Honestly, I think the use I outlined earlier would be very valuable to students.
I’ve done more than a fair bit of mathematics tutoring in my lifetime. And what I see time and time again is that when students hit a wall it’s not because the material they are currently working on is “too hard,” but rather that knowledge gaps have accumulated to the point they just can’t go further.
When talking to students I usually use the analogy that learning mathematics is like building a tower—if there are too many pieces missing below where they are currently at, everything gets wobbly the higher they try to build.
By the time they are struggling enough to seek out tutoring, they’re under a time crunch—they need to know how to do this, that, and the other thing by Friday because they’ve got a test.
So, instead of going back and fixing the structure—filling in their knowledge gaps—they just want to shore things up and push back the collapse. So we need to work harder than we should have to to get them ready to barely pass the exam.
Basically we just put some scaffolding up to help them build their tower a little higher. But, that only works so well and for so long before even that hits a limit and they can go no higher. It’s also a lot more work for the amount of benefit the student gets.
That’s why I think the absolutely best app you could design—if you are really, truly interested in helping students achieve to their potential—would be one which gives them a comprehensive exam of questions which require different knowledge domains. Ideal it would be an adaptive exam, so as they take progress through the exam they get more and more questions in subdomains in which they have demonstrated some difficulty.
Then, armed with a hierarchical tree of concepts, the app would trace from where the student is supposed to currently be, back to the last concept for which they demonstrated mastery.
Once there, the app could start teaching new concepts being careful to anchor them with knowledge the student has mastered. Introducing only one concept at a time and relating it to mastered concepts.
Through interacting with the student with natural language the model could hone in on the individual students best learning styles and tailor its lessons accordingly.
Then, I imagine the model could also anticipate questions the student might have (much like Bing chat is doing now) and offer them alongside the lessons to encourage interaction and discovery on the student’s part.
This whole process is very hard and time consuming for a tutor to guide the student through. But, it’s also incredibly effective and thus valuable to students (and more realistically, their parents) once you get them to buy into the idea of correcting the root issues.
I used to charge upwards of $80/hour for this type of personalized tutoring which generally included two hours of prep each hour of instruction with modest discounts for multiple guaranteed weekly sessions. So, for instance, for three forty-minute sessions in a week I would charge $400.
A properly designed and implement GPT-based app could basically trivialize this at scale and democratize this kind of individualized educational assistance.
If you could absolutely nail it, I’m sure you’d have tens of thousands of parents ready to plop down $50+/month for something like this.