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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Quizlet CEO Matthew Glotzbach (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jul 27th 2020

Quizlet is a user-generated and AI-augmented study guide platform that has scaled exponentially.

Read on to understand more about this newly-minted Unicorn.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as to Quizlet.

Matthew Glotzbach: I’m the CEO of Quizlet. Quizlet is a global learning platform. We help over 50 million people each month practice and master whatever they’re learning. We do that by providing a variety of adaptive study activities and games to effectively help people prepare for tests, assessments, or any subject matter that they want to learn.

We provide flashcards, practice questions, interactive diagrams, and gamification. We combine cognitive science with machine learning to intelligently guide students through adaptive study activities. We’re the largest user-generated learning platform for students and educators.

We have over 400 million study sets. These are user-generated that people can use. They can create their own too. We ask and answer over a billion questions each week on the platform. We’re using all of that data and insight to power our machine learning capabilities to personalize learning experiences for each user.

Our ultimate vision is to provide an AI-powered tutor that can help anyone learn anything.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s parse that. First and foremost, subjects. How do you organize the subjects? What subjects do you focus on?

Matthew Glotzbach: The beauty of Quizlet is, we take users’ content and from that, we generate questions and study activities. We guide their mastery of that content.

As a result, we can handle any type of content. Quizlet started over 15 years ago with a focus on language learning and foreign language vocabulary. From there, it has expanded to cover almost anything you can imagine – everything from traditional academic subjects to professional vocational content.

The majority of our users are vocational and college-age users. We also serve high-school users. We get used across high school, college, and then for professional and vocational learning.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s do a couple of use cases. Walk me through how it works from a user’s point of view. Also walk me through how it works from the technology point of view.

Matthew Glotzbach: Let’s say you’re a pre-med student and you’re taking that challenging organic chemistry course. You’ve likely been using Quizlet on a weekly basis as you get new information and upload your notes directly into Quizlet.

Because we have such a large library of user-generated content, you can probably search other study guides that students in your class have created. You either create the information yourself or find it on Quizlet. Maybe you modify it and tailor it to your needs.

Then we take that information and generate different types of questions from that information. I picked a bad example because I don’t know much about organic chemistry. Let’s say you’re studying molecular compounds and you’re trying to understand the difference between hundreds of different compounds.

We’ll take that information and we’ll generate different types of questions. We’ll generate multiple choice questions from it so we can test you on your knowledge. We’ll generate true-or-false questions. We’ll generate fill-in-the-blanks. We use machine learning to personalize that interactive study experience.

As you start to master that information, we’ll do two things. We’ll space how often you see different types of things. There’s a concept in learning science called spaced repetition. We’ll start putting more and more space the next time you see that material.

We’ll also increase the level of difficulty of the questions that we’re asking. With a multiple choice question, you just have to recognize which one is the right answer versus a production question where if you’re asked an open-ended question, you have to produce the answer.

As you progress and master the information, we’ll create more and more difficult questions to help solidify the mastery of that information. You’ll use us to do that working through your course. As you prepare for the finals, we’ll automatically help you focus your energy on the content that you need the most work on.

The things that you’ve mastered will get spaced out further and the things that you still need to work on, we’ll continue to help you interact with that in the most effective way. 

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Quizlet CEO Matthew Glotzbach
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