The Israeli-American start-up personalizing mass education

"Sense helps the entire educational ecosystem function better for everyone involved."

October 20, 2018 02:10
2 minute read.
Sense Education founder and CTO Dr. Ronen Tal-Botzer gives a presentation at the South Summit confer

Sense Education founder and CTO Dr. Ronen Tal-Botzer gives a presentation at the South Summit conference last week . (photo credit: SENSE EDUCATION)


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Teachers and students alike are greatly aware of the difficulty in giving and receiving personalized feedback in increasingly crowded classrooms and lecture hall learning environments.

While receiving personally-tailored educational feedback is crucial for student learning and development, it is virtually impossible when lecturers are faced with evaluating open-ended assignments in high-enrollment courses.

Sense Education, an education technology start-up based in Tel Aviv and New York, has been earning global recognition for its unique artificial intelligence-based solution for finding patterns in student submissions and providing personalized feedback on a large scale.

First deployed at a number of Israeli academic institutions, including Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University, Sense is now conducting a pilot program at a leading American university and is planning to roll out its platform across the nation.

Last week, Sense competed against 600 education technology companies from around the world and won the best start-up award at Madrid's prestigious South Summit innovation conference's enlightED competition. The company also won the "Best Technology Solution for Learning and Education" award.

Sense's machine learning technology platform identifies common response patterns that naturally occur in students' answers and organizes submissions into groups of similar solution types. This enables educators to provide high-quality feedback to groups of similar solutions instead of limited feedback to every individual submission.

"Sense helps the entire educational ecosystem function better for everyone involved," Seth Haberman, CEO of Sense, told The Jerusalem Post. "Students crave feedback and they want to be connected to experts in the fields they are learning. That works well in very small classes but the economics of small classes means that such connections are few and far between.

"What Sense does is cluster student assignments into groups, and then course staff can provide feedback to students in those groups."

In November 2017, Sense raised its initial funding from angel investors and OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based equity crowdfunding platform.

"With Israeli successes to build on, we are now moving into the massive US market. Sense has a pilot program running at a large, top five technical university in the US. We are also in active talks with the largest public and private universities in the States," Haberman said.

Sense's platform is currently focused on computer science courses but is expanding its operations into other fields. Its algorithms will work in any field in which student answers converge.

Although Haberman understands initial reluctance to introduce artificial intelligence-based solutions into the huge education sector, he has recently witnessed a shift in perception.

"Schools and companies are now quickly coming to understand that technology, including artificial intelligence, are key tools for them to improve what they do," Haberman told the Post.

"Beyond allowing them to be better, more efficient teachers, what Sense’s artificial intelligence does is to allow the classroom or lecture hall to become at least partially virtual and much bigger."

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