Anyone of a certain age likely remembers the 1970s television show “The Six Million Dollar Man,” about an astronaut rebuilt and enhanced with bionics after an accident to be “better, stronger, faster.”
That’s not unlike what Riiid Labs wants to do with education.
“Riiid Labs is the AI department you never thought you could have,” says Michael Gamerl, Riiid Labs’ Senior Director of Business Development. “We enable educational content and tools with AI to make faster assessments, without sacrificing accuracy. This is game-changing, as educators can provide formative assessments throughout the learning time frame to guide lesson planning.
“Imagine having a five-minute assessment that is 90 percent-plus accurate!” Gamerl says. “You could offer one every week, rather than some monstrous summative assessment that is only backward-looking and too late to affect change. The whole thing can be done with or by a student.” Which, of course, would make teachers better, stronger, and faster.
“Our goal is to disrupt traditional education and liberate students and teachers from the shackles of inconsistent, inefficient, and inequitable education,” Gamerl says. “It’s where the three I’s come from in our name. This scalable technology will transform lives.”
The idea is to transform the lives of both students and teachers. In this case, change is good for both. Riiid Labs’ innovative AI technology doesn’t replace teachers — it enhances them.
“People who are worried about AI taking their jobs don’t fully understand that our technology is designed to help, not replace, people,” Gamerl says. “In education, we’re freeing up teachers from the tasks of assigning and grading homework assignments. We’re giving teachers the ability to be more individualized in their approach to a classroom full of students.”
“Honestly, if we can give teachers back some time just for themselves, that would be a huge victory,” Gamerl says. “Too many teachers come home with stacks of papers to grade. Better work/life balance for them will have a dramatically positive impact on student learning.”
Change can be frightening, especially for large systems of people used to doing things the same way for decades. Riiid Labs has the expertise to bridge that gap between conventional educators and the technology of the future. Because the future has arrived.
“AI is cutting-edge technology, and you can’t go into it halfway,” says Gamerl. “It requires a level of commitment and investment that many schools, organizations, and companies just can’t make on their own. We’ve made that investment. We are fully committed to AI, and our AI is focused on educational use cases. We can bring you the power of AI-enablement faster and more cost-effective than trying to do it yourself.”
Jim Larimore, Riiid Labs Chief Officer for Equity in Learning, says when he was first approached about working for Riiid Labs, he heard the story about how the company got its name. “Founder YJ Yang wanted to remove ‘inequality, inefficiency, and inconsistency’ from the learning process,” Larimore says. “When I spoke with YJ, I sensed his interests were genuine and strong, which made me even more curious. “And then I heard that YJ had been interviewed by a reporter for the Financial Times, who asked him if he thought AI could replace teachers. YJ responded that the reporter has asked the wrong question, stating that AI will advance to the point that it could replace teachers, but that the more important question was whether the goal should be to replace teachers. “To which the answer was, and will remain, an emphatic NO.”
“We know that all learning is a social and emotional process and that teachers play an especially consequential role in leveling the playing field to ensure that every student feels safe, seen, and supported so that they are well-positioned to learn,” Larimore says. He continued on to say Riiid Labs’ commitment to both students and teachers can be boiled down to something one of America’s great teachers once said about doing the right thing. “The legendary college basketball coach John Wooden once said that ‘a person’s character can be judged by what they do when no one is watching.’” “As an educator and equity advocate, I take heart in YJ’s heartfelt commitment to equity, even when his Chief Equity Officer is not in the room.”