In this two-part interview, the Otus team speaks with Chris Hull, Otus co-founder and president, to discuss how AI will revolutionize the platform.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already being employed to address significant challenges across various industries, but its potential within K-12 education remains largely untapped. Otus is on a mission to improve student outcomes by harnessing the power of AI and incorporating it into its platform for the 2023-24 school year and beyond.
While AI has the potential to revolutionize K-12 education, we know that human teachers and leaders are irreplaceable, and technology should serve to enhance their work rather than replace them. In line with this, AI will not dictate what teachers teach or what students learn. Instead, AI will make recommendations, assist teachers with routine tasks, and help identify patterns and context in data. This information will then be presented to educators, who will determine the next steps.
We sat down with Otus co-founder and president, Chris Hull, to talk about the role that AI will play in their student-growth data platform and the timeline for rolling out AI-powered features to Otus users. The addition of AI will, at the highest level, function as an assistant to educators and will:
- Identify: Otus will help read teacher content and student work, and translate and link items with the appropriate standard, including Common Core State Standards or any other learned standard.
- Search: Otus will provide educators with a list of appropriate teaching resources for students based on grade level, subject matter, tags, student interests, keywords, standards, and more.
- Suggest: Otus will recommend additional teaching resources based on an assignment or assessment the teacher has created, recognizing the patterns learned.
Does Otus have any plans to incorporate AI?
CH: Yes, we most definitely do! In fact, we’re working towards new AI enhancements to the Otus platform as we speak. But it isn’t something we’re just now getting into. The main goal of Otus, when it was launched, was to centralize all of the data and tools that educators need to be as efficient and as effective as they possibly can be.
We knew that AI was eventually going to play a big part in our platform, driving the efficiency and effectiveness of educators, students, and families further than we’ve achieved before, which is why we’ve been preparing and structuring data so that Otus can make use of AI that’s now available through ChatGPT and other similar AI tools.
As soon as this fall, educators will begin to see AI enhancements in Otus. Staying true to our mission, AI will be fully integrated into Otus, requiring no additional apps or plugins. The experience will be seamless and easy for all to use. It’s going to be incredible!
What are some examples of ways that AI can be used in Otus to increase educators’ efficiency?
“There’s an abundance of ways that an AI-enhanced Otus will save time and energy for teachers, but it’s simplest to view it as a built-in assistant.”
Building assessments aligned to standards continues to be a time-consuming task for educators and administrators. One might spend hours searching for examples of high-quality questions with varying cognitive demands that can be used to measure student learning consistently. With AI, educators will now have an assistant that is able to expedite these types of tasks.
AI-enhanced Otus will help to create high-quality questions or prompts that are aligned with the standards students are currently working on. Alternatively, if a teacher generates their own questions to assess learning, AI can help to suggest the specific standards it should be aligned to, saving teachers time from doing hours of research.
In addition to generating and aligning questions to standards, Otus will be able to help explain the data around which kids are struggling, what standards they are struggling with, and what is the best path forward — all in simple language that is easy for everyone to understand.
Last, AI will be able to recommend content to educators based on what they are currently doing in Otus. Using parameters such as grade level, standards, or keywords, these recommendations can be used to easily locate new, relevant resources that teachers can then decide to use with students.
Our long-term vision is for AI to unearth trends across different Otus modules and synthesize what’s happening in student populations so that no teacher or administrator ever has to manually dig through data to determine how they can best support student learning.
Who will benefit from AI in Otus? Will families?
CH: School districts will have the opportunity to decide if AI features are turned on or off for educators, students, and families. The idea is that we want this to be flexible and customizable, but yes, if schools would like to provide families with AI in Otus, they will absolutely be able to – and there are going to be so many benefits to it!
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Can you explain the family benefits further?
CH: Sometimes parents are lost when it comes to helping their children with academic work – I can say that because I’ve been there. What’s awesome is that AI is excellent at taking complex ideas and translating them into easy-to-understand language. So, a student’s family might ask Otus, “Can you explain what this standard means to me?” They might also ask, “What standards are my kids struggling with, and how can I help them improve?” And tapping into all the student’s data in the platform, Otus will be able to then provide clear, concise answers and steps the family and student can take toward improving.
For example, my daughter, Avery, is a third-grader, and she is working on her ability to read. One of the standards that’s crucial to learning the ability to read is R3.3, and my daughter was struggling with it. But what exactly does that standard, R3.3, mean? Well, it’s the ability to describe a character in a story and understand their traits, motivations, and feelings, and explain how their actions contribute to a sequence of events. But even if I’m able to search for the definition of that standard, it does me no good in helping Avery to improve her understanding of the standard. With AI in Otus, I’ll be able to ask which standards Avery is struggling with, and what they mean, and generate actual questions and ideas I can use to help her improve that standard at home.
Essentially, Otus will act as a sounding board for families and provide a place for them to go for ideas. Oftentimes, you feel lost about what’s actually going on in your child’s daily life at school and aren’t sure how to even get started with helping them. We want Otus to be an assistant to families to help them help their students reach their full potential.
So, how can Otus users follow this journey?
CH: Over the next few months, I plan to share many more details about the upcoming Otus AI integrations. We’re beyond excited to share this news with Otus users so as we continue to develop the product, they’ll be kept up-to-date on what’s to come, and, as always, we welcome their valuable feedback.
Any long-term AI plans you want to share today?
CH: What I can say is that this is only the beginning of our efforts to enhance the Otus platform with AI. We have a lot in the works, but like everything we do at Otus, we’re going to be very iterative with our AI releases and prioritize security. Our team is ambitious, no doubt, but we are also patient and deliberate.
When we bring these features to our users, they are going to be well integrated, and our platform is going to be as secure as can be. Most importantly, we’re making sure that what we implement in Otus stays true to our goal of saving educators time and helping students reach their full potential. One thing that will never change is our team’s passion for improving the K-12 teaching and learning experience and our commitment to helping educators make it happen.