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Edmentum Sensei: A Window to Your World

Friday, October 25, 2013 -- John Bowie

Imagine you are standing at the front of your classroom, looking out at your students through your tablet computer’s camera. Only you don’t just see your students on the screen; over each student’s head you also see a sign that tells you the lesson each student is working on, and which students are doing well and which students are struggling. You then use your camera to zoom in on one of your struggling students to see which concept she is having difficulty with. Then, after diagnosing the student’s problem, you give that student a supplemental assignment to help her get back on track.

This is the idea behind Edmentum Sensei, our new classroom visualization tool. But Sensei was not just our idea…it was also yours.

Listening to You

About a year ago, the Edmentum user experience team visited schools across the country to better understand our partner schools’ challenges. In these meetings, educators told us that they needed more than great online courses, content, and assessment tools; they needed something simple to help them track and respond to their students as they worked through their assignments. One teacher expressed her goals for a classroom management system this way:

“I want to pull up a class and see my students. Then I want to pick a student and have a choice of things I can do to monitor and manage that student’s progress. It’s as simple as that.”

Clearly, the last thing our customers wanted was yet another piece of complex technology to learn. To solve this problem for our customers, we would need to recreate the educator’s world in a software application.

Designing a Window

Upon returning from our customer visits, we convened a cross-functional team to analyze our research findings, identify educator challenges, and brainstorm solutions. We quickly realized that a traditional software design paradigm – one constructed exclusively from conventional components like menus and buttons and tables of data – was not going to give our solution users what they needed.

No, what our partner schools need is a window through which they could see how their students were performing, along with tools to respond to each student’s individual needs. After many more design iterations and follow-up customer research visits, this window into the educators’ world would evolve into Edmentum Sensei.

Adding the Question-Answering Machine

But we didn’t stop there. Recognizing that educators are always pressed for time, we designed Sensei as a question-answering machine. So, with one click (or tap on a tablet), educators can ask Sensei questions about their classrooms, such as:

  • Who has sent me a message that I need to respond to?
  • Who has submitted an assignment that I need to grade?
  • Who has recently failed (and is now locked out of) a mastery test?
  • Who has recently completed and passed a lesson?
  • Who has not been actively working on their assignments?
  • Who is logged in and working right now?

In each case, Sensei answers by showing only those students who fit the specified criterion. From there, the educator can drill down for more details on a student’s recent activity.

Empowering Immediate Action

While providing educators with the data they need to monitor student progress is mission-critical, so is providing a fast and simple way to take action on that data. Sensei makes it easy for educators to respond to common student situations.

One student’s mastery test is locked? One click unlocks it.  Another student has forgotten his password? One tap resets it.  Yet another student has asked a question? One click lets the educator respond with a quick message. And if a student is struggling to understand a particular concept, the educator can search for and assign supplemental lessons to help the student learn.

The Sensei