Introducing Soma: The Personalized AI Teaching Assistant Every Class Needs

Kavitta Ghai
May 8, 2023

Introducing Soma, Your Personalized AI Teaching Assistant!

We at Nectir are thrilled to announce the launch of our latest innovation: Soma, an AI-powered Teaching Assistant that is set to revolutionize the higher education landscape. Designed to provide 24/7 support for students and instructors while retaining "professor-in-the-loop" capability, Soma elevates the learning experience, making it more accessible, efficient, and collaborative for the entire classroom community.

We’re putting the power of AI-enhanced teaching and learning in the hands of those who need it most today.

Soma live in action helping students with syllabus-related questions. She sits within the main Nectir class channel, so you've got the perfect balance of human interaction and personalized learning support.

🍎 How does Soma work?

With Soma, any teacher can create their own AI chat bot that lives right inside their Nectir class channel. After creating their Nectir class channel, the instructor simply uploads their course materials of choice, such as the syllabus, to the “Soma” tab inside of Nectir. Soma then memorizes all the information she's given and instantly becomes a personalized 24/7 AI teaching assistant and tutor to all of the students in that Nectir channel. Soma's parameters of what she's allowed to answer are completely based on the information the teacher chooses to give her, meaning she can be trained to answer just the syllabus basics like "What's due next week?" or even "Can you give me a summary of what we covered in lecture today?" if she's given actual learning material.

This lets any instructor feel comfortable getting started with generative AI in their classroom and have the option to increase Soma's knowledge capacity over time by uploading new materials each week. All the teacher has to do is drag and drop files into the Soma tab of their Nectir channel and then any student can ask a question within said class channel by tagging "@Soma" in their message when they need her help. Soma can only interact with students when she is tagged in a message.

Soma allows students to get the help they need on their own time. Plus, the instructor doesn't have to worry about answering repetitive questions all day long.

🍎 Where did the name “Soma” come from?

Soma was fondly named after an ancient Indian and Buddhist moon deity that symbolized immortality and was thought to bring balance to society. In ancient texts, Soma was also often referred to as the term for the “nectar of the gods”. To us, Soma represents the infinite power that lies in providing the next generation of learners with the necessary education for becoming a positive force in this world.

🍎 Why did we build Soma?

In today's fast-paced world, students need tailored learning support to truly succeed and instructors often struggle to find the time to provide individualized assistance to every person in class. Soma addresses these challenges by offering immediate, round-the-clock support to every student, answering all of their basic course questions without enabling academic dishonesty. Instructors, in turn, finally get to reclaim valuable time typically spent answering repetitive questions.

Soma was meticulously developed based on extensive insights gathered through user interviews with faculty, staff and students just like you. We conducted in-depth conversations with students to identify the types of questions they often feel are "too trivial to ask" in a classroom setting. Simultaneously, we engaged with instructors to understand the recurring questions they would prefer to eliminate from their daily interactions. By incorporating these valuable insights, Soma has been designed to address the most pressing needs of both students and educators, ensuring a more efficient and streamlined learning experience for all involved.

Here at Nectir, it has always been one of our core beliefs that an accessible and inclusive classroom is one of the most crucial factors in ensuring that students persist in their academic journey. Empirical research consistently shows that students who struggle to find the help they need in class are more likely to drop out, while those who receive adequate support and resources are more likely to persist and succeed. Soma's constant availability on all devices ensures that every student has access to personalized learning support whenever they need it, creating an equitable classroom that caters to learners of all backgrounds.

🍎 Nectir’s Scalability and Seamless Integrations

Nectir and Soma are designed to be highly scalable, making it suitable for various campus sizes and academic programs. Whether your institution is a small liberal arts college or a large research university, Soma's AI capabilities can be adapted to meet the unique needs of your diverse student body and faculty. As an administrator or staff member, you can even get creative and create a campus-wide Nectir channel for general information and train Soma to field basic questions like “Where is the financial aid office and how late is it open today?” We are excited to work with you to discover all the ways that Soma can provide a helping hand to everyone on campus.

Most importantly, Soma and Nectir are built to seamlessly integrate with your existing Learning Management System (LMS) and other academic software, ensuring a smooth onboarding process with minimal disruption to your current technical landscape. By complementing your institution's existing infrastructure, Soma enhances the overall learning experience without imposing any additional complexities. Nectir also provides a dedicated Community Manager with each campus workspace to deliver live and ongoing technical support to every user, which anyone can access from right within the Nectir app.

