On Wednesday, April 14, Amira Learning, now the first AI-based voice tutor company for young children, announced it had received $11.3 million in Series B funding, led by Authentic Ventures II, LP, with participation from Vertical Ventures, Owl Ventures, and Rethink Education. In addition to the announcement, NFL linebacker Brennan Scarlett joins the board as an advisor, and the company debuts a new reading app called Read with Amira. Amira will be used in remote classrooms to teach literacy skills to children around the world during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
What is Amira?
According to Techcrunch, School closures due to the pandemic have disrupted the learning processes of millions of children, and reading skills are suffering from the lack of individual attention from teachers.
Amira Learning intends to solve this issue by providing an adaptive reading app that intelligently corrects errors in real-time as students read.
As education changes, promising pilots and research mean the company will grow as it builds a new app and expands its customer base. It has raised $11 million in funding to scale up with a new app.
One of the most commonly used exercises in classrooms is to have students read aloud a story or worksheet. The teacher listens carefully, stopping and correcting students on difficult words.
A guided reading process is fundamental to both instruction and assessment: It assists the students in learning while also allowing the teacher to break off the class into groups with similar reading levels, which permits the teacher to offer tailored instruction.
"Individualized instruction is the key to guided reading, and in COVID, we couldn't do this," says Andrea Burkiett, director of elementary curriculum instruction for Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools.
Breakout sessions are technically possible; however, "covid made small groups nonexistent when you're talking about a kindergarten student who doesn't even know how to use a mouse or touchpad."
Amira replicates guided reading by identifying the child's mispronunciations, skipped words, and other stumbling factors as they read a story. It is based on 20 years of research that has replicated guided reading successfully for decades now.
Will Amira Replace Teachers?
According to WebWire, Amira is the company's newest app that leverages more than two decades of Carnegie Mellon research and uses video recognition technologies and an understanding of audience voice to help children learn as they read.
It provides kids and parents with real-time feedback by indicating the correct words per minute, the number of times and texts the child has read, and the length of time they have read that week.
The tech will then select the next set of reading materials based on the student's current reading level to assist the student in becoming proficient in reading.
"The primary reason for needing to use a tech tool is to drive growth and learning," said Burkiett. "There are many exciting tech tools and software out there for children and adults, but we could efficiently utilize them all without impacting growth or learning at all.
Amira was chosen due to its ability to address a particular need in K-5 students who require constant practice and feedback to improve their reading level.
"When COVID hit, we were able to access every technological innovation in the industry," said Burkiett.
"With Amira, you'll have a 1:1 tutoring session at each student's level. She won't operate as a replacement for a teacher, though she's accomplished this role within COVID," said Burkiett.
There have been many new technologies powered by Ai recently, Amira is aimed at helping teachers to instruct their students how to read.
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Written by Lionell Moore