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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

AI tutoring is ready for prime time


Credit: Khanmigo

Artificial intelligence is generating laughs -- but not much respect -- due to the implosion of Google's Gemini tool. (It's not just the images of black Nazis or female popes: Gemini can be an "AI-powered libel machine," writes Matt Taibbi.)


Nonetheless, properly trained AI can be safe, accurate and useful, writes Josh Tyrangiel in a Washington Post commentary. Khan Academy infused Chat GPT with its "database of lesson plans, essays and sample problem" in math, science, coding, history, and humanities to create Khanmigo, which serves as a tutor and teaching assistant.


Sal Khan and colleagues spent hours retraining GPT "to be less of a know-it-all that spits out answers, and more of a patient and knowledgeable companion," writes Tyrangiel.

I told the Khanmigo bot I was rusty at algebra (true!), and it presented me with sample problems that escalated in complexity. The focus was entirely on getting the steps in the process right. When I took a poor guess, it said, “Hmm, not quite. Remember, we want to isolate Z on one side of the equation. To do this, we should first try to get rid of the ‘+8’ on the left side. What operation could we use to do that?”

Tyrangiel tried Khanmigo out on geology and chemistry, before asking: “Can you tell me about racial passing in early 20th-century America?”


"The bot didn’t freak out or inject any biases that I could detect," he writes.


Khanmigo's cost to parents is $4 a month -- for up to 10 children. Khan is also trying to get it in school districts.


Hobart, Indiana schools beta-tested Khanmigo, he writes. Superintendent Peggy Buffington

says it's popular with students, who like the patient, judgment-free help, and teachers, who are saving time planning lessons and creating problems for students at different levels.


Indiana is putting $2 million into AI tutoring, including five different options.

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3 Comments


Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Mar 04

About time!

Start at 3 years old with pats on the back and cookies and milk on the side and a well-scripted, self-paced program could get most people through the undergrad Math curriculum by age 18 or earlier.

Look at how children learn their native language from loving parents, spoken and written. Math is easy, compared to natural language: no tenses, no genders, yet normal children learn to speak and write fluently by age 15.

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m_t_anderson
Mar 03

Hmm. The Khan folks did some careful training and came up with the genuinely friendly and helpful Khanmigo, and the Google folks did their thing and came up with the grossly biased and woke-dokey Gemini. Analogous to the guy who carefully trains his Labrador retriever to be both a good hunter and kid protector vs. the gangster whose perpetually chained-up pit bull savages anyone it can, including the gangster's own children. I don't think the problem lies in the algorithms nor the dogs.

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srcollins
Mar 03

Something like this for adults. I'd really like to relearn calculus or at least brush up on some advanced math. I have no real need in my retired life, but just the desire to relearn some of the stuff I learned ages ago.

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