Dee Kanejiya is founder and CEO of Cognii, a platform that provides artificial intelligence technology for classrooms. Its virtual learning assistant provides automatic assessment of students' open-response answers along with personalized tutoring. Kanejiya has 16 years of experience in AI, speech recognition, consumer web, and the education industry. He is passionate about improving the quality and affordability of education with the help of advanced technologies.

How did your education and professional experience shape your work now at Cognii?

Education has played a very important role in my entrepreneurial journey. I grew up in a modest family in a small town in India. It was the natural gift of my interest in math problem-solving that I attribute a lot of my successes to, including my specialization in engineering and technology. During my doctoral research, I was fascinated with the prospects of AI. I focused on developing computational algorithms for natural language processing for automatic speech recognition and educational assessment. My professional experience focused on creating practical applications of speech technology in consumer electronics and web products. This includes virtual assistant technology on smartphones that helps consumers interact with their devices via voice commands. My academic and industrial experiences helped me envision the future of education powered by the most advanced technologies, which I am fortunate to be able to pursue at Cognii.

How do you hope your work at Cognii will change the learning landscape?

Interactivity is at the core of education. Teachers who engage students with greater levels of classroom interactivity have achieved better results. Students retain knowledge better when they construct answers and receive immediate feedback. Cognii facilitates this learning interaction with the help of AI. Cognii Virtual Learning Assistant engages a student in a natural language tutoring conversation, assesses their open-response answers, and provides instant feedback and guidance on how to reach conceptual mastery. It saves a significant amount of teachers’ time on grading and provides them with rich learning analytics so they can focus on personalizing the instruction. Cognii allows schools to offer high quality education in an affordable way. As the earth continues becoming a global village, Cognii’s AI technology has the potential to transform education by making it accessible and affordable to all.

What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?

In terms of technology adoption, education has so far remained a developing nation among industries. However, it is a good thing. It can now leapfrog to advanced technologies that have been successfully incubated by other industries. In the near term, we will see continuing shifts towards digital and online learning, adaptive and personalized learning, modularization of credentials in terms of micro and nano degrees, and virtual reality based immersive learning. As technology intermediates the learning process, the need for technology enhanced assessment will rise. AI will play a very important role in the future of the economy, society, and education.

Apart from your role at Cognii, what are you currently working on and what is your next big project?

Cognii keeps me super busy! As we have just scratched the surface of the market opportunity in education, we are expecting a significant growth in the near term. We have a number of new projects in the pipeline to address the needs of our partners in K–12, higher ed, and corporate training. As a result, we are looking for talented people who are passionate about creating the future of education and advancing the technology.

Who are the most interesting people you are following on Twitter?

Thomas Arnett, Thomas Vander Ark, Laura Greenstein

Follow Cognii on Twitter: @cognii

Image: Courtesy Dee Kanejiya