Building the Classroom of the Future with Soma, The First Personalized AI Teaching Assistant
May 8, 2023
To all the pioneers paving the path towards the future of education,
Today marks a milestone in the evolution of teaching and learning as we proudly unveil our latest Nectir innovation, Soma—the world’s first personalized AI Teaching Assistant. As the founders of Nectir, our mission over the past five years has been to harness the power of social education to transform the way students and teachers across the globe collaborate, engage, and succeed academically. With Soma, we are taking a monumental step towards realizing that vision.
We Built Soma With You in Mind
As you know, Nectir is a virtual campus communication network designed to amplify collaboration, increase retention, and prepare students for the future of work. We built Nectir as college students ourselves after reaching our breaking point with the outdated technology in every class. Five years later, Nectir has revolutionized the way students and instructors communicate by fostering vibrant virtual learning communities and reducing the burden on instructors' to provide constant support. Now, with Soma integrated into each Nectir class channel, we are further elevating the educational experience for every student, instructor, staff, and administrator on campus.
When our team looked at the past five years of data on the most engaged and effective Nectir class channels, some having over 40k messages sent between students and their instructor in just one term, there was always one consistent factor that pointed to success—the presence of a teaching assistant. We realized these students were able to confidently engage with each other and the material because they had some level of ongoing personalized support available. However, with the current 300k+ deficit of teachers in the US, most schools don’t have the ability to provide students with the individual support they need in every course. We are already seeing the ripple effects of this issue, with over 1.3 million students choosing to not return to college post-COVID. The State of Higher Education Report 2022 stated the reasons students aren’t enrolling or staying in school are that they have tremendous stress, feel unprepared academically and struggle with heavy family and work obligations, or can’t afford it. We need actionable solutions that provide students with the support they need ASAP without breaking the bank.
Seeing this vast gap in the learning experience, our team set out to create a personalized teaching assistant that could scale across an entire campus in seconds and provide every student with a learning partner they can access any time of the day.Enter Soma, the TA of the future.
How Soma Works
Soma, named after the Indian moon deity symbolizing immortality, embodies the transformative potential of AI in education. Our engineering team has spent months meticulously designing Soma to learn the ins and outs of each individual course in seconds. Each instructor alone gets to decide what information their Soma is able to access and provide to students, ensuring that every instance of Soma is personalized for just that classroom. Once the instructor uploads their course materials to Soma, she is then accessible 24/7 to students from right within their Nectir class channel. This allows students to ask her course-related questions ranging from "When is the midterm?" to "What is the late policy for assignments?" to “What’s due next week?” If the instructor chooses, they can even upload learning materials like lecture summaries to Soma so she can provide customized tutoring support. The possibilities are endless and we’re incredibly excited to see all the creative ways that Soma can be utilized to lend a helping hand to everyone on campus.
Soma and Academic Integrity
Soma is meticulously designed to uphold academic integrity while supporting student success, all made possible by our engineering team’s thoughtful use of advanced AI algorithms and natural language processing techniques. These sophisticated technologies enable Soma to understand and analyze student queries in real-time, distinguishing between legitimate questions seeking clarification and those attempting to bypass ethical boundaries. To prevent cheating, Soma is programmed to avoid providing direct answers to specific homework or exam questions. Instead, she offers guidance and resources that encourage students to think critically, promoting their own problem-solving skills. Furthermore, Soma's machine learning capabilities ensure continuous improvement in detecting and addressing potential academic dishonesty, as she adapts to various classroom scenarios and learns from each interaction.
By addressing all the basic course questions, Soma empowers students to then seek deeper material understanding from their peers and instructor within the same Nectir class channel. With a personalized learning partner to support them in every class, students can participate in their Nectir classroom community with confidence and ease. This heightened engagement fosters a more enriching and efficient learning environment for everyone involved. This is the classroom of the future that we’ve all been dreaming about.
The Education Revolution is Finally Here
Just imagine the possibilities: a campus where students enter each class with confidence, knowing they will have all the support they need to thrive. As the classic stressors are alleviated, students can focus entirely on applying the material, collaborating with classmates, and extracting the full value from their education in every single class. Instructors, in turn, can reclaim valuable time and dedicate themselves to creating the most modern and engaging learning community possible.
Soma is more than just an AI Teaching Assistant; she's the catalyst that will propel higher education into a new era of accessibility and inclusivity. We invite you to join us in revolutionizing the way we teach and learn by bringing Nectir and Soma to your campus. Together, we can transform our 400-year-old classroom model to redefine the academic experience and empower every student to achieve their highest potential. Welcome to the future of higher education.