CCM Software services, which is a little known Irish Tech company was sold and the owner, Davd Collery could have had the life of riley with his £20m windfall.
Instead, the former Maths teacher re-entered the world of business to launch CCKF – a unique attempt at the delivery of responsive, adaptive learning.
The company has been working since 2007 on using complex algorithms [problem-solving procedures] to create personalised learning for students. “Internet algorithms have been used in finance, medicine and aviation, but not in learning,” said Collery, a Sligo native who started teaching in Dublin in the 1960s.
“Up to now, learning systems have largely been content-driven. Now there is textbook content combined with some sort of computer system.”
The next step, he believes, is content that adapts to the individual student’s requirements. The CCKF technology, called Realizeit, uses algorithms to pinpoint a student’s capabilities and skills, as well as the gaps in their knowledge.
The system gives teachers detailed information that helps them to use appropriate content for each student. Realizeit is for people of all capabilities, said Collery, and the algorithms pioneered by CCKF cover all subject areas. “We want to create a longer learning map for students, right from primary level to university level and lifelong learning.”
The Realizeit “learning engine” has the scope to create 6m questions for students. Depending on their answers, the content evolves and adapts to meet their requirements.
The technology taps into “big data”, a buzz-term used to define huge volumes of structured and unstructured data. Big data, or linked data and the semantic web, really comes into play on the Realizeit platform, said Collery.
Big data and data analytics is starting to be introduced in areas such as the medical sector, to improve patient healthcare and outcomes from illnesses. It’s also being used to map the future of smarter cities, by predicting everything from traffic flow to crime levels.
“It is an extremely labourintensive and complex business to build these sophisticated algorithms,” Collery said. “That’s why the company has been keeping under the radar for the past six years.”
CCKF has a partnership with Career Education Corporation (CEC), a US company that runs courses at 95 schools in the US, Canada, Britain and France. Students in more than 11,000 course areas have already used the CCKF technology and the results have been “very positive”, said Collery.
He added that CEC would use the Irish technology in one of the biggest roll-outs of adaptive learning in higher education to date. Through CEC, the company recently forged deals with Colorado Technical University and American InterContinental University.