Sia Precision Education

United Kingdom, University of Oxford
Sia Precision Education


Profile Image for Sahba Seddighi
Sahba Seddighi
United Kingdom
Profile Image for Shannon Ross
Shannon Ross
United States

Team Gallery

Report Inappropriate Content

Project Overview

In Fall 2021, Sia was started by 3 AI PhD students at the University of Oxford - James Anibal, Sahba Seddighi, and Ai Phuong Tong. The previous summer, while working as an instructor for the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, James developed a “Coding without Computers” course to teach adult students Python programming without any device requirements. He hoped to distribute this course in low-resource educational environments, and, as a result, was introduced to Shannon Ross. Shannon was incarcerated for 17 years, during which he spent 15 years trying to earn a BBA degree across 8 different universities. He currently serves as Executive Director of The Community, an organization dedicated to creating pre-entry resources and supporting incarcerated individuals upon release through housing, employment, and education. His knowledge and perspectives have ensured that Sia technology, rather than becoming an impractical novelty, grows into an essential tool for improving incarcerated student outcomes. James, Sahba, Ai Phuong, and Shannon, each with experience as instructors in low-resource settings, believed that AI-driven personalization could make meaningful educational opportunities more scalable to the incarcerated population. Their goal was to overcome the current racial inequities in prison education and remove many of the barriers facing neurodivergent students or students who struggled in past educational pursuits. After partnering with a diverse array of universities, non-profits, and potential employers, they developed Sia to empower incarcerated students aiming to change their lives through education. After working closely with formerly incarcerated mentors and advisors, the team realized that accessible micro-credentialing was central to broadening the employment opportunities available to formerly incarcerated individuals. With longitudinal clickstream and general information about the student – particularly emphasizing factors such as learning difficulties and past experiences – Sia’s topic-agnostic AI technology creates a personalized, adaptable learning plan for each user. This allows each Sia student to gain a diverse array of new skills through programs created by academic and industry partners, each with a certificate that can be shown to potential employers. Chatbots built on topic-specific natural language processing models are used to securely answer student questions, providing a solution to the high student-to-faculty ratio at incarceration facilities. Finally, to ensure that Sia is properly leveraging the support of professional educators, Sia software uses the uncertainties from the AI model to determine which students need the most support and displays this information on a faculty dashboard. To date, we are in discussions to deploy the software within two correctional departments in the United States (Wisconsin and Ohio). The team will also be meeting with representatives from correctional departments in Canada and Australia. In the coming months, we will pitch the product to various investors, tablet distributors, and potential content partners. Finally, we are partnering with two non-profit organizations, Justice Impact Alliance (JIA) and Prison to Professionals (P2P), to launch a pilot study with formerly incarcerated students. Conducting a pilot study with these organizations will give Sia a chance to support impactful non-profit work in the space, while also enhancing the AI models through expanded datasets. We are also partnering with JIA to distribute surveys to 500,000 currently incarcerated individuals. These surveys will focus on past educational experiences, past interactions with technology, and expectations for new educational software.

About Team

James Anibal, University of Oxford James Anibal is an AI PhD student at the University of Oxford working under Professor David Clifton. He is passionate about the role of AI in overcoming access barriers to fundamental human rights, such as healthcare and education. As someone who was nearly a high-school dropout, he believes that personalized support is essential to improving student outcomes, and that AI is a key tool for supplementing resources in low-resource settings. Prior to attending Oxford, James earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Case Western Reserve University with a concentration in artificial intelligence. Furthermore, he serves as a faculty member at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, where he designed the first deep learning workshops to be offered in the U.S. NIH and designed a Python programming course for adult learners, which had over 150 students. Sahba Seddighi, University of Oxford Sahba Seddighi is a PhD student in the Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford. She grew up in Shiraz, Iran and graduated as a Haslam Scholar from the University of Tennessee (UT) in 2016, with a B.S. in Neuroscience. Post graduation, she received a research training award from the NIH National Institute of Aging and then became the first student from UT to win a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She earned an MPhil in Epidemiology from the University of Cambridge, focusing on biostatistics and data appraisal. Alongside her research, she has also taken a lead role to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in higher education. Ai Phuong Tong, University of Oxford Ai Phuong Tong is a PhD student at the University of Oxford working with Professor Mark Woolrich. She is passionate about using technology to make education and healthcare more accessible to underserved populations. Through her medical training at the University of Washington School of Medicine, she aims to improve healthcare for low-resource communities. She earned a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University in 2016. Using her decade of experience in coding, she aims to oversee the research and development of the platform to carry out Sia’s mission to improve student outcomes. Shannon Ross, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Shannon Ross is the Executive Director of The Community, which he founded in 2014 while he was serving a 17 year prison sentence. The Community addresses the effects of the criminal punishment system with two arms: Pre-entry and Correcting the Narrative. Pre-entry leverages The Community’s ever-growing connection with prison population via their newsletter and educational tech platform to provide incarcerated individuals with every type of resource, encouragement, and training to return to society as successfully as possible, rather than trying to get prepared after release. Their Correcting the Narrative campaign showcases the successes, humanity, and agency of people with criminal records. Since his release September 2020, Shannon is also a graduate student at UW-Milwaukee, co-owner of a reentry consulting firm, and a grateful new father.

Technologies we are looking to use in our projects

Artificial Neural Networks
Machine Learning
Virtual Machines

Social Media

No social media pages available