AI Platform Built by Teachers, for Teachers, Class Companion Raises $4 Million to Tap Into the Power of Practice
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Company empowers teachers through modern technology at a time when they need it most
SAN FRANCISCO, October 5, 2023-- Class Companion, a new AI platform that empowers teachers to give instant, personalized feedback to students, publicly launched today with $4 million in seed funding. The round was led by Index Ventures, with participation from the OpenAI Startup Fund, and notable angels including renowned operator and advisor Gokul Rajaram, Managing Director of Otherwise Fund Terrence Rohan, and AI luminary Andrej Karpathy, founding Research Scientist at OpenAI and former Senior Director of AI at Tesla. Funds will be used to improve the teacher experience and expand the team as teachers use their expertise to shape the AI to help students learn in new and exciting ways.
"If we want to use AI to improve education, we need more teachers at the table," said Avery Pan, Class Companion co-founder and CEO. "Class Companion is designed by teachers, for teachers, to harness the most sophisticated AI and improve their classroom experience. Developing technologies specifically for teachers is imperative to supporting our next generation of students and education system."
The Power of Practice
Students learn best when they receive fast feedback and the opportunity to improve upon their mistakes. Studies show that, given a safe environment to practice and make mistakes, students are highly motivated—even tenacious—in their efforts to improve.
The bottleneck is teachers' time and energy. Feedback for written assignments is especially challenging because it is often time-consuming and tedious. Compounding this challenge, since COVID, more teachers have left the classroom. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 154,000 public education employees left in 2022, with 64% quitting voluntarily, and McKinsey found that a third of K-12 teachers are considering quitting due in part to unreasonable expectations and an inability to protect their well-being. These challenges result in increased class sizes and burden of work for teachers who remain.
Built upon teacher experience, Class Companion solves this problem. The platform uses large language models to enable teachers to give unlimited practice by providing instant, personalized feedback on written assignments. Teachers customize assignments and invite students to submit answers. In addition to detailed feedback, Class Companion offers hints and contextual knowledge, suggestions for revision, and recognition of progress. Teachers have full visibility throughout the process and can override the AI to have the final say.
Practice Makes Perfect
Thousands of teachers using Class Companion have observed faster learning, more motivated students, and deeper insight into what their students do and don't understand so that they can adjust their instruction accordingly. At the same time, students love the platform because it makes learning engaging. They no longer have to wait a week to get that assignment back, by which time they hardly remember it.
"Class Companion is a gamechanger," said Peter Paccone, a teacher at San Marino High School and advisor to Class Companion. "My students want to know how they can do better, and they keep at it. Class Companion has allowed us to cover more material in less time and deepen our discussions."
AI by Teachers, for Teachers
Class Companion started when co-founder Avery Pan explored ways to help her Deerfield High School teachers, as well as her mom and mother-in-law, former English teachers. As a writing tutor, Pan understood the demands of detailed feedback. She teamed up with co-founder Jack Forbes, former founder of a Y-Combinator-backed company and tech lead at Masterclass, whose mom works at Bainbridge High School, to start Class Companion.
When ChatGPT threw teachers into a panic about cheating, Pan and Forbes connected over their shared belief that AI could be harnessed to serve teachers and students for the better. They resolved to stand with teachers and build a resource reflecting their priorities.
Bruno Morlan, a teacher at Acalanes High School and advisor to Class Companion, reflected on his priorities that shaped the product. "Class Companion makes it clear that learning is a process, requiring various attempts and iterations. The incentive for cheating significantly diminishes when students can try multiple times or seek assistance from the AI."
With Class Companion, teachers can focus more energy on group discussion, individual instruction, lesson planning—all of which are informed by the quality and volume of feedback that the platform provides. Class Companion uniquely supports teachers by enabling them to customize their end-to-end experience, including assignments, rubrics, and insights on each student's learning.
"Class Companion has created a seamless way for teachers to leverage cutting-edge AI technology that gives them and their students a far better school experience," said Nina Achadjian, partner at Index Ventures. "Avery and the team have built trust with teachers, students, and parents, delighting them with an easy-to-use and effective platform for personalized feedback."
About Class Companion
Class Companion empowers teachers to give instant feedback and support each student to learn at their own pace. Thousands of teachers use the AI platform to create assignments, engage students, generate feedback, and gain insights into progress. The company is based in San Francisco and backed by Index Ventures, the OpenAI Startup Fund, and additional values-aligned investors.
Amber Moore, Moore Communications, 1 5039439381, email@example.com