The 2019 ICT Prize recognizes eight nominees using Artificial Intelligence in Education


The 2019 edition of the Prize aimed to collect AI practices in education worldwide and map different actors using AI algorithms to improve learning and teaching. Together with the two winners, the Jury selected eight nominees. They include personalized learning platforms, applications that can detect reading and writing ability and handwriting for formative assessments, advanced language applications with speech recognition, AI teaching assistants and AI algorithms that can enhance the quality of open educational resources (OER).

X5gon: Cross Modal, Cross Cultural, Cross Lingual, Cross Domain, and Cross Site Global Open Educational Resources Network, International Research Centre in Artificial Intelligence, Slovenia

X5GON is an Artificial Intelligence-powered recommendation engine for OER materials. It works on two levels, first it crunches educational materials data, estimates the quality of these materials and difficulty levels and if connected into a network of OER sites, it calculates and recommends the most appropriate materials to learners. The recommendation engine acts as a hub that enables users to jump to other sites and repositories and discover new materials they never knew existed. It has two unique features:  first, it computes the user representation as accurately as possible and thus delivers personalization in a transparent way. Secondly, it computes the material representation itself as they come in different formats and languages.

X5GON has already delivered a portfolio of 20 prototypes and applications, including a mobile app and a number of APIs that allow software interoperability. It has launched a native application for teachers and students X5learn, a search engine connecting all OER sites that are currently in the network X5Discovery, and a service for teachers and students with visual impairment X5blind.

Using AI Language Teaching System to Innovate Language Learning of Under-Resourced Students, Beijing Xueersi Education Technology Co., Ltd. (TAL Education Group), China

TAL’s AI “Putonghua” Teacher is an application that allows children from low-resourced areas access Mandarin language learning resources and tools. The programme applies an AI Mandarin teaching and evaluation system for students, whose first language is not Mandarin and have a strong need to improve their pronunciation and vocabulary of Mandarin. While the application includes voice recognition and AI algorithms, the system requirements are minimal and mobile-friendly, available across all platforms and devices.
Currently, the programme covers 252 teaching centres in 47 towns throughout Zhaojue County, with 2,417 teachers and 70,462 students. Of the 9 million Yi people living in China, one third lives in Sichuan’s Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture with a large percentage of those below the absolute poverty and a literacy rate of 26.4% (2010). At the same time, Sichuan is one of the most diverse provinces in China, with 55 minorities and a population of 83 million, making language acquisition a necessity. Thus, the programme aims to improve the overall literacy rate, using AI speech recognition and big data, and to increase opportunities for further inclusivity and social mobility within these rural communities.

Lingvist, Lingvist Technologies, Estonia

Lingvist is an innovative language-learning platform, using hyper-personalization, large data sets and AI algorithms, to make language learning faster. Its goal is to significantly accelerate human learning and reduce inefficiencies in the learning process. 

At the heart of Lingvist lies a cognitive learning model that describes the understanding of how humans learn. This cognitive learning model is coded into the various types of exercises, content, and algorithms that run the product. As the application collects learning data, iterates product features, and measures these impacts on learning, it also increases its understanding of human learning. This enables Lingvist to improve their models and systematically make learning more efficient.

Lingvist builds technology that implements this understanding as computational models. These models predict what people know, what they will remember or forget at any given time, as well as the sequence of exercises students should engage in to learn most efficiently. The company believes that people have the capacity to learn 10x more efficiently if they only had a tool that could guide them to do it.

Jill Watson AI Powered Learning Assistant for anyone, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

The Georgia Institute of Technology developed an AI technology called Jill Watson for providing learning assistance to anyone, anytime and anywhere. It includes three novel and intertwined AI technologies. The first one is Jill Watson Q&A, a virtual teaching assistant for answering questions in online classes based on educational documents such as class syllabi. The second one is called Jill Watson – VERA, a virtual research assistant for answering questions about online educational resources available on the internet. Finally, the last one is Agent Smith that helps build a Jill Watson Q&A agent for new documents.

