by Wil Lampros, President of ALEKS Corporation
One of the biggest challenges educators face today is how to differentiate instruction within the classroom.
To pick a common scenario, the average middle school math teacher may have students working at drastically different levels of knowledge; some students may be working more slowly, while others may be quite advanced. Furthermore, students working at the same level may have widely varying gaps in their prerequisite knowledge. We equate this scenario with Swiss cheese, because students arrive with different holes (or gaps) in their background knowledge.
Unfortunately, this can lead to frustration all around as the students who are ready to move forward are prevented from doing so, while the students who are having trouble risk falling so far behind that they may never catch up. This is where individualized assessment and learning to pinpoint a student’s knowledge plays a critical role.
Transcripts don’t tell the whole story; unless an educator knows what specific challenges a student faces, it is difficult and time-consuming to pinpoint the gaps in a student’s foundational knowledge. Adaptive learning programs can serve as a valuable tool for educators and students, allowing them to identify knowledge gaps and tailor instruction and learning accordingly.
One Solution: Being Ready To Learn
Our program, ALEKS, uses a powerful artificial intelligence engine to drive its adaptive assessment; it is able not only to reveal the individual gaps in student knowledge, but also to pinpoint the topics each student is ready to learn. “Ready to learn” means exactly what it sounds like: the student has the knowledge and skills to master the new topic right now.
While technology is a powerful educational tool, it can’t and shouldn’t replace the teacher in the learning process. With so many committed, hardworking educators who make a significant, positive impact on their students, teachers are essential to effective student learning.
As an educational technology company, we strive to provide educators with the highest quality tools, to allow them to focus on what they do best – teach. With detailed, instructionally-actionable data at their fingertips, educators have the most up-to-date information on their students’ progress at all times, allowing them to easily differentiate classroom instruction to meet student needs.
With the availability of systems like ALEKS that are able to intelligently adapt to individual student needs, we can assist teachers in providing a student-centric experience where they are far more likely to achieve mastery.
Educators and government entities are beginning to demand acceptable learning outcomes for all students. If teachers are provided with adequate resources to accurately assess student needs and deliver individualized instruction, we can enable each unique student to maximize his or her potential, and create a promising future for education.
It is what we at ALEKS strive to provide every day, and we challenge our colleagues throughout the ed-tech industry to do the same, regardless of their chosen tools or technology.
Wil Lampros is President of ALEKS Corporation, a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill Education and a leader in the creation of web-based artificially intelligent education software; image attribution flickeringbrad; Designing An Adaptive Learning Program To Support Teachers