Personalized learning a key theme from 2013 ISTE conference

“Personal Math Trainer Powered by Knewton,” part of HMH’s flagship “GO Math!” program, will be the first K-12 product to combine HMH content with Knewton technology. It will analyze—down to the concept level—each student’s interactions with HMH content to determine his or her personal strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and pace, then provide personalized trajectories for every student to ensure the most efficient path to achieving learning goals. The more students use the product, the more it learns about them and the “smarter” it becomes, HMH said—honing in on the perfect strategy for each student to learn each concept.

McGraw-Hill Education recently announced its acquisition of ALEKS, another adaptive learning solution for K-12 and higher education, in a similar move to make its curriculum software more personalized for students. The deal is expected to be completed this fall.

ALEKS uses research-based, artificial intelligence to rapidly and precisely determine each student’s knowledge state, pinpointing exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know, the company says. ALEKS then instructs students on the topics they’re most ready to learn, constantly updating each student’s knowledge state and adapting to the student’s personalized learning needs. McGraw-Hill Education has marketed and sold ALEKS for math in the higher-education space for more than 10 years.

McGraw-Hill Education will continue to sell ALEKS as a standalone solution over the near term, but the company plans a deeper integration between ALEKS and its content and digital platforms. As part of the acquisition, McGraw-Hill will maintain ALEKS Corp.’s current offices in Irvine, Calif.

Having more information about each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement is a key to delivering more personalized instruction—and toward that end, Edmentum announced a new platform, called Sensei, that adds a “data visualization layer” to its products, says Andy Frost, vice president of product management.

Free of charge to Edmentum customers, the platform will pull data from the company’s courseware and present it to users in the form of insightful graphs, charts, and other visuals—delivering a real-time picture of student progress and helping educators target their instruction more effectively. This feature will be available to users of Plato courseware and Edmentum assessment products in December, and to Study Island users next year, Frost said.

In a similar vein, PBS LearningMedia announced enhancements to its free content that will give teachers analytics to measure students’ use of the material and target their instruction more effectively. The enhancements, which also include content management tools that will enable schools to manage and add their own local content, will be available on a subscription basis.

Finally, Skyward announced a different tack toward making students’ educational experience more personal: It is launching a Student Reward System that uses the motivational strategies of online gaming to reward students for positive behaviors. The Student Reward System will be integrated into the Skyward Student Management Suite, the company’s student information system, at no additional charge.

Within the system, students can assume a virtual identity, or avatar, and earn points for academic-related activities and game play. When students accumulate points, they can customize their avatar, advance to new levels within the system, and enjoy other incentives, including the ability to redeem “virtual” points to purchase items from their school store.

The reward system is fully customizable, enabling districts to rename the program under their own brands and to set reward parameters, point allotments, and other system features to meet their needs. Educators can define point-earning opportunities, such as achieving a particular assignment score, improving grades, meeting an attendance goal, or exhibiting other positive behaviors. Parents and teachers will be able to monitor their students’ progress through the system, while school and district leaders can analyze data by school, grade, or class to spot trends. The system is being refined this summer and will be available in the fall.

eSchool News Staff

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at