Viewpoint: Can AI tutors help students learn?

If nothing else, the past two years have shown us that teaching, learning, and education can take different forms–and the pandemic may have altered how students, from kindergarten through college, learn in the future.   

With students returning to the classroom, educators and administrators alike continue to examine new ways that technology can be used to not replace, but augment, the teaching and learning experiences in our schools.  

What about the use of artificial intelligence in education?  Conversing with AI humans has been a long-time feature of science fiction, but it’s rapidly becoming a reality, particularly in customer service and experience settings as well in education. A realized future with AI is fast approaching. …Read More

Renaissance Releases Updated Focus Skills and Launches Math Trip Steps to Support Accelerated Learning

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (Nov. 4, 2021) — Renaissance, a global leader in pre-K–12 education technology, has updated its collection of free resources built around Focus Skills and debuted Trip Steps, which identify math skills students tend to stumble over. The combination of resources is designed to help educators increase the impact of their instructional time following the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Identified as key skills within Renaissance’s learning progressions—the path students take as they move from a novice to expert level of understanding, according to the standards of each state—Focus Skills are also important prerequisites for future learning.

“When we find that students are missing skills that we normally would expect them to have, we just don’t have time to stop this year’s grade-level instruction and teach a separate lesson,” said Dave Gibbons, curriculum director at Schuyler Community Schools in Nebraska. “We have to find ways to adjust our scope and sequence, our teaching, even the day’s lesson plan so that we can scaffold in the instruction students missed last year. We really have to know what those Focus Skills are in order to anticipate those needs and address them efficiently.”…Read More

Cost remains the top barrier to higher education

The cost of college, including the expense of living and the cost of tuition and course materials, is the biggest barrier to post-secondary education for students.

Not surprisingly, current, future and students who dropped out say “free college” would have the single biggest impact on them finishing or returning to post-secondary education, according to the Barriers to Post-Secondary Education Report from Cengage Group, a global education technology company.

The company surveyed more than 1,600 current college students, recent high school graduates and students who have dropped out of post-secondary education to better understand their education barriers and what would have the biggest impact on them completing their education.…Read More

4 ways to support the growing role robotics will have in society

In the past decade, robotics have evolved from a sci-fi fantasy set in some distant future to an industry capable of producing present-tense toys, companions, workers and self-driving cars. And this is just the beginning. The industry forecast calls for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 26 percent, which would mean a value of $210 billion by 2025.

The inventors (and users) of tomorrow are children sitting in preK-12 classrooms right now, who by and large are not learning about robotics. This represents a huge opportunity for education technology companies. Robots promise to become a bigger part of our daily lives as the industry shifts from being primarily industrial-driven to increasingly consumer-oriented. As they expand beyond the warehouse to wherever we need them, robots will become more diverse, intuitive and useful.

The speed of change has been impressive in recent years and will only accelerate as machine learning and neural networks endow robots with human-like senses, allowing them to “see” and even “taste” like we do.  The skills children learn through robotics could certainly lead to career opportunities later, but that’s not the only reason to embrace the ABCs of androids. In addition to a range of science and math skills, students can practice problem-solving and creativity as well. We’ve arrived at a tipping point in robotics, and for education, that represents lifelong learning opportunities.…Read More

4 tips to make virtual learning fun for students

While COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available, the Delta variant of the virus is raging across the country and forcing schools to navigate continued risk. Because of this, the virtual learning experience has lasted.

Educators, fatigued by tech challenges, student disengagement, reduced virtual attendance, and lower test scores, are worried. That said, virtual learning will continue for the foreseeable future because, still, no one knows what that future looks like.

Educators will have to focus on the advantages of the virtual classroom system, ways to improve virtual learning as a whole, and the quality of online education. By learning to engage virtual students in digital classrooms, educators will be able to build relationships with and teach students well–no matter what the world looks like as the rest of 2021 rolls on.…Read More

Toyota and Discovery Education Launch Initiative Inspiring Student Innovation in STEM

PLANO, Texas and SILVER SPRING, Maryland (September 23, 2021) — Toyota’s mission of Mobility for All is at the core of a new education initiative by Toyota and Discovery Education called Keys to Connect.   

