New Homework Help App, Socratic, Launches

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Makes Learning on the Internet Easier and More Productive

Socratic app screen shots of the homework photo submission screen and pages returned with content relevant to the question

Three years after launching Socratic.org, the online learning Q&A community whose members have answered questions to help more than 15 million students, tech entrepreneurs Chris Pedregal and Shreyans Bhansali announce the launch of the Socratic App: the fastest, easiest way for high school students to learn how to do their homework.

Snap a photo of a homework question, and Socratic teaches students how to answer it.

The app, which launched in the Apple store today and is available for iOS only, is the result of three years of work by the Socratic team in their quest to understand how students learn online and where they get stuck.

“We’ve made it our mission to make learning easier. The biggest obstacle for students searching for help online is knowing which question to ask,” says Pedregal, CEO and Socratic founder, who is in this year’s roster of Forbes “30 under 30” in Education. “A good tutor knows what students are really asking and shows them the right concepts to learn how to answer the questions. We designed Socratic to be like the best tutor. It understands the question and shows the fewest concepts required to solve their problems.”

Once a student snaps a photo of the homework question, the app offers help in a series of simple swipable pages that include the best content developed by the Socratic community, along with videos, textbook citations and Web pages from other trustworthy online sources.

The app’s artificial intelligence allows it to “know” the underlying concept needed to answer the question -- such as the relevant theory in chemistry -- even if that concept isn’t called out in the question itself. Educator input was used to train and test the AI, ensuring the accuracy of the content served up. The goal for students using the app is that they complete their homework efficiently and learn the lessons intended.

The app is the result of a year of development that involved dozens of teachers, hundreds of high-school students, and over 150,000 users of an unbranded app developed by the Socratic team, called Homework Genius. The “stealth” app allowed Socratic to collect millions of photos of real homework questions and make the AI engine that powers the official app smarter.

“Finding content that’s easy to use online is challenging because most educational content was created for use on laptops. We’ve seen students on iPhones hesitantly flip through 20 page pdfs, scan paragraphs that span multiple screens, and wait 30 seconds for pages to load. What students need to learn is intuitiveness and simplicity,” says Bhansali.

Socratic's community of educators is constantly creating new high-quality and simple educational content for the concepts the app teaches.

Socratic content is overseen by content team lead, Tyler DeWitt, whose chemistry YouTube channel has over 20 million views and who has a PhD in Microbiology from MIT and a BS in Molecular Biology from Brown.

The Socratic app is launching first for chemistry. The app will steadily expand to other sciences over the next couple of months, followed by all other high-school subjects. The app is in English now, and will roll out in other languages soon. An Android version is in the works, too.

"Just as much—if not more—learning takes place after a student leaves the classroom. We hope Socratic is students' ally to help them feel confident that they have learned what they need to," says Bhansali.

ABOUT SOCRATIC

Socratic is an education startup on a mission to make learning easier for every student. Our app and website answer student questions with simple and high-quality learning content. Socratic is powered by a blend of AI technologies combined with a large community of educators. We’ve helped more than 15 million students, and have our sights set on the next billion.

Our team of 10 has raised $7.5 million from Spark Capital, Shasta Ventures, Omidyar Network, betaworks, Box Group, a16z, John Maloney (former President of Tumblr), and Andrew Kortina (co-founder of Venmo). We live in New York. Socratic was founded by Chris Pedregal and Shreyans Bhansali.

Chris, who is our CEO, graduated from Stanford University with a BS Computer Science and an MA Journalism. He was a product manager at Google where he worked on Gmail, Google Maps and Google Now.

Shreyans is our Head of Engineering and was the first employee at Venmo. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Computer Science and Engineering and a BA in Economics.

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