IBM's Watson platform is now ready to help teachers prepare lesson plans with Teacher Advisor, a program built by IBM Foundation in collaboration with American Federation of Teachers.
Watson is a supercomputer made by IBM that combines artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated analytical software for optimal performance as a "question answering" machine. The machine is used in various industries but could be of great help specially to the education sector.
Stanley S. Litow, the president of IBM Foundation, says that they wanted to develop a personal advisor, which would enable teachers to find the best suitable lesson and then tailor the lesson according to their classroom needs. Watson has been loaded with massive content that will allow the supercomputer to plan lessons for teachers.
Litow says that the system will be ready by the end of this year to third grade math teachers across the U.S. The supercomputer will add more subjects in the near term.
Reports suggest that Watson will help teachers better understand Common Core standards and then incorporate them into daily lessons.
The standards are like a map that shows what students will be able to gauge at a given level. For instance, pupils in third grade would be able to measure areas such as square inches, square meters and more.
Watson will not list skills for the level but the supercomputer will look at the prerequisites for those skills and how they are built. Watson will then set exercises based on the standards.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the teachers' union, say that Common Core standards can be challenging for many teachers as these standards ask them to teach in a way that they never learned themselves. Watson will be able to assist teachers in this aspect.
"We have moved from memorization and application of mathematical formulas to helping kids think it through," says Weingarten. "If you don't really, fundamentally understand that it is root canal for an elementary-school teacher."
Around 200 teachers from different parts of the U.S., including New York City, are a part of the pilot program based on Teacher Advisor. Some teachers suggest that the system has saved a lot of time preparing lessons for children.
Although the program is meant to assist teachers, the system will not be used for rating individual teachers.
The program will initially help maths and it remains to be seen how swiftly IBM Foundation will add more subjects to help teachers in preparing lessons for their students.