Google Classroom ‘practice sets’ will give students real-time help as part of ‘adaptive learning’ push

Google wants to leverage AI to help kids get a more “personal learning experience.” In the coming months, Google Classroom is getting a “practice sets” feature that surfaces assistance and other suggestions as students do the work.

Practice sets in Google Classroom, which are created by each teacher, are akin to an interactive assignment, but one where students “get real-time feedback on answers so they know whether they’re on the right track.”

This “in-the-moment help” takes the shape of contextual hints like visual explainers and videos about the concept (in the case of mathematics). Correct answers are awarded with fun animations/confetti, while students are said to enjoy knowing whether they got something right immediately.

You’re stuck on a problem, but instead of growing frustrated, you receive a helpful hint or video that gives you exactly what you need to unblock you. You realize what you need to do differently, complete the math problem correctly and feel more confident in your ability to learn.

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Classroom will keep track of how students attempted to solve a problem for later review by teachers. Practice sets, which feature that auto-grading, are pitched as letting educators spend more time on individual instruction. As teachers create problems for students, Google identifies what concepts are involved. Additionally, performance insights provide an overview of results and identify who needs help or what concepts need more review.

Practice sets are an example of the adaptive learning concept that has existed for decades, but Google believes artificial intelligence (AI) today can make it a reality for “almost any type of class assignment or lesson at an unprecedented scale” instead of just “very specific content and curricula.”

It refers to a type of learning where students are given customized resources and activities to address their unique learning needs. 

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Google specifically cites advances in language models and video understanding as making this possible. The company is currently testing practice sets with some schools ahead of a beta launch in the coming months. Feedback from educators equated the capability with having a teaching assistant in the room, while students called the suggestions “Google magic”.

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