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Utah County startup Fetchy seeks to assist educators using artificial intelligence

By Harrison Epstein - | Jul 24, 2023
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John Christensen and Paige Drumm, co-founders of Fetchy.
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A screenshot of the Fetchy homepage.

The most valuable resource in any classroom is time.

No matter what techniques or methods a teacher may use, they have a limited amount of time to teach material and help a student learn. Beyond that, they have only so much time in a day or week to do the out-of-class work required of teachers — preparing lessons, student and parent outreach, and more.

“Teachers work from 8 to 4 or 7 to 3, or whatever it is, their contract hours. They have very, very few breaks,” said Paige Drumm, co-founder of Fetchy. “This is a chance for them to maximize the time they have. So they can do what they need to do to really be present with a student.”

After a decade teaching in the Provo City School District, Drumm and her brother John Christensen, a technology product designer, sought to create a way to help teachers make better use of their time. After another three years in development, the two created Fetchy, an artificial intelligence startup designed for educators.

“Our passion is to just empower those educators and give them the tools and resources they need to do their job their way and be creative,” Drumm said.

The idea — making life easier for educators — became a reality, Drumm said, as AI became more commonplace. The service launched Monday with a series of tools designed for classroom preparation.

Drumm’s favorites, she said, include writing emails and creating lesson plans. The service doesn’t create the plan from scratch, though; users input their requirements and information, allowing the AI to format everything. According to Christensen, the company’s AI system was designed for use in education.

“We have an extensive array of machine-learning models working in the background, continuously learning, evolving and adapting to the needs of our users. This ensures that we deliver a high concentration of reliable and usable content,” he said.

The use of artificial intelligence moved to the forefront of general society in recent months as services — like OpenAI and ChatGPT — became household names for positive and negative reasons. The companies have shown the beneficial applications of AI and its abilities in fields like business, science and writing.

In a June panel on AI at Utah Valley University, Dave Wright, CEO of Pattern, said of the technology, “I think in a couple of generations, we might start broaching on more of an immortal human.”

The risks associated with AI, and negative stories, are just as plentiful. Two lawyers in New York who used ChatGPT to write a legal brief were sanctioned after the AI-written brief contained fictional cases, and educational institutions across the country are dealing with AI-written essays by, occasionally, using AI plagiarism trackers to evaluate the writing.

Seven of the country’s leading AI companies on Friday agreed to new standards for safety, security and trust with the federal government. These guidelines include additional product testing for safety and the use of watermarks so consumers can tell if a product was created by an AI system.

Well aware of the current limitations and connotations of artificial intelligence, Christensen said Fetchy uses “advanced algorithms and cross-checks within Fetchy’s programming to strive for accuracy.”

Users, though, should still rely on their own judgment, knowledge and research.

“Fetchy is an aid to help educators, not a replacement for their skills and knowledge,” he said.

Drumm added that the company uses “a number of different protocols” and safeguards to ensure accuracy of information.

Subscriptions to Fetchy are $10 each month, though the company is offering a promotion for anyone who signs up in the first week, until Friday. The program is currently designed for individual users, including teachers or home-schooling parents, though Drumm said they may consider working with school districts in the future.

During the spring, the company ran a beta test that Drumm said yielded positive results for what the company was doing well and where they could improve. Frequently, she said with a laugh, users asked to be released from nondisclosure agreements so they could tell their colleagues about the service.

“That right there told me yes, this is exactly what I thought it would be and we are actually going to help them,” Drumm said.


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