the metacog story
Metacog is an AI-powered performance analytics solution. It can help you improve and accelerate training outcomes for individuals, teams and programs.
It’s not enough to know whether someone chose the correct answer on a test if you’re hoping to get them ready for performance in the real world. Especially when the stakes are high. But what if you could capture all the little behaviors and choices that go into developing real-world mastery? What if you could use AI to analyze that process data, so that you not only had scores, but insight into which thought processes and behaviors were most aligned with successful real-world performance? And what if all those powerful analytics weren’t just in some black box, but were actually guided by those who know best what good performance looks like for your people, your mission? You would have an amazing human-machine performance analytics platform. We call it Metacog.
Metacog was founded in 2014 by Owen Lawlor, Doug Stein, and Victoria Porras. It was created to solve a problem in the education space: Can we score authentic performance-based tasks at the speed and cost of traditional multiple-choice items—with validity and reliability—and can we use AI to mimic the insightful real-time observations of an expert human evaluator?
We instrumented a handful of open-source sims to show educators what Metacog could do. One of those was a PhET Concentration chemistry sim, and when PhET saw the results, they asked to use Metacog for their own research into sim design. This led to a relationship with Educational Testing Service (ETS). They were researching a performance-based design for the science portion of NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Performance). The ETS project had built a 3D immersive virtual chemistry lab where the student would perform experiments. Metacog allowed ETS to gather and analyze detailed student performance in that lab.
Another early customer was Benesse, one of Japan's premier publishers, charged by their Ministry of Education with leaping from the current paper-based, open-ended, hand-scored exams to online open-ended AI-scored exams. For Benesse, we showed that Metacog could take a generic drag-and-drop math quiz and make it polytomous (to report shades of correctness) and generate data on the student's approach—which could then be used to better evaluate ability.
In 2018, Metacog was awarded the Game-Changing Technology Innovation Award by the Association of Test Publishers (ATP), the world’s leading assessment industry association. The award was given at ATP’s Innovation Lab Competition based on Metacog's ability to enable measurement of human cognitive abilities in real time.
Metacog was also recognized by Disruptor Daily as one of the 10 companies to watch for AI in education (2018) and by the Tech Tribune as one of the best start-ups in Worcester (2019).
Metacog was acquired by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) in 2019. A global leader in high-stakes training and performance testing for the tech industry, CompTIA has awarded more than 2.7 million certifications in areas such as cybersecurity, networking, cloud computing and technical support.
Seven CompTIA certifications are included in the Department of Defense Directive 8570.01-M, part of the DoD program to identify, tag, track and manage the department’s cybersecurity workforce.
The Metacog acquisition supports a key element of CompTIA’s long-term certification mission: to develop assessments that can tell the difference between trainees who have mastered the “book learning” needed to pass a test and those truly ready to perform in a real-world environment. Metacog’s capabilities in training-process data capture, AI-enhanced scoring, and models that can detect the thought processes and behaviors behind a trainee’s performance, will help CompTIA meet that mission.
The mission ahead
The CompTIA acquisition set the stage for a broader Metacog vision: Improving outcomes and accelerating readiness in high-stakes training situations. Our AI-enabled performance analytics engine adds great value to traditional learning software, but it can do much more. It can be used to close gaps between high-fidelity simulation training and real-world performance. Our expanded team made up of Metacog founders, engineers, advisors and CompTIA functional experts is bringing the new vision to life.
Whether you’re training pilots, air traffic controllers, submarine operators or battlefield medics, if you are responsible for making sure that your people have mastered the skills they need to perform well when lives are on the line, we can help.
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