Birmingham Uni AI spin-out secures investment for marking system
6 Bit Education, a University of Birmingham spin-out, has received investment to pilot its AI-based marking system that learns how maths, physics and statistics teachers give feedback, to reduce workload.
6 Bit Education has secured seed investment from a fund that was introduced to the company by University of Birmingham Enterprise.
The funding will enable 6 Bit Education to get the system ready for adoption by universities and secondary schools.
The system is the brainchild of staff and post-graduate students from the university’s theoretical physics department, where PhD programmes include opportunities to teach first year students and mark their work.
Post-grads Manjinder Kainth, Robert Stanyon, and George Bartlett worked alongside university teaching staff Dr Austin Tomlinson, Dr Jon Watkins, and director of education, for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Prof Nicola Wilkin.
The 6 Bit platform accepts both hand-writing and digital submissions, and provides step by step colour-coded feedback, that shows where the mistake is, and the next steps in the calculation, as well as where marks have been deducted for incorrect method. This annotated version is checked over by the teacher before sending back to the student.
Kainth, who is now the chief executive of 6 Bit Education, commented: “One of the most important parts of learning is getting feedback, and reacting to that to grow over time.
“Providing that feedback is extremely expensive. Universities spend £2.3bn a year paying post-graduates to give feedback, and school teachers spend eight hours/week of their personal time grading and giving feedback.
“Grading takes away from other, more valuable teaching activities such as face to face contact, and is the leading cause of teacher exit.”
6 Bit also produces a summary that shows where students commonly make mistakes, so teachers can adjust their lesson plans and concentrate on these areas in the future.
Dr James Wilkie, chief executive of University of Birmingham Enterprise, added: “We’ve spent many years building up an expert team to help people create new business opportunities. We’re very pleased that this has helped 6 Bit secure their first investment.”