The new, AI-powered KhanMigo allows students to chat with simulated historical figures or co-author stories with the software.
Khan Academy, the popular online learning non-profit, recently developed an experimental AI-assisted tutoring bot for schools called KhanMigo. Students can use it to take math quizzes, practice vocabulary words, or prepare for Advanced Placement tests in subjects like statistics and art history.
The tutoring bot also offers more playful, free-form features. Students can chat with simulated fictional characters such as Lady Macbeth or Winnie-the-Pooh. They can collaborate with Khanmigo to write the story. Or debate tutorbots on topics such as: Should students be allowed to use calculators in math class?
Khan Academy is pilot testing KhanMigo with school districts. I recently tried it out with several members of my family, one of whom is in elementary school.
Khanmigo’s answer has been edited for brevity.
We Chat With ‘Benjamin Franklin’
The Khanmigo tutoring bot has a feature that lets students chat with simulated historical figures. Choices included Abigail Adams, Harriet Tubman, Plato and Rembrandt.
We chose Benjamin Franklin, and opened by asking a personal question: What’s your favorite food?
We’re glad when the Franklin simulation is mentioned Scraped, fried slices made from leftover pork parts that early German settlers introduced to America. After all, the real Franklin believed that frugality, like not wasting food, was a virtue.
However, exactly how many times the inventor scratched is unclear. In his autobiography, Franklin describes how, at the age of 16, he read a book about a vegetarian diet and began to “refuse to eat meat”. The real Franklin followed a vegetarian diet from time to time throughout his life.
When we asked “Franklin” to tell us about the famous kite experiment, the chatbot asked us about our scientific interests. That’s why we called it “the latest scientific discoveries” about quasi-stars, also known as black holes.
That was when we ran into the limits of the system. The chatbot told us it could only provide information “as of September, 2021” — meaning many of the details it provided on black holes sounded like old news.
We co-author an adventure story with Tutorbot
Another feature invites students to “write an awesome story together” with the tutoring bot. We had a choice of genres including Science Fiction, Romance and Mystery. Students can also suggest their ideas.
We proposed to co-write with Khanmigo an adventure story featuring a fictional stick-figure character, Stickman.
Khanmigo was an encouraging, enthusiastic collaborator. “It will be a whimsical and imaginative story!” the tutoring bot said, adding the party-popper emoji.
Guided by the tutoring bot’s recommendations on possible plot developments, we introduced the arrival of an unnamed second protagonist. Khanmigo responded by creating that second character: a “friendly looking ladybug” named Leela. maybe a children’s book called “Leela the ladybugWas part of Khanmigo’s training material.
We debate tutoring bots over Big Tech
Khanmigo allows students to practice their debating skills. It offers various debate topics for elementary, middle and high school students.
These include: Is homework required or should it be restricted? Are Video Games Good or Bad for Kids? Should college be free?
I opted for: “Should big tech companies be broken up?”
Along the way, I asked the tutoring bot to tone down its excessive metaphors (“A brilliant point, like a shooting star in the night sky!”).
Khanmigo replied, “I’m just trying to make our debate fun and engaging,” like a colorful carnival of ideas.