Revolution eLearning and the Bored Classroom

revolution elearning ces 2015 featured
Written by Mat Lee

Revolution eLearning has developed technology that reads when you are bored in class. Mat Lee caught up with them at CES 2015.

aNewDomain — At CES 2015 I had a chance to speak to Moses Ma about Revolution eLearning. This technology watches the faces of students while they are taking their MOOC or webinar and detects their level of interest as the class goes on. If there is a loss of interest — bored, let’s say — the technology takes that information, real-time, and sends it to the professor. The hope is to make online classes much more interactive and personal.

revolution elearning ces 2015


The Revolution eLearning website describes themselves as a,

Next-generation e-learning technology platform that combines innovative machine vision functionalities with powerful learning analytics, and compelling social networking capabilities for use in e-learning frameworks employed in MOOCs, online webinars and multi-modal learning environments.”

So what does that all mean? Basically, the Revolution eLearning theory behind it all is this: Online learning is really boring. Like watching paint dry or grass grow boring. If you can gamify your curriculum, the students will pay more attention and everyone will, in turn, become smarter.

Video: CES 2015: Revolution eLearning
On the technology side I spoke with Dr. Aiyesha Ma, Revolution eLearning’s chief scientist. She says that by using the student’s webcam and machine vision, the software can tell if a student is paying attention or not. Combine that with a ton of annotation data from previous students, and you start to have a really good idea of how well a particular set of curriculum is working out.

The real key here is to have a system that takes this massive amount of data, and gives it to the teacher in real time, in a manageable way so it can be acted upon. It looks like Revolution eLearning is definitely on the right track.

revolution elearning screenshot

Revolution eLearning has had a lot of interest from larger companies who want to utilize this technology in their internal corporate training systems. Imagine you just got your first job, and the training process consisted of you sitting in front of a TV and watching a small training video. Now imagine that the TV had a camera built into it that was watching to see how bored you got. I bet if those companies took all that data, which was otherwise lost to the ether, and had a system like this to help fine tune the training video, we would have the best employees and training methods possible. I’m picturing something with exploding cats and oatmeal.

If you’ve attended an online class or webinar you may have been either distracting yourself with Doodle Jump or letting your head rest on the desk. Revolution eLearning’s goal is to keep your attention and prevent people from falling asleep during these lectures and classes.

The company received a grant from the National Science Foundation. Revolution eLearning says that by embedding advanced machine vision into webcams to monitor how bored a person is reading by their facial expressions, you can enable a rate of teaching that increases comprehension. If technology can help you increase your comprehension, that’s a great goal especially in today’s fast paced modern world.

Remember, every time you build a school you close a prison.

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All Images and Screenshots: Mat Lee