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Why and How The EverLearner Changes Classrooms

Posted by James Simms on July 5, 2018

According to globenewswire.com, the global online learning industry is set to be worth $325 billion by 2025. Clearly, we are not the only online learning platform, nor are we the biggest (yet!) and there are platforms out there which outperform us technologically (at the moment!). But there is one area in which I think we far outperform almost all other online learning platforms and it's really simple.

We don't stop at producing online content and leaving it up to the individual to consume. We are focussed on school students and we know the end users well. We are teachers, so we can empathise with the barriers teachers face and we know the tools which will help them. And being teachers, we know students. We know what they are capable of, what they can achieve if they put their mind to it and the tendencies for them to not always see studying as the priority! Of course, we strive to keep learning more but we have a pretty good understanding of what teachers and students want and need.

So, how does this make The EverLearner different from the other online learning platforms? It stems from our core philosophy, which is to use technology to humanise the classroom. Where others stop after they produce the content, we keep going to ensure that the online learning platform is a gateway to a more efficient, more enjoyable, more effective and, ultimately, more successful classroom. We see the value in technology for education but only if it improves the learning experience. Not because it is cheaper, not because it is more fun, not because we're jumping on the EduTech bandwagon, but because we see a fundamental problem with the current educational model and technology offers a solution. In short, we started with a problem and used technology to fix it. We didn't start with technology for technology sake, or to make a quick buck.

So, in a nutshell, here are some of the main problems we see with the traditional model:

1. Teachers broadcast to groups of students at the same time, regardless of the current knowledge/understanding/performance level of the individual students.

2. Students cannot access teaching outside of timetabled sessions.

3. Students can only access the resources the teacher provides when the teacher provides them.

4. Students can't easily go back and re-cover content they didn't understand.

5. Students can't go ahead of the pace set by the teacher.

6. Students do what they are told, when they are told (or at least that's the idea!).

7. Teachers produce, analyse and report on data (progress, effort etc).

8. Teachers work in isolation and rarely learn from each other.

9. If gaps appear in students' knowledge, the teacher often doesn't realise until it's too late to do anything about it.

10. The average classroom, by definition, has the average teacher. Some students are lucky and learn from knowledgeable teachers, others strike out and don't have access to teachers with great subject knowledge.

I could go on...

Technology can't replace the real-life teacher, nor would we want it to. No one can replace the teacher who inspires you, makes you laugh, cheers you up if you're having a bad day, noticed that you're not yourself, knows about your family, understands your likes and dislikes, knows your fears, understands your hobbies and all of the other facets of a truly great teacher. Maybe, someday, technology will be able to do these things, but right now we're in the age of vaguely personalised adverts, so we have some time before we need to worry about virtual reality teachers taking all the jobs!

We use technology to fill in the gaps that the current model has no solution for. I'll repeat the list of problems below and explain how online learning helps solve that problem, in the context of already existing classrooms, not a replacement for them.

1. Teachers broadcast to groups of students at the same time, regardless of the current knowledge/understanding/performance level of the individual students.

Solution: Technology allows us to put the 'content delivery' aspect of a teacher online, accessible any time, any place. Students who need to spend longer can and those that already know it can skip ahead. A class of students can now take teaching at different rhythms.

2. Students cannot access teaching outside of timetabled sessions.

Solution: As above, the teaching, and questions, are available ay time, any place, so the student is no longer constrained to the shackles of an arbitrary timetable or a physical classroom.

3. Students can only access the resources the teacher provides when the teacher provides them.

Solution: All of the resources, including the teaching, questions and, in time, worksheets and activities are available all of the time, not just in lessons where the teacher provides it.

4. Students can't easily go back and re-cover content they didn't understand.

Solution: I think you get the idea by now, yes they can!

5. Students can't go ahead of the pace set by the teacher.

Solution: Again, the teacher (at least the content delivery) is online, doesn't sleep, doesn't get tired and is always there. Nothing on the site is 'locked' so all of the content for an entire course is available regardless of a student's current level.

6. Students do what they are told, when they are told (or at least that's the idea!).

Solution: Students can self-pace and self-direct their own learning. It is guided by the teacher and there are rigorous targets set to keep students on track towards a larger endpoint. But within carefully set, rigorous boundaries, the student has the freedom and flexibility to learn at their own pace.

7. Teachers produce, analyse and report on data (progress, effort etc).

Solution: Every action on the site is tracked so teachers, students (and soon parents) get an objective, live, reliable record of what the student is working on, what they have mastered, what they are struggling on and where they are in relation to the entire course. It tracks time spent, level of understanding and progress over time. The teacher then acts upon data and doesn't need to produce it.

8. Teachers work in isolation and rarely learn from each other

Solution: Classrooms are the size and shape they are because it works for the traditional model. One teacher can 'control' around 20-30 students and they can broadcast to all of them simultaneously. One classroom is separated from another by a wall to stop one broadcast interfering with the one next door. With no broadcast happening to groups of students, combining classes becomes possible. So rather than 1:25 we can have 2:50 or 3:75. Students and teachers can collaborate and learn from each other. Imagine!

9. If gaps appear in students' knowledge, the teacher often doesn't realise until it's too late to do anything about it.

Solution: When teachers produce data, there are inevitable mistakes, we miss things and make assumptions which are not correct. If we miss that a student has not fully understood something and we don't pick up on it until next lesson, or the following, or the end of unit test, or even later than that, it is often too late to act on it.

10. The average classroom, by definition, has the average teacher. Some students are lucky and learn from knowledgeable teachers, others strike out and don't have access to teachers with great subject knowledge.

Solution: At least with regard to the delivery of the subject knowledge, we can, in theory, find the very best teachers and make them available to every student.

Technology doesn't provide all the answers, which is why trying to replace schools and teachers with technology is destined to fail. But technology can help to fix some of the problems that the current model has.

This is no longer a wild fantasy. We have detailed plans for how this can be accomplished in your classroom right now, and we run regular sessions in our Classroom21 training centre. Some images of this classroom and the first group of candidates for our CLassroom 21 Training Day can be seen below.

If you are interested in how TheEverLearner.com can support you in changing your classroom for the better, please contact mike@theeverlearner.com.

In the small group teaching space, students get 1:1 support on concepts they are finding difficult.

The quiet study area is for traditional classroom activities: worksheets, past papers questions, exam prep, card sorts etc.

The terminals space is the zone where students take online teaching and quizzing (when in the classroom).

The play space is a hands-on activity area, ideal for gaining intuition through building, making, taking apart, modelling or debating.

Students can work together and discuss without disrupting others who are taking teaching or doing other work.