Google Brings AI to mLearning with Socratic iOS App
By Bhupinder Kour
August 17, 2019 5 min read
Last update on: August 17, 2019

After acquiring Socratic last year, Google has announced an AI-powered revamp in the mLeaning application. 

Socratic was founded in 2013 with the goal to create a community that would make learning accessible to students. The application started off a Quora like Q&A platform for students to ask questions from experts. 

After gaining an active community of 500,000 students, the company decided to focus more on utility and less on connecting users. 

In February 2018, they announced that the social feature of the application would be removed. And then that June, the announcement of closing company’s Q&A website for user contribution was also made.

“We, as anyone, are bound by the constraints of reality—you just can’t do everything—which means making decisions and tradeoffs where necessary. This one is particularly painful,” wrote Community Lead Becca McArthur, back in 2018.

However, the strategy was to make Socratic a Google-backed AI product: a strategy which worked. 

How does the revamped Socratic app works?

The revamped version which is now getting rolled out on iOS (and will be available on Android this fall) would allow students to take a photo to get answers or to ask their question verbally to get the answers. It is an example of the ways AI is changing the mobile economy

When a student would ask a question or take a photo from classroom handout of a question like “what is the difference between their and there?” Socratic app will get back to them with top match, which would be followed by explainers, Q&A section and even YouTube videos and links. It is something like a customized search engine specially for homework questions.

Google said that they have developed and trained algorithms that can analyze student’s questions and identify underlying concepts to point the users to the resources. For the students who might need more help, the application would break down the concept in easy to understand, smaller lessons. 

In addition to all of this, the application would also include guides on 1,000+ topics, developed from the help of educators. These guides would help the students in preparing for tests or bettering the understanding of a concept.

“In building educational resources for teachers and students, we’ve spent a lot of time talking to them about challenges they face and how we can help,” writes Bhansali, the co-founder of Socratic. “We’ve heard that students often get ‘stuck’ while studying. When they have questions in the classroom, a teacher can quickly clarify—but it’s frustrating for students who spend hours trying to find answers while studying on their own,” he says.

The app is all set to pave the grounds for incorporating complex algorithms in mLearning app development for making education easier. 

Bhupinder Kour
Bhupinder Kour
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