Amplio: Creating an educator-centric, data-driven educational ecosystem
Dr. Yair Shapira has two decades of experience as an executive in successful start-ups and high-tech firms. A passionate entrepreneur, Yair founded Amplio, a special education learning platform, designed to deliver effective instruction that helps prepare students for success. He is on a mission to help millions of children with special needs. His previous roles include executive positions in sales, marketing, business development and R&D. Dr. Shapira holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. In an interview, he speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts from the interview:
Conception of Amplio
As the parent of a son with a stutter, Dr. Shapira saw first-hand that many children with special needs make slow progress. Students with speech-language impairments, for example, often take 3.4 years before they are dismissed from therapy. “Holding a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, I knew there had to be a way to help students accelerate their progress. Mastering skills requires constant practice with precise feedback, evidence-based individualized learning paths, fidelity of delivery and, first and foremost, empowered educators. Amplio was created to help students like my son reach their full potential using the power of technology. Our platform is designed to accelerate progress by a factor of ten, empower educators, and increase teaching capacity.”
Amplio’s strategy to excel in EdTech
Staying on top requires a clear and uncompromised focus on student outcomes, observes Dr. Shapira. Though school systems might seem to be focused on compliance only, the reality is different – special educators and special education leaders chose their careers because they want to help children with special learning needs. Thus, a laser-sharp focus on impact aligns with all stakeholders. This was true prior to the pandemic and has been strongly amplified during the pandemic. Whereas the past two years have been challenging for all students, they’ve been especially devastating for special education students.
AI, NLP to the rescue
The Amplio Learning Platform gives students the opportunity to increase practice intensity and accuracy and equips educators with methods to improve data-driven decision-making while saving time and expanding teaching capacity. Using AI-powered adaptive learning technology, Amplio automates data collection and analysis, and provides immediate feedback to create a path for accelerated learning progress. Dr. Shapira adds that Artificial Intelligence (AI) excels when it is used correctly. One great example is the automatic analysis of speech and oral reading, using automatic transcription, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Machine Learning (ML). With these, every sound, syllable, word, sentence, and even conversation can be analyzed in real-time. This real-time analysis can be utilized to provide immediate reinforcement to the student, as well as used in dashboards to help educators make data-driven decisions, equivalent to lab-test results for a physician. AI can also be used to create a ‘universal intuition.’ Big data technology can analyze tens of thousands of children and find patterns in their progress because of various intervention parameters, such as frequency and dosage, to obtain recommendations for special educators, who in turn make their own educational and clinical decisions.
Building a student-centric system
“We want to help every child with a special need achieve success, both inside and outside the classroom. That includes all of the students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or about 7.1 million students in the US, as well as students served under Section 504 of the US Rehabilitation Act, and those served through Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) or Response to Intervention (RTI).” Dr. Shapira says that the company has identified the critical factors that can help these students accelerate their progress – practice intensity, effective feedback, evidence-based curricula, and programs delivered with high fidelity, among others – and integrated these components into our learning platform.
“I believe in velocity. Millions of children, just like my son, need a solution, and we have one. Tens of thousands of students are served using Amplio today, and that’s only a small fraction. I, therefore, believe in finding a way through or around what others might see as impossible challenges.” Tenacious, tireless, laser-focused, and passionate.
Words of Advice
EdTech is at or close to a tipping point. “The technology has advanced over the past few years and is now available. Students, educators, and school systems are ready to embrace it. Education is ripe for an impactful evolution, one that moves beyond remote learning.” says Dr. Shapira. “Time will tell which approaches and products will prevail. Personally, I believe that the solutions focusing on students’ success will triumph.”