5 Questions with Dr. Khurram Jamil

Khurram Jamil, M.D

President of Strategic Initiatives of Area9 Lyceum & Co-Managing Director Thieme | Area9 LLC

Bio: Dr. Khurram Jamil is President of Strategic Initiatives where he focuses on regional expansions, joint-ventures and partnerships, as well as oversees projects for all levels of education and training. Dr. Jamil is also the co-managing director of the newly formed joint venture between Area9 and Thieme, an award-winning international medical and science publisher serving health professionals and students for more than 125 years.

Dr. Jamil’s entrepreneurial experience extends over 20 years. He has successfully led dozens of teams comprising of medical professionals and educational scientists, spearheaded large development and partnership efforts, and managed multi-million-dollar educational software development projects.

After earning his medical degree in Denmark in 2002, Dr. Jamil chose to advance health care outside the clinical arena through the development of novel educational simulators.

He co-founded Area9 in 2006 to evolve and expand these concepts beyond health care, while partnering with McGraw-Hill Education to deploy adaptive learning technology. Since then, more than 25 million students have used LearnSmart & SmartBook (property of McGraw-Hill Education – acquired in 2014).

January 6, 2020 |

What is adaptive learning?

Adaptive learning is a computer-based teaching system that adapts in real-time to the needs of each learner. The system typically uses formative assessment, which is a question-based teaching technique, to assess the current cognitive state of the learner. The Qbank constantly adjusts and readjusts the lesson content and teaching approach. Creating your own adaptive modules and receiving results in real time also help to deliver an optimal experience and support a student’s unique learning path.


How is adaptive learning different from traditional e-learning?

Our adaptive algorithms are based on breakthroughs in biological models and they learn with the learner and recreates the individual attention of a one-on-one tutor. This provides you with a personalized learning experience. The system uses proven data-analytics and intelligent technologies to deliver an optimal experience.

The biological adaptive model differs significantly from the “inference models” as until recently the inference construct has been the primary model for advanced variants of e-learning, but with less than satisfactory results. Inference models take an “engineering” approach. They assume it’s possible to build an interconnected network of learning items based on a series of events, essentially drawing “arrows” between them. When something goes wrong, i.e. a student makes a mistake, the system backtracks through the “arrows” to find the last place when the student could comprehend it. This breaks the learning and students get frustrated as well as the content creation process for such models don’t scale. Learning is much more chaotic, therefore based on our 20 year expertise and brain research we abandoned this and built a proprietary biological model that works based on how variability is in nature and how e.g. virus change based on constant adjustments & adaptation.


Why is the adaptive learning Qbank especially useful for students?

Thieme | Area9 USMLE Step 1 begins with a pretest consisting of a number of questions which assesses the students’ knowledge of different topics. Results show which topics a student is proficient in and which they need to focus on more. Students can set up their practice sets in areas of need and the adaptive learning Qbank shows relevant content when you need it. The technology takes into consideration what the student already knows or thinks they know by asking to self-assess how sure they are of an answer. This continually develops self-assessment skills, also called “meta-cognitive shaping”. Adaptive learning also follows up on what the student is having trouble with instead of starting from the beginning each time. The AI-powered algorithm personalizes your exam preparation and helps students spend less time studying by concentrating on areas of need and reduces time spent reviewing what you already know.


How did the joint venture with Area9 and Thieme come about?

The joint venture of Thieme | Area9 came together to provide adaptive learning solutions to medical students. Combining Thieme’s high quality content and Area9’s innovative learning technology, Thieme | Area9 has created a product that will provide the international medical field with the first of it’s kind biological AI powered adaptive learning Qbank designed to help students prepare for the first part of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE® Step 1).


What do you think are the big trends in medical education?

We see that machine learning, AI, and other technical advancements take research into new direction and help produce next generation drugs and therapies. This development is accompanied by the need for training and education at every stage of professional life. No matter how well-trained or experienced, medical students and professionals are, they must upgrade their knowledge and skill set to remain relevant and competent to address the complexities of modern health care. That’s why we see adaptive learning not as a trend, but the solution to greater and faster knowledge acquisition, uncovering knowledge gaps, reducing unconscious incompetence and promote lifelong learning due to the inherent personal tutor like experience that is offered.

One area in medical education we believe holds great promise is expansion of simulation training. We see the opportunity to more closely and robustly integrate adaptive learning with simulators to achieve a multifaceted learning experience. The adaptive learning platform would identify knowledge and skill gaps among medical students and practicing physicians, who can then further develop their skills and expertise via simulators in physical locations, as well as by using computer-based simulations with intelligent debriefing that can be used anytime, anywhere in a cost-efficient manner, thus democratizing access to high-quality education globally.

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