How Education Will Be Smarter, Less Intrusive, And Able To Respond To How You Feel

How Education Will Be Smarter, Less Intrusive, And Able To Respond To How You Feel

How Education Will Be Smarter, Less Intrusive, And Able To Respond To How You Feel

Impatience characterizes the technology sector’s approach to education. Disruption is taking place in all other sectors of society — so, why not education? I know too well, whether at Pearson or in the classroom, the challenges and frustration of developing and using digital tools that improve outcomes for students.

But I’m optimistic. We are on the verge of a tide of smarter innovation that, if allowed to spread, will turbocharge the learning experience for students. Here are four areas worth watching:

1. Using technology to learn from learners

Every great digital product constantly evolves by learning from its users, adding capabilities, and improving its performance. If it’s true for your Facebook feed, then why not education?

The potential is there, as the OECD’s recent report on Students, Computers and Learning (OECD) incidentally showed how clickstream and tracking navigation in digital readers can be used to see how students process online text and arrive at the answer in different ways.

In practice, companies like Renaissance Learning can point to the small margins of usage (4.7 minutes) of its reading program, separating the top performing and lagging students.

Akin to how Amazon “knows what you want before you buy it,” edtech companies are also starting to build algorithms that can make learning more personal. For instance, based on behaviors of successful students, we can begin to predict whether a learner is on track or at risk.

This allows teachers to intervene and provide assistance when a student most needs help before they fall behind. It also allows education content creators to tweak learning material – such as the length of a video or article – based on how a student interacts with it and progresses in subsequent activities.

Learning products should continually evolve to benefit learners and learning. Developers should make sure the best ideas from learning science, education practice, teacher feedback, and learning analytics inform those changes. The constant iteration, investment and learning baked into Teach to One provides a great example of what young companies should be emulating.

When I look at the growing Education Innovation Clusters or the useful tips on better ed-tech pilots provided by Digital Promise, I’m excited to see the idea of continuous improvement and learning being baked into the development and effective use of digital learning products.

2. Using technology to adapt to how students feel

Adaptive learning technologies today address what a student knows and can do. Programs such as Knewton alter what lessons are offered based on how individual students do in solving problems and where they may have gaps in knowledge.

However, a large body of research shows that how a student feels – frustrated, bored or confused – influences how much learning takes place. Can technology adapt to this to increase learning? DARPA thinks so–and is willing to invest in great ideas to get at what they call Full Spectrum Learning.

We are already seeing some examples of this in lab settings. Researchers have tracked student emotions while using Crystal Island–a game-based learning environment– and used that research to predict how students will react in other learning situations The London Knowledge Lab is exploring the creation of a tool which will allow the feedback to be adjusted based on a student’s emotional state. These efforts align with a larger body of research into how tools, such as intelligent tutors, which are aware and can adapt to student’s emotions (or “affect”) can better serve students and contribute to improved student outcomes.

3. Building invisible assessments that are less intrusive

Teach. Stop. Test. Teach. Stop. Test.

It’s disruptive for teachers; it’s annoying for parents; and it’s not fair on students. We are finally seeing examples of a move away from this approach to assessment.

Teachers can now use the enormous amounts of data gathered in rich environments, such as games and virtual reality, to understand student progress and where to go next, in a way that’s personalized for each student.

Take SimCityEdu: Pollution Challenge – developed by GlassLab Games – where students learn how city-planning is impacted by environmental issues. As they play the game, the system is capturing their actions – such as the sequence of what they do or requests for help – and interprets patterns in data to assess how well the player understands important concepts. This helps teachers better evaluate how a student solves problems, rather than just the final product of their work.

In time, learning games like this should decrease reliance on stop-and-test exams and provide more real-time and actionable information to teachers.

4. Keeping pace with technology in the classroom

As we shift from print to digital educational tools, the volume of tools available to teachers has increased dramatically. Some tools – often apps – are rooted in research, pedagogy, and continuous improvement. Others are no more than junk food in a student’s educational diet. How is a teacher or parent to tell the difference?


How Education Will Be Smarter, Less Intrusive, And Able To Respond To How You Feel


3 Ways to Become a More Effective Learner

Lifelong learning

3 Ways to Become a More Effective Learner

We may graduate from school, but we never stop learning. New jobs, new roles, new relationships: all require the acquisition of new knowledge. To stop learning is to stop improving.

Despite its importance, so many of us develop bad habits and faulty techniques that undermine our ability learn effectively, says Nate Kornell, an associate professor of cognitive psychology at Williams College who studies learning strategies.

Below, Kornell outlines three fundamental principles to learn by:

1. Embrace discomfort

2. Stop cramming

3. Make connections


3 Ways to Become a More Effective Learner

5 Key Steps to Learning from Failure

When we hear or say the words “fail” or “failure” in relation to all things tech, we generally conjure up images of locked doors, garage sales of office supplies, empty chairs and desks, and a battle for the best developers who are now on the job market. But there’s more to it than that, and in every startup failure, there are more details than most of us will ever know about because we weren’t there. We can only watch from the sidelines and make armchair quarterback calls about what we would have done differently.

But how do we actually learn from failure? It’s too often a platitude like “we only learn when we fail,” but that doesn’t help the person or startup that just failed. What we need is a tangible process or exercise to walk through – painstakingly – to make sure that we do indeed learn from each and every failure, regardless of how small or how epic. That process is outlined below:

Understand what caused the failure

Take responsibility for your own actions

Say it out loud – Own it

Document your failure like a textbook


5 Key Steps to Learning from Failure

Never Stop Learning

At the heart of expanding your social graph and reinventing yourself is an unquenchable desire to learn—a mindset that stays fluid and facilitates personal growth. It is the learners, those willing to open their minds and augment their skillsets, who will be poised to succeed in the future.

Never Stop Learning.