A Bulgarian Team is Among the Finalists at Microsoft Global Competition for Innovations in Education

The students from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” developed an AI-based knowledge model, that may increase efficiency of the current lecture-based educational system

The team from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, is one of the six finalists at the international competition The next AI Guardians. Microsoft aims to show how AI changes the future of education. The Bulgarian team is joining the finals thanks to a project, that offers a personalised approach to studying and learning. The solution can boost the productivity of the current lecture-based educational system, while being fun and interactive at the same time.

Тheir project, resembling a “knowledge tree”, enables students to structure their educational goals into clusters of knowledge called “nodes”. Each leaf is an online material (video, article, etc.) and the student, with the guidance of the teacher, is encouraged to find his or her own knowledge sources, just like in real life. After covering each node, an AI-based algorithm will generate a questionnaire from the information contained within that unit. That is how the students’ understanding of the knowledge in the node will be evaluated in the most accurate way. With such a test, the student can instantly assess Their knowledge the teacher can quickly provide guidance exactly where it’s needed. The students whо score better can help their classmates with studying helping their knowledge tree to grow.

“With the sudden shift in education because of COVID-19, it has become evident that the traditional lecture-based system cannot be just transferred online. Teaching at the same pace for all students is not the most efficient way of learning. There are three essential problems related to the current system we are trying to solve with our project:  knowledge – the hard facts and principles, assistance – help explaining and answering questions, and most importantly, purpose – a project where the student can use the knowledge in practice,” explained the young innovators.

The students Kristiyan Vachev and Kaloyan Manev, are working under the supervision of dr. Preslav Nakov, Senior Scientist, Qatar Computing Research Institute, and the advisorship of Georgi Kadrev, Co-founder and CEO, Imagga.

The students are now facing the finals online. Each team will get a chance to present their idea to some of the top minds in the business. Тhe contestants will have to deliver a convincing pitch, and they will be expected to answer some hard questions. A business mentor will be assigned to each team, to help them put together a solid business plan for their idea.

“We are glad that a team from Bulgaria is among the finalists. This shows that our hard work encouraging digital education in the region is bringing results. It would be even more satisfying to see the project brought to life in reality and implemented at academic institutions. I hope this will happen soon and wish the team success at the finals,” said Albena Spasova, CEE Multi Country Industry Solution Executive Education, Microsoft.

The finalists will participate in a two-day hackathon. Once the current crisis is over and things are back to normal the event will take place in Budapest as initially planned by Microsoft.