Designed for wherever learning takes place, Keys to Connect includes a variety of no-cost, standards-aligned digital resources that immerse learners at all levels to address transportation challenges and imagine the future of mobility. Visit: toyotakeystoconnect.com

Keys to Connect features:…Read More

TutorMe Donates $100,000 in Tutoring Services to Racine Unified School District

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 23, 2021) — TutorMe, the online tutoring solution of the future, announced today that after a nationwide call for applicants, the team selected Racine Unified School District (RUSD) in Wisconsin to receive $100,000 worth of tutoring services. This donation provides the students of Racine Unified free 24/7 access to live tutors in more than 300 subjects to support learning recovery from school closures and remote learning due to the pandemic as well as address existing learning gaps.

According to Janell Decker, the deputy chief academic officer, some RUSD students are entering high school behind in reading and math, especially after the past year and a half, with so much disruption to the educational environment. RUSD is looking for additional resources and supports to ensure all students are on track. Instead of taking up state-mandated instructional time for added interventions, Decker said, “TutorMe can easily be incorporated into various times during and outside the school day, so this will help us tremendously!”

TutorMe’s network of more than 15,000 tutors will help address learning losses due to school closures and other disruptions during the past academic year. Participating schools in RUSD have received implementation support to get their staff and students comfortable with the TutorMe platform, which students will access via Chromebooks provided by the district.…Read More

Student-centered learning lessons from the Future Ready Library Summit

As students across the country began heading back to classrooms, a couple hundred library leaders participated in one of this summer’s Future Ready Library Summits. The guiding principle driving the agenda of this professional development opportunity for librarians was simple: students–or rather, student-centered learning. 

During the Summit, we reflected on the fact that in some cases, the students who will be returning to the classroom haven’t been in a formal school setting in a year and a half.  They are returning to the classroom, changed in many ways.  First graders may be walking into school having spent kindergarten on Zoom.  Freshmen may be entering high school after spending eighth grade being home schooled by a parent. 

As every librarian in the virtual audience was challenged to be empathetic to the challenges the return to school may bring for some students, each was also encouraged to acknowledge the progress the pandemic forced upon us. Today, students readily access digital resources. They understand the norms associated with virtual group discussion. Teachers are more comfortable delivering differentiated instruction through multiple channels.  After a year and a half of turmoil, we’ve made progress that should be celebrated.…Read More

3 key considerations for the future of assessments

The cancellation of summative assessments in the spring of 2020, coupled with the variability of the spring 2021 testing season, has significantly impacted the K–12 assessment landscape.

Though students continue to feel pressure around high-stakes tests, their perceived value has decreased dramatically, according to a recent study that surveyed K-12 educators and parents in the United States. In terms of measuring student success, respondents perceive standardized test scores as the least important among 14 factors, at only 29 percent.

When it comes to formative assessment or assessment for learning, however, things look different. To check students’ understanding, 76 percent of educators delivered formative assessments during remote learning. Though formative assessments have proven instrumental in addressing learning gaps related to school closures, the need for accountability testing has not gone away.…Read More

BetterLesson’s ‘Empowered Algebra Learning For All’ Named 1 of 11 Grand Challenge Grantees

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 — BetterLesson, a leading provider of high quality virtual and in-person K–12 professional learning, announces that the company’s “Empowered Algebra Learning For All” solution is one of only 11 grantees chosen for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenge. Algebra 1 is among the most important on-track indicators of students’ future success. In fact, students who do not complete Algebra 1 have just a one-in-five chance of graduating from high school.

The content of Algebra 1 tends to reflect the inequities experienced by Black and Latinx students, thereby failing to engage their strengths, and inhibiting learning. BetterLesson will collect input from students to develop and test new activities on the Desmos platform that provide multiple access points and engage through creativity, exploration, and collaboration, such as sketching and free-form writing.

In addition, BetterLesson’s Empowered Algebra Learning for All solution will provide 17 hours of professional learning support for Algebra 1 educators through a mix of virtual and in-person support from BetterLesson Coaches. BetterLesson Coaches will work with educators to deepen their work over the course of the year, as educators move from a focus on identity and self-reflection, to student agency and engagement and cultural connections and inclusivity.…Read More