Artificial intelligence? Machine learning? What on earth do they have to do with the SAT and ACT?

At first glance, it may seem odd for a test prep company to explore artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies. But rest assured, ArborBridge is not replacing its tutors with robots. The reason we keep up with edtech innovations is so that we can deliver increasingly personalized, effective tutoring—which is why I attended the LearnLaunch Across Boundaries Conference last month.

The LearnLaunch Institute is at the forefront of edtech, and its annual conference is where innovators meet to discuss what’s new in the education space. The sessions I attended dove into current technology trends: personalized learning, data gathering, and augmented and virtual reality. The most important of the sessions, though, were those that focused on AI and machine learning.

AI and machine learning technologies have already revolutionized the healthcare and financial services industries—education is next. Educators are using AI and machine learning to leverage unprecedented volumes of student data. That data allows us to identify hidden trends and design innovative solutions to boost student achievement in ways that were unthinkable a decade ago.

But if we’re not replacing tutors with robots, what are we doing?

One conference speaker summed it up this way: Birds and planes both fly, but they have dramatically different capabilities. Similarly, people and technology aren’t interchangeable. Technology’s value is that it makes us better at what we already do and presents us with new opportunities.

At ArborBridge, we use technology to enhance every step of student learning. In 2019, for example, we’ve already added a new two-dimensional performance indicator to our SAT algorithm. This algorithm shows us how a student’s strengths and weaknesses overlap and reveal hidden places for improvements. It also helps our team match a student with a tutor who is an ideal fit for her individual needs, and it helps our tutors select the right resources for every individual learner. We use performance data to inform what we teach and how we teach it—empowering us to relentlessly identify areas for improvement throughout a given student’s program.

ArborBridge’s data systems and tools will continue to metamorphose. AI and machine learning systems will soon help us measure, for instance, when a student is completing her homework and how long she is spending on each question. We can then use AI and machine learning systems to analyze trends across multiple students and answer bigger questions like, “Are students’ overall score improvements impacted by what time of day they start their homework?”

At ArborBridge, we know AI and machine learning technologies will help our tutors deliver increasingly effective learning experiences that respond to every student’s needs in real time. The goal—as with everything we do—is to provide students (and their families and counselors) with easier, less stressful, and more impactful test preparation. I’m excited to maintain this focus as we continue to pursue the cutting edge of edtech.