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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Amesite CEO Ann Marie Sastry (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 4th 2020

Artificial intelligence is applied to EdTech in creative ways. Ann Marie discusses her company’s work in this field.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself and Amesite.

Ann Marie Sastry: I’m the CEO and Founder of Amesite. We are an artificial-intelligence-driven designer and platform provider for online learning. We deliver courses, programs, and the whole curriculum for businesses, universities, and K12. Our mission is to improve the way the world works using better technology to create engaging and affordable learning experiences. 

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with what target customer audience are you working with.

Ann Marie Sastry: We began with colleges and universities. When we looked at the space, the cost of college outpaced inflation multiple times. The online experience hasn’t nearly been on par with the online experience in other commercial sectors like music, shopping, and the like.

We looked at college and thought, “The last four years in a row, fewer Americans have gone to college. Online is available, but it’s not very good. It’s thought not to be equivalent or on-par with on-ground experience. Why? Because these other commercial experiences are very much on par with on-ground experiences.”

We entered the college market and started teaching first-year courses, and then we moved to professional programs with other universities. What we learned from colleges and universities is that they have multiple needs, interestingly, really strong needs in keeping up continuous learning for their alumni.

Alumni are very loyal to their colleges and universities, but the era of finishing your degree and never having to learn anything formally or informally is long past because the pace of technology is so fast. Things are accelerating so fast now, particularly due to AI, that people need to continuously upscale.

Universities are a natural provider for that. That really has been a stepping stone into a new era where they connect with their alumni and are continuing to provide programs. Amesite provides both a tech platform, which is driven by AI and content-generation services. These services utilize a remote workforce to have experts be able to come in and create content quickly so that universities don’t always have to be captive to the people they may have on staff right now.

Their employees or alumni have moved into new fields and they take a little bit longer to hire faculty in those new fields sometimes. Often when they hire new faculty in those fields, they’re busy with research. We step in and allow them to serve their alumni and keep them skilled.

Sramana Mitra: Double-click down for me on the AI aspect of this.

Ann Marie Sastry: There are three key areas where AI can be a huge benefit in learning. I tend not to even say education anymore. I tend to say learning because of the continuous upskilling that we talked about. The first one is in content generation and content refreshing.

Any three-year-old can operate an iPad and find information or talk to a cylinder on a desktop and use AI to find information quickly. In learning, we want that information to be qualified. Natural language processing and other algorithms are helpful in identifying content that’s both qualified and highly-relevant to the learning experience. That’s one thing that we do at Amesite.

We think it’s very important that if the experience is going to be competitive, you can’t afford to be boring anymore. People play video games or listen to music and get a customized experience rather than elect a learning experience where maybe the materials don’t come from qualified sources.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Amesite CEO Ann Marie Sastry
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