The results are positive: (i) Jill Watson Q&A has been used by >6,000 students in >15 online classes;  (ii) Jill Watson – VERA is presently assisting hundreds of learners on the internet; and (iii) Agent Smith helps generate a Jill Watson Q&A agent for a new document within  ~25 person hours of work. Put together, these innovative technologies help make online learning simultaneously more accessible (by supporting online learning), affordable (by saving teachers’ time), and achievable (by providing learning assistance), and thereby also more inclusive and equitable.

The Elewa App, Elewa Company Ltd, Kenya

Elewa is an education innovation company that works with educators and educational institutions in Kenya to support delivery of education that is both meaningful and enjoyable. Elewa deploys a mix of content, technology, and a strong layer of human support to solve some of the key challenges educators face. Its tools and approaches facilitate continuous professional development for teachers, alleviating some of their burdens and turning every lesson they deliver into an opportunity for them to learn.

Elewa combines all its solutions into the Elewa App platform. The Elewa App facilitates formative assessment using Computer Vision. The Elewa App has the capacity to mark classes of even 100+ students in under a minute without the need for specialized paper or specialized scanners. A normal scanner or even a single tablet/mobile device is enough.

The application furthermore packs tons of reference materials for teachers on 21st Century & Student-Centred Learning activities. Teachers are connected to share experiences and learn in group. Teachers are supported and coached on delivery of lessons and personal growth, as they make their way through the curriculum. Detailed and holistic reports about student understanding and progress offer a deep view to both teacher and parent.

Using artificial intelligence to help educate Syrian refugees in Lebanon, CENTURY Tech, United Kingdom

CENTURY is an artificial intelligence education technology company that developed a personalized learning platform for learners with different backgrounds. Its team of teachers, neuroscientists and technologists develop artificial intelligence tools for schools, colleges and learning and development environments. Founded by entrepreneur Priya Lakhani OBE in 2013, CENTURY’s mission is to help teachers across the world to remove learning roadblocks so that every student can succeed.

CENTURY’s technology combines artificial intelligence with the latest research in learning science and neuroscience. It creates constantly adapting personalized pathways for every student and intervention data for teachers.

CENTURY’s learning platform has been implemented by Ministries of Education on a national and regional scale, including to help educate Syrian refugees in the Middle East.

The company works in three ways. First, the artificial intelligence engine creates personalized learning pathways that plug gaps in knowledge and remedy misconceptions. With the easy-to-use data dashboards, teachers can quickly identify students who need additional support or challenge. Finally, teachers are provided with thousands of high-quality resources for use in a variety of learning models including homework, classwork or revision.

AI and eyetracking driven reading assessment for schools, Lexplore, Sweden

Lexplore is an innovative digitalized reading development solution for schools, districts and municipalities. The core is a rapid reading assessment powered by eye tracking and artificial intelligence. In two minutes, educators can get a clear view of a student’s reading level and recommendations for how to help them improve. Results are delivered on an organization, school, class and individual level.

Thanks to the use of AI and eye tracking, educators save time, while getting objective and comparable results. Methodical screening of reading ability is securing early discovery of reading difficulties and saves both time, resources and a lot of wasted education for struggling readers.

Lexplore, founded in Sweden in 2016, is used by schools, districts, municipalities in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and a number of emerging countries such as Germany, France and Norway. The company has conducted around 80.000 screenings up till today. The founders are researchers on the Karolinska Institute in Sweden (which has selected the Nobel laureates in Physiology and Medicine since 1901).

Mindspark: Using Educational Technology to Transform Learning, Educational Initiatives Pvt.Ltd., India

Mindspark is a personalized adaptive learning software, which helps students improve their Math and Language skills.

Few children in India perform at their expected grade level, and public-school teachers lack the capacity to handle the widely varying levels of ability. As a result, low-performing students are permanently left behind (and possibly drop out) as they do not receive the academic support they need.

Mindspark uses pedagogical research, and data on learning patterns; and using the power of AI and Big Data, provides adaptive and personalized remedial path for each child. Leveraging AI, Mindspark can adapt to the pace, style and level of understanding of the student rather than assuming that the student’s level would correspond to his/her grade. This enables the use the combined strength of machine (diagnose, assess, and provide data on learning) and man (implement insights from that data to counsel/coach) to improve learning outcomes, moving closer to the long -term vision of creating a world where every child is learning with understanding.