla and Sandesh Shetty that utilises AI and machine learning to identify a student’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

This enables the platform to design a customised learning module tailored to individual needs. Going beyond mere modules, Explico also offers regular sessions and assessments that dynamically adapt to the individual student’s proficiency levels, thus constantly challenging them and facilitating growth.

In addition to this, Explico’s AI helps students to find appropriate peers for study groups, and provides transparent adaptive feedback based on their performance, as well as a month-on-month performance report.

Aside from Explico’s impressive AI features, students onboard its platform will be benchmarked against local and international students’ overall standards in order to foster a competitive learning environment.

Explico also frequently collaborates with institutions in Singapore and internationally, to offer its students the invaluable opportunity to access a global education from a young age.

Explico
Image Credit: Screengrab by Vulcan Post

Both Sandesh and Ashutosh hail from a background in education, and the duo decided to turn their passion into “an entrepreneurial journey [with the edtech startup as they] wanted to add value and contribute to the education industry”.

In April, Explico secured US$1.4 million in pre-series A funding to create a more comprehensive learning platform for students and grow the platform within Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and Philippines. It is also looking to scale to Africa in the near future.

Will AI replace educators?

As AI continues to advance, its potential in the education sector is boundless. Embracing AI in education paves the way for a future where knowledge knows no boundaries, and every student has the opportunity to unlock their true potential.

AI-powered virtual tutors and chatbots provide instant support, answering students’ questions and offering explanations round the clock. Meanwhile, adaptive learning platforms can enable the creation of personalised curricula tailored to individual needs, which can foster deeper engagement, boost retention rates, and enhance the overall academic performance of students.

In the near future, the use of AI could also extend beyond traditional classroom settings with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.

That said, the emergence of AI does not — and will not — diminish the role of teachers and educators, Instead, these innovative platforms are designed to complement and enhance traditional teaching methodologies, creating a symbiotic relationship between technology and educators.

After all, education encompasses more than academic knowledge, shaping students’ moral compass, character development, and ethical decision-making. This is something AI will never be able to take away and replicate as it lacks the capacity to instil these moral and ethical principles in students.

Featured Image Credit: TutorEva/JustAskProf/Explico/KRAsia

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