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Exeter-based edtech startup Sparx raises €22 million for its maths platform

#artificialintelligence

Exeter-based edtech startup Sparx is receiving an injection of €22 million from Oxygen House, an ethical and impact-centric group of companies. Founded in 2010, Sparx is an in-class and homework solution that uses machine learning, personalised content, and data analytics to help teachers be more effective and improve learning outcomes for students in maths. Its first product'Sparx Maths', which focuses on 11 to 16-year-old students, was launched in September 2018 and combines high-quality content, including 32,000 carefully designed maths questions and an adaptive AI technology platform. Its platform provides daily insights into class and student progress, allowing teachers to quickly identify trends. The initial investment from Oxygen House has helped Sparx to work closely with schools to research, test, and develop an approach to learning maths which is highly engaging.


AI in education: A toxic mix of buzzwords and unqualified expertise?

#artificialintelligence

The UK government has developed a voracious appetite for artificial intelligence (AI), based on a promise of its apparently transformative power across myriad industries. From prime minister Boris Johnson's pledge to fund a £250m AI lab for the NHS, to the Department for Education's recently launched'AI horizon scanning group', AI is being lauded as a panacea to some of the most pressing issues society faces. Education is just one of the sectors that is meeting AI with open arms. As Matthew Jones at Perlego argued for this title, the opportunities being presented for AI to close educational accessibility gaps is exciting. In fact, educators, policymakers and investors are all being bombarded with messages related to AI's seemingly endless benefits in the classroom.


Role-playing video game seen helping ease depression for counselor-shy Japanese

The Japan Times

It's a role-playing video game that, like many of its kind, allows users to choose and customize their own avatar, including a hairstyle and clothing. Set in a medieval fantasy world, users build up their power as their character travels across "provinces," overcoming obstacles and challenges along the way. What's unique about SPARX -- which stands for smart, positive, active, realistic, X-factor thoughts -- is that it's designed specifically for people with mild to moderate depression. SPARX was developed in the late 2000s by researchers and clinicians at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who became alarmed by the high suicide rate among teenagers in the country. They decided to develop a way to reach out to young people who shy away from seeking face-to-face counseling.