Two Companies Coming Together to Transform the Future of Learning

Homework Without the Heft

If given the choice, Erin Green says she would do most of her schoolwork on a bench outside, while enjoying the weather on her college campus.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR PEARSON – George Washington University junior Erin Green uses Pearson immersive learning products for coursework on the university’s campus on Friday, October 21, 2016. Pearson recently announced a partnership with IBM to make Watson’s cognitive capabilities available to millions of college students and professors. (Larry French/AP Images for Pearson)

Tablet and notebook in hand, Erin, a junior studying public health at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., completes most of her required reading with OR using e-textbooks and immersive learning products, like Pearson’s REVEL.

“I like that I can take my course materials anywhere I want to go,” she says. “I’m not lugging around a heavy book for every one of my classes.”

A Virtual Tutor for Every Learner

Soon, Erin and students like her will be able to do more than just read chapters and review homework on the go.

A new alliance between Pearson and IBM will allow Erin to ask IBM’s intelligent learning software, Watson, questions in real-time. She’ll get answers in real-time, too.

Watston 1The Jeopardy!-winning Watson will be set up as a tutor in Pearson’s digital learning products.

The virtual tutor can ask questions, guide students with hints, and give instant feedback and explanations about key concepts.

“The idea of having a built-in study partner to help tackle the challenging questions college students get stuck on is amazing. With Watson and this incredible collaboration with Pearson, we are changing the way college students learn,” says Harriet Green, General Manager, Watson IoT, Cognitive Engagement & Education.

“Our goal is for college students to feel empowered, improve study performance and assist educators with breakthrough academic content.”

Watson will make studying more efficient and a deeper learning opportunity for Erin and college students like her.

“There are times when I’m doing the course reading and I have a question about the material. It’d be great to be able to ask someone, like Watson, about it as I’m reading instead of waiting until the next class or for my professor’s office hours,” she says.

Breaking New Learning Ground

The practice of using adaptive learning systems to deliver personalized learning opportunities for students isn’t necessarily new.

Watston 2

The current systems often use measures such as multiple choice or fill in the blank questions that offer only a partial view of a student’s understanding of course material.

The use of natural language software offered in this partnership will help students better understand and engage with the subject matter, while also providing instructors with deeper insights into students’ mastery of course material.

Together, Watson and Pearson are allowing students to get that immediate feedback that can enhance learning outside of class, when it is most convenient.

“Sometimes I need a little extra help what I just read,” says Luz Hiraldo, a liberal arts and social sciences student at Bronx Community College.

“For something like this to exist, it’s honestly so helpful—just the fact that you can ask, ‘hey, I don’t understand this, can you help me?’”