This interview is part of our new AI in Education series, where we interview the world's top thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between AI and education.
In this interview, we speak with Josh Kamrath, CEO of Bongo, to understand how his company is using AI to transform education, and what the future of the education industry holds.
1. What's the story behind Bongo? Why and how did you begin?
JK: Our founder created Bongo—then called YouSeeU—in 2009 to solve a problem he faced as a business communication professor. At the time, students recorded their presentations on DVDs, submitted them individually, and then received handwritten feedback. This process wasn’t very efficient, so our founder started searching for a way to record student presentations and provide feedback all in one place. There wasn’t a solution like Bongo available at that time, so, with the help of a development team, he created one himself.
The company has evolved into much more than a way to facilitate student presentations since that time, but Bongo’s AI functionality has its roots within this use case as well. For some context, Bongo is a video assessment solution that enables experiential learning and soft skill development at scale. Educational institutions use our video workflows to give students repeated skill practice, provide personalized feedback, and facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration within a real-world context.
2. Please describe your use case and how Bongo uses artificial intelligence:
JK: Instructors who teach communication-heavy disciplines spend a lot of their time listening to and giving feedback on speeches, business pitches, role-play scenarios, and other presentations. Bongo’s AI aids in this process by giving students and instructors more insight into a learner’s performance. Our tool transcribes the video presentations students submit and analyzes them for rate of speech, speech clarity, and the use of filler words. It compiles this data into an easy-to-read report, which learners use for reflection before they decide to submit or re-record, and that instructors use as a reference in the assessment process.
While these reports include scores, they aren’t necessarily meant to replace the human side of evaluation. For instance, instructors still have to assess an individual’s presentation for the validity of its content. However, Bongo is currently testing other AI tool features, such as Word Cloud (what key topics did the speaker cover), sentiment (tone analysis), virtual audience (avatars to reflect a live audience), and more dynamic measurements of eye contact.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has Bongo done for them?
JK: Students at a prominent Colorado university who used Bongo’s AI tool practiced their presentations 300 percent more than the students who did not receive the automated video analysis. This positively affected their performance in several ways, which a future published study will reveal.