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McGraw-Hill ALEKS to Add AI-Based Nudge Alerts

Later this year McGraw-Hill Education will be introducing a new artificial intelligence feature to Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS), a McGraw-Hill learning product that uses adaptive questioning. According to the company, the new feature, called ALEKS Insights, will use AI to analyze student performance data. From that it will generate a system of "nudge alerts" that will go to instructors and point them to behaviors putting students at risk of falling behind or failing.

The company said Insights is still in development and testing, but is expected to be available in mid-2019.

ALEKS is a web-based assessment and learning system. It uses adaptive questioning to determine what a student knows and then instructs the learner on the topics he or she is most ready to learn. As the student moves through the course, the software reassesses performance to make sure the learning is sticking. Studies have found that students showing high levels of mastery in the ALEKS course will also be successful in the actual course.

As the company described, with Insights, instructors will be able to message students or view more detailed ALEKS reports to understand learning barriers. The tool surfaces to instructors the following potential problem areas:

  • Topics failed, the content that students have attempted multiple times without success;
  • Learning declines, where students show a significant drop in successful learning despite continuous time spent in the system;
  • Unusual learning, where students show a significant increase compared to previous learning, possibly signifying that students aren't doing their own work; and
  • Procrastination and cramming, where students show long periods of inactivity in ALEKS, followed by high bursts of activity.

"By focusing the initial build on the needs of educators, this technology is able to deliver value quickly to a group that has asked for this kind of capability," said Scott Virkler, chief product officer for higher education at McGraw-Hill, in a statement. "We built ALEKS Insights based directly on educator feedback."

ALEKS is used in both higher education and K-12 courses. The emphasis is primarily on math courses, but ALEKS is also available for business, science and behavioral science courses.

Among the institutions that have used ALEKS are Emory University in Georgia; John Wood Community College in Illinois; California State University, Northridge; and Seminole State College of Florida.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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