Rice University-based nonprofit OpenStax, which has already provided free textbooks to hundreds of thousands of college students, today announced a $9 million effort supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to develop free, digital textbooks capable of delivering personalized lessons to high school students.
"Using advanced machine learning algorithms and new models from cognitive science, we can improve educational outcomes in a number of ways,” said project founder Richard Baraniuk. “We can help teachers and administrators by tapping into metrics that they already collect — like which kind of homework and test questions a student tends to get correct or incorrect — as well as things that only the book would notice — like which examples a student clicks on, how long she stays on a particular illustration or which sections she goes back to reread.”
The technology will pinpoint areas where students need more assistance, and it will react by delivering specific content to reinforce concepts in those areas. The personalized books will deliver tailored lessons that allow individual students to learn at their own pace. For fast learners, lessons might be streamlined and compact; for a struggling student, lessons might include supplemental material and additional learning exercises.