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My Journey as an MBA Student: Exploring AIs Potential to Address the School Literacy Crisis

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Last Updated on August 13, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes

Education entrepreneur Vivek Ramakrishnan is on a mission to bridge the literacy gap in the United States with his innovative venture, Project Read. Recognizing that one-to-one tutoring is the most effective way for children to learn, Ramakrishnan is determined to make it accessible to all, including those who cannot afford it.

In order to scale up the impact of tutoring, Ramakrishnan has turned to generative artificial intelligence (AI) to design an AI reading tutor. The tutor combines the conversational style of a human with personalized stories in a decodable text format. The focus of Project Read is to develop an app that not only enhances children’s learning but also sparks their excitement and imagination.

The literacy gap in the US is a significant issue, with 65% of students, including 83% of those from low-income backgrounds, struggling to read proficiently. It is crucial for students to achieve baseline reading proficiency by the third or fourth grade, as it affects their ability to access content in other subjects. Falling behind in reading can also lead to behavioral issues, compounding the problem further.

Low-income communities are particularly affected by the school literacy crisis, facing challenges of affordability and logistics in finding a solution. Project Read aims to reach students of all economic backgrounds by targeting teachers and schools as its customers. The AI co-teacher generated by Project Read creates decodable stories at the child’s level, listens as the child reads aloud, provides feedback and encouragement, and generates personalized stories based on their progress.

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With many schools implementing Science of Reading-aligned curricula, teachers are facing an increased workload. In this context, the AI co-teacher serves as a valuable resource. The success of Project Read hinges on the level of customization and conversational interaction enabled by the AI technology.

Ramakrishnan stresses the importance of creating an app that is not only instructionally effective but also loved by both students and teachers. His personal experiences as a teacher and the strong emphasis on education by his parents have shaped his dedication to improving access to opportunity.

While Ramakrishnan’s long-term goal is to close the literacy gap and transform access to opportunity, he remains committed to his mission even if his startup does not achieve immediate success. With Project Read, he strives to make one-to-one tutoring accessible to all children, leveling the playing field and giving them the tools they need to succeed.

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Dina J. Miller is an accomplished writer and editor with a passion for business and education. With over a decade of experience in the industry, she has established herself as a leading voice in the MBA community. Her work can be found in a variety of MBA magazines and college publications, where she provides insightful commentary on current trends and issues in the field. Dina's expertise in business and education stems from her extensive academic background. She holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from a top-tier business school, where she excelled in her studies and developed a deep understanding of the complexities of the business world. Her academic achievements have been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including induction into several prestigious academic societies.

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