BEN SMITH

Ben Smith

Mesa student management software uses academic insights, emotional cues, and artificial intelligence-based predictions to catch struggling students before their grades suffer.  

Ben Smith, CEO and creator of Gnosis IQ, said he created the program to solve a problem he has experienced with his own children.  

Smith said in traditional schooling, a student may be nine weeks into the semester “before you get that midterm report showing that you really didn’t grasp what was going on two weeks into the school year.” 

Rather than wait for a midterm report, Smith said Gnosis IQ uses artificial intelligence, real-time data, and machine learning models to “analyze real-time, what kids are doing, how they’re doing, and show the weaknesses before the kids fail.”    

According to Smith, “we’re not showing grades anywhere” but instead performance scores based on a wider range of indicators than grades alone.  

The program organizes performance in attendance, classwork, homework, projects, and testing, into color-coded charts and graphs to give a visual representation of student performance, Smith explained.

Gnosis IQ automatically pulls information from systems in which teachers already enter data, so “nothing in the system requires additional input from the teacher,” Smith said. 

Smith said Gnosis IQ is not a replacement for traditional learning management systems and grade books but a “supplement.” 

There are a number of learning management systems available, Smith said, but explained, “None of them offer artificial intelligence to predict and support the students, nor do they offer tools designed to empower the students, and the educators and the parents.”

The artificial intelligence analyzes a student’s recent performance, along with their performance throughout the semester, and compares it to a “virtual peer set based on the historical data that we’ve got,” Smith said.  

Aligning student performance with a virtual peer set allows students to “see what will happen if nothing changes,” with over 90 percent accuracy one day out as it currently shows, Smith said.  

Smith said the software is also over 90 percent accurate up to a week out and he hopes that by June 2022 he can make it 90 percent accurate up to three months.  

Smith said the software currently only shows one day of predictions – in part due to “Hollywood, they’ve turned artificial intelligence into a sci fi nightmare.”  

In contrast to its Hollywood reputation, Smith added, artificial intelligence is “actually empowering.”  

It “allows parents, students, schools, the district, to really understand what’s going to happen if they stay the course,” he said.  

Smith said Gnosis IQ also allows for quick emotional communication from students to parents, teachers, and administrators through a “social emotional cues” feature.  

Students can give social emotional cues through a simple extension available on all major web browsers, or within the program itself, Smith said.  

The social emotional cues consist of 12 “core emotions that lead to action” which Smith said he found in a study he conducted while working toward a Ph.D. in psychology.  

Smith said Gnosis IQ’s social emotional cues feature avoids the “social stigma that comes with sitting in class, raising your hand, and asking to go see the counselor or the principal or wanting to talk to the teacher after class.”  

“It’s something they can do without really anybody else seeing, and it allows them to share with their academic stakeholders how they’re feeling, without having to take any more action than two clicks,” Smith said.  

Social emotional cues are logged on a timeline page as well as in Gnosis IQ’s built-in task calendar, Smith said.  He said this allows parents, teachers, and administrators to “paint an entire picture of really what’s going on with that student.”  

While teachers can see every emotional cue, they are only notified for “risk emotions, like depressed, sick, and mad,” so they know when issues arise, Smith said.  

According to Smith, student engagement with Gnosis IQ at Isaac Elementary School District, where the program is currently in use, has “been amazing.”  

“There have been students that have used the tool to really cry for help, and there’s other students that use the tool to just share that they’re having a great day,” Smith said.  

Smith explained that data for each student is grouped together to provide analytics for any part of the school system.

Smith said he and his team had been toying with the idea for Gnosis IQ since 2015, but most of the program’s development has happened since March 2020.  

Smith said they are negotiating with “a good number of other districts who plan to go live in the fall.”  

Smith said the team at Gnosis IQ is also talking to schools nationwide about implementing the program for summer school this year.

Gnosis IQ is also in talks with the Arizona Governor’s office “to support students statewide,” Smith said.

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