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BeSocratic: Innovative Chemistry Software

Chemistry is important to our quality of life today, and beSocratic, an intelligent tutoring system, aims to help both teachers and students of chemistry with the learning process. BeSocratic was developed by Dr. Melanie Cooper of Michigan State University, Dr. Mike Klymkowsky of University of Colorado Boulder, and Dr. Sam Bryfczynski and Josiah Hester of Clemson University with the intention of improving on previous intelligent tutoring systems.

In a typical intelligent tutoring system, students are given a set of instructions and offered simple input methods such as fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions, which do not allow for in-depth feedback for the student, or thorough analysis for the teacher.

Unlike these systems, beSocratic allows for more complex input methods to measure student performance. Rather than responding to a set of pre-prepared answers, students can utilize tools like SocraticGraphs, OrganicPad, and GraphPad in order to draw and create their own responses. Through these tools, students input 2D graphs, Lewis structures, and interactive nodes and edges that are compared with the instructor’s guidelines in order to give in-depth feedback to students based on their individual performance.

The system also records the inputs of each student, allowing teachers to replay the development of student responses in order to discover where they went wrong. It also creates clusters of students with similar answers in order to allow the teacher to respond with feedback to each cluster as a whole.

Designed to mimic PowerPoint, beSocratic aims to be as easy to use and versatile as possible. Teachers can include images, text, videos, multiple choice questions, and text boxes in addition to those named above, all of which can be saved to the beSocratic database to be accessed from any computer. Through this revolutionary system, students and teachers at Michigan State University, among others, are gaining a more meaningful and thorough educational experience.