How Microsoft's AI teaching assistant helps generate classroom materials

With the help of Shiksha copilot, a teacher in Bengaluru, India, reports reducing her lesson-planning time from hours to minutes.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Classroom and technology illustration
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To maintain a classroom properly running, teachers are responsible for many behind-the-scenes tasks in addition to the actual in-classroom time spent with their students. As a result, teachers could benefit greatly from some assistance, and Microsoft Research's new AI project aims to provide just that. 

Shiksha copilot is an AI-powered digital assistant that helps teachers with their needs by leveraging generative AI. 

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For example, the copilot will help teachers with behind-the-classroom prep, such as developing personalized learning experiences, designing assignments, creating hands-on activities, lesson planning, and more.  


One teacher in Bengaluru found that by leveraging Shiksha copilot, she could reduce her lesson planning time from 60 to 90 minutes a day to 60 to 90 seconds. 


The research project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Microsoft Research India --as part of their Project VeLLM (aka, "Universal Empowerment with Large Language Models") -- and teams across Microsoft. 

The Sikshana Foundation, a local organization focused on improving public education, is also involved, helping pilot the program at more than 10 public schools in and around Bengaluru, India. The goal of the pilot program is to collect feedback from teachers that will be used to refine and further build out the tool. 

So far, the results of the pilot seem promising. 

Lesson planning is a vital part of a teacher's role because it helps them prepare the materials needed to properly execute the next day's lessons, including setting clear objectives and planning specific learning activities. 

This task can be time-consuming because teachers often have to parse through many different materials to put together a well-thought-out lesson plan. Shiksha copilot can help make that task significantly easier. 

One teacher in Bengaluru, Parimala H V, found that by leveraging Shiksha copilot, she could reduce her lesson planning time from 60 to 90 minutes a day to 60 to 90 seconds. 

The demo of the copilot [see video below] shows how simple it is to create classroom materials. After the teacher selects several options --  such as grade, language, curriculum, subject, and topics -- Shiksha automatically generates the relevant content, including PowerPoints, take-home assignments, lesson plans, and more. 

Another teacher, Gireesh K S, found that Shiksha copilot can identify activities that help him better engage with his students, which can be especially challenging in a class of 40-plus students. 

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The AI tool supports connectivity to both public and private resource content, enabling the teachers to access an array of different resources they need to build their classroom content. 

"Shiksha copilot is very easy to use when compared to other AI we have tried because it is mapped with our own syllabus and our own curriculum, " said Gireesh. 

Shiksha is available via different modalities, including WhatsApp, Telegram, and web applications to make it easily accessible for teachers. 

Microsoft plans on expanding the pilot to more schools across the state of Karnataka and beyond.  

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