We know from experience that every school looks completely different than the next, so we take pride in working closely with each campus to build an onboarding and ongoing execution plan that addresses your institution’s specific goals.

🍎 How Soma Works: A Technical Overview

Soma leverages advanced AI algorithms to quickly learn and adapt to the unique requirements of each class. Instructors simply upload their syllabus and other class materials to their Nectir channel, and Soma rapidly acquires knowledge about the grading structure, weekly lecture topics, late assignment policies, and more.

Students can then ask Soma questions anytime from right inside their Nectir class channel, ranging from "When is the midterm?" to "What do I need to do to get an A in this class?". Soma is specifically trained to boost student success and uphold academic integrity, meaning that she can't help students cheat. A multitude of parameters have been set to ensure student safety is the top priority.

By interacting with Soma from right within their class channel on Nectir, students are empowered to then ask the deeper questions to their peers and instructor, leading to higher engagement and improved academic outcomes. Our goal is to let Soma create an equal playing field for every student in class, so that they can engage with their learning community more often and authentically.

Soma is specifically engineered to uphold academic integrity at all times. If given information about campus resources, Soma is also programmed to remind students of relevant resources when she comes across questions like this.

🍎 Soma's Powerful Impact on Higher Education
  1. Accessibility: As a custom AI-powered Teaching Assistant, Soma is available 24/7 to provide personalized learning support, allowing students to access assistance at their own pace and on their own schedule. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those who may require additional time or resources to grasp concepts, as well as those who may not feel comfortable seeking help in a traditional classroom setting.
  2. Time-saving: With Soma by their side, instructors can reclaim hours of valuable time each week previously spent answering repetitive questions through email. This allows them to concentrate on creating more engaging and interactive learning experiences for students, which they can then disseminate through their Nectir class channel.
  3. Collaboration: Nectir's learning network platform promotes a sense of community among students, encouraging collaboration and fostering essential skills for their future careers. Soma sits right alongside the main class channel so that students can get the basic help they need quickly and jump confidently into the peer-to-peer discussion space afterward.
  4. Improved Retention: Soma has the potential to significantly enhance student retention by providing personalized, round-the-clock support tailored to each individual's needs. By fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment, Soma helps students overcome the barriers that often lead to attrition, ultimately promoting course persistence and overall academic success.

🍎 Bolstering Student and Faculty Mental Health

Soma positively impacts the mental health of both students and instructors by providing consistent and accessible support, thereby reducing the typical stress and anxiety associated with academic assistance. For students, Soma's 24/7 availability and personalized help enables them to comfortably ask questions and seek clarification without the fear of judgment or embarrassment that may arise in traditional classroom settings. This alleviates the pressure to keep up with their peers, allowing students to learn at their own pace and maintain a healthier balance between their academic and personal lives.

Instructors, on the other hand, benefit from Soma's ability to handle repetitive questions and administrative tasks, freeing up their valuable time and mental energy. This allows them to focus on creating more engaging and interactive learning experiences for their students, as well as dedicate more time to their research, personal development, and well-being. As a result, Soma contributes to the overall success, happiness, and mental health of both students and instructors in higher education.

🍎 Experience the Future of Teaching and Learning with Soma

The introduction of Soma reaffirms Nectir's commitment to pioneering advancements in educational technology. By integrating Soma alongside Nectir's virtual campus network, institutions can provide a cutting-edge educational experience, positioning themselves as trailblazers within higher education. This is the modern learning environment that today’s student needs to succeed in their academic, professional, and personal life.

Keep your institution ahead of the curve. Embrace the transformative power of AI with Soma and create a truly accessible classroom for all of your learners. Be among the first pioneers in the world to adopt this game-changing technology and experience the future of education.

Join The Waitlist for Soma Here!

Open to all higher education faculty, staff, admin, and students.

Be an innovator for your campus community! Join the waitlist now to be among the first to bring the power of Soma, Nectir's groundbreaking AI Teaching Assistant, to your campus. Experience unparalleled accessibility, efficiency, and collaboration that will set your institution apart as a trailblazer in innovative EdTech.

Elevate the way you teach and learn — sign up for the Soma waitlist today and be a pioneer in the next higher education revolution.

Kavitta Ghai
May 8, 2023

This is the future of education.

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