AI startup Prof Jim auto-converts textbooks into cinematic lessons

Students can learn from avatars like Jane Austen, Aristotle, or their own teacher with dynamic visuals created by generative AI

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov. 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Prof Jim is launching out of stealth with one of the first practical applications of generative AI in education. This technology transforms textbooks into visually dynamic online courses—including automatically generated assessments and avatar instructors. In turn, Prof Jim is bringing one of the most highly anticipated technology advancements to educators around the world.

A whopping 85 percent of Gen-Z students watch short form online videos like YouTube at least once a week to learn a new skill. Recognizing a fundamental shift in how students prefer to consume content, Prof Jim brings text to life with avatar instructors that guide students through learning material with visually engaging slides and imagery created using generative AI. For instance, Pythagoras can explain his famous mathematical Theorem on the shores of Ancient Greece or an instructor can create an avatar that looks just like themselves.

“A lot of new technology has emerged in the last few years, like generative AI, that we believe can fundamentally change how teachers teach and how students consume learning material,” said Dr. Deepak Sekar, CEO and co-founder of Prof Jim. “We are excited to find ways Prof Jim can improve retention, lower the cost of producing engaging content for learners, and make high quality education much more affordable and accessible to all.”

Prof Jim is now working with textbook publishers and education providers to convert textbooks and any text-based learning material into highly engaging virtual lessons. Once Prof Jim’s technology creates an initial version of a lesson, educators can make revisions and create novel scenarios.

“Producing a high-quality course can cost as much as $25,000 to $150,000 and can take professors weeks in front of a camera,” explains Katelyn Donnelly, Managing Partner at Avalanche VC, who formerly founded and led Pearson Ventures. “With Prof Jim, the cost and time investment can be reduced by an order of magnitude—and look very professional, if not more so.”

Prof Jim beta tested its patented AI technology by developing several computer science courses for students at Paragon Prep, a middle school in Austin, Texas.

“We received excellent feedback from the students—with a rating of 4.7 stars out of five,” said David McGrath, Headmaster and founder of Paragon Prep. “Prof Jim’s AI-enabled product transforms the traditional textbook into a rich multimedia experience that engages students.”

For educators across K-12 and higher education, Prof Jim can be used to enhance the learning materials they provide students and allow them to focus face-to-face instructional time on the concepts that matter most. Surveyed teachers have shared that this will be especially useful for neurodiverse students, including those with dyslexia or ADHD.

Sekar, an inventor and entrepreneur with over 200 patents, was inspired to start Prof Jim by witnessing how his kids’ teachers were hindered by online tools during the pandemic. Once he sold his first company, Chowbotics, to Doordash in early 2021, he collaborated with his co-founders Pranav Mehta and Maria Walley to create AI technology that would make educators’ lives easier. Together, they co-founded Prof Jim and built a team of engineers, creatives, and teachers. Prof Jim is named in honor of Sekar’s doctoral advisor, Professor Jim Meindl, a former Stanford University and Georgia Tech professor, who passed away in 2020. Two-time Oscar-winning animator and Stanford University professor Ron Fedkiw advises their animation.

Prof Jim has raised over $1.5 million from Hannah Grey, Avalanche VC, Behind Genius Ventures, and several angels.

About Prof Jim

Prof Jim uses AI to transform textbooks into visual experiences. They empower publishers, educators, and creators with easy-to-use technology that scans words and automatically turns them into cinematic lessons and adaptive assessments. Publishers and educators can easily customize these lessons, select an avatar—either themselves or a historical figure like Darwin or George Washington Carver—and choose immersive environments to bring their lessons to life.

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Charlotte Ward

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