Using data analytics and A.I., Practicle, a Singapore-based education technology startup, aims to augment teachers’ skills by automating personalized formative assessment for Mathematics to help students practice effectively and improve faster. Practicle differs from other online platforms by using an additional factor, time, to model a student’s memory and competency. Practicle was incubated by Spaze Ventures, a leading Singapore-based start-up incubator.
During his years of teaching as a game development lecturer, Ng Chongming, co-founder of Practicle, discovered that even though some of his students got certain questions right in tests, they were struggling in class, and taking a comparatively longer time to solve them. That was when Mr Ng realized that time is an important clue about students’ understanding and competency, and co-founded Practicle with Eileen Choo, former MOE teacher and ICT mentor, to provide students with the first PSLE-focused adaptive practice solution that is supported by great teachers, grounded education research, and gamification.
“Digitisation, data analytics and A.I. have been disrupting many industries, but education remains relatively untouched today, even though its impact could well be the furthest reaching,” said Mr Ng, who holds a Masters in Educational Studies. “However, there is a limit to the effectiveness of traditional, linear teaching methods. By digitising the questions, we can use more metrics and data points to assess a student’s point of learning concerning the cohort, and continually select targeted questions that focus on a student’s weaknesses.” On average, students on personalised practice pathways can expect to improve up to five times faster than those on fixed problem sets.
Practicle also gamifies the practice experience, by having an animated personification of its A.I. interact with students in its system. Students who work on questions in Practicle earn “Experience Points” and level up, and also earn “Thinky Points” which they can then use to claim additional rewards from their parents through the system itself, which helps parents combat and monitor quality screen time for their children. Through this, Practicle hopes to inculcate in kids the value that they need to put in the effort to exchange for what they want.
Practicle’s proprietary algorithm was in development for over a year before it ran a pilot phase for Primary 5 and Primary 6 students in Mathematics. Through the data Practicle collected, they discovered that these students tend to take the most time-solving questions that involve the concept of Rate and Speed, and Data Analysis.
During this pilot phase, one of the students, Cayden, was able to improve from 68 to 97 marks (B to A*) in 3 months, purely by practising on Practicle. In total, Cayden did about 500 questions spread across the whole period through a consistent effort. Jasmine, Cayden’s mum, shares, “When Cayden came home after his SA2 Math Exam and told me it was very easy, I was very scared. But I got a huge surprise when the results came back.”
By leveraging on technology, Practicle is able to price its product affordable and make it accessible to all income levels. A Standard Plan costs SGD29.99 per month and comes with 300 Smart Questions to work on, as well as 10 Tokens to unlock video explanations, should the student encounter a question they cannot solve. Students who need more guidance can purchase additional Tokens at $89.99 for 100 Tokens. For students who feel that they are behind in their preparations for PSLE 2019, there is also a special accelerated PSLE Booster Program for SGD$499.99.
Rather than replacing tutors, Practicle hopes to empower them by helping them reach and impact a wider audience. Practicle invites creative tutors and teachers to contribute fun questions and quality explanations to its platform. In the same way that Spotify pays musicians for contributing their content, tutors can earn money for uploading questions or video explanations. Practicle hopes to build a large database of human-generated content of the highest quality, something which Mr Ng acknowledges cannot be done by machines at this time. “I realized that the Math questions in your program are very humorous, and struck a chord with children, especially my child,” remarked Mrs Leung, parent of a P6 local student.
Practicle plans to launch the platform for Primary 1 to Primary 4 in July and will be expanding beyond the PSLE curriculum to GCE O-Level Math in the coming months, to help more students reach their full potential.
“Nowadays, students are working longer and harder than adults. If students can spend less time practising or even enjoy it, then they will have more time for other activities, to discover more about themselves, which is important for their personal growth”, said Ms Choo.