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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:RIFF LEARNING INC
Doing Business As Name:RIFF LEARNING INC
PD/PI:
  • Elizabeth B Porter
  • (617) 340-9993
  • beth@rifflearning.com
Award Date:06/10/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 991,417
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 991,417
  • FY 2021=$991,417
Start Date:06/15/2021
End Date:05/31/2023
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:SBIR Phase II: Using Intervention and Feedback to Improve Group Function In Online Contexts
Federal Award ID Number:2026003
DUNS ID:081162051
Program:SBIR Phase II
Program Officer:
  • Diane Hickey
  • (703) 292-8875
  • dhickey@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:44 FENNO RD
City:NEWTON
State:MA
ZIP:02459-1408
County:Newton Center
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:04

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Riff Learning Inc
Street:44 Fenno Rd
City:Newton Center
State:MA
ZIP:02459-1408
County:Newton Center
Country:US
Cong. District:04

Abstract at Time of Award

The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to create an online, instantaneous feedback mechanism during online engagements to improve soft skills of people group settings. The explosion of online learning experiences in recent years, in which many courses fail to engage learners or help them achieve their academic and professional goals, has focused on the problem of engagement. Interest in online learning remains high, as it presents an opportunity to broaden the reach of institutions and companies, but success rates in broadly available learning experiences are low. he project applies emerging innovations in artificial intelligence to the problem of delivering high-quality learning at scale. While most applications focus on individual learners and creating new personalized educational pathways, this project highlights the importance of collective learning and the power of peer engagement to help all members of a learning community reach their goals together. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will further develop specialized video and text chat tools to collect data from groups engaged in synchronous online learning, analyze and categorize patterns of communication, and give feedback to students to help them have better, more successful experiences online. This project introduces several innovations in data capture and analytics, as well as feedback to learners while they are collaborating online. While many students use online collaboration tools such as discussion boards, chat, and video, this project focuses on providing interventions to change behavior in real-time. During conversations, such as those happening when people brainstorm to solve a problem or work on shared assignments, certain vocal patterns indicate engagement, reveal unstated agreements and discords, and expose individual biases. Using deep learning and data modeling, real-time feedback about conversational dominance is generated and shown to learners while they are speaking. The project further explores the effect of machine-generated insights about what happened during the collaboration, and makes recommendations about behavior modifications, based on predictive models. For more nuanced insights, these data are paired with facial-gestural data, such as nodding or raising one’s eyebrows. Together, these innovations combine data that has never been collected at scale before with social science data models uniquely applied to online learning. The goal of the project is to prove that insights like these have a net positive effect on learning outcomes and raise the level of satisfaction with online learning experiences that incorporate these tools. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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