Hong Kong Economic Times:【Innovative and Technology】 AI trainer improves students’ presentation skills, observes details and scores, and provides immediate suggestions


By Hong Kong Economic Times on July 21, 2022

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Opportunities are reserved for those who are prepared, but how do people prepare for opportunities? Several girls from Concordia Lutheran School looked at the camera with firm and confident eyes, and showed their best performance, presenting their ideas to the “tutors” on the screen over and over again. Hours later, the two “tutors” were still tirelessly nodding their heads, from pronunciation to grammar, from grammar to word usage, tirelessly giving grades and suggestions to the same student.

It turns out that the “tutor” on the screen is not a real person, but a virtual audience simulated by artificial intelligence (AI) launched by Datality Lab Limited. It uses more than 100 observation points of facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, fluency and other categories to give suggestions.

Mr. Peter Chung, the teacher from Concordia Lutheran School, pointed out that what students lack is actually the opportunity to practice. “Communication is a key skill in the 21st century, but only less than 5% of students have the opportunity to receive speech training, and a teacher often has to teach dozens of students. Students, it is difficult to do one-on-one.”

The AI “tutor” solves this problem and provides one-on-one tutoring to more than 100 students in the school. Mr. Chung pointed out that the school’s language teachers have responded positively to the system and are considering incorporating it into the auxiliary training for public examinations. Currently, more than 100 students in S1-S4 have begun to try the system.

Grace, a form 5 student who was trying out the system, was talking in front of the camera, and she was relaxed and generous under the spotlight. But surprisingly, she described herself previously as “suffocating” and “cautious”, and in some important competitions, she was even more nervous and stiff.

Jennifer, who is also a form 5 student, is a student ambassador. As a bridge between the school and parents, she has many experiences on big occasions. She is also confident and articulate in front of the camera. But when there is unexpected accident, Jennifer was at a loss. She recalled that when she led more than 10 parents and primary school students to visit the school, the classroom they were supposed to visit was locked, so dozens of people were stranded outside the classroom. She felt a moment of timidity and panic, “I really feel embarrassed.”

The two tried for just over a month. Grace said that by using the system to practice, the audience is actually herself, which will make her more focused and express herself more boldly. And Jennifer has gradually become accustomed to facing virtual audiences with different expressions from training. Even in an environment where she is not trusted, “I will be calm, ” she said.

Due to the lack of adequate guidance during the epidemic, Gloria, a form 3 student, often has to practice oral exams in front of the mirror alone. Under the introduction of Mr. Chung, she tried to use, “Teachers generally pay more attention to the content expressed by students when making comments, but the system will help me pay attention to the areas that are easily overlooked, such as voice, body language, facial expressions, etc. I can focus on the content of the speech and get feedback within 10 minutes.”

Jennifer also admitted that the oral class is conducted online. When the teacher does not pay attention to her group, the students are not very willing to discuss, and there are often “dead air” situations. But when she used the system for training alone, instead of facing the embarrassment or nervousness of others, she was more willing to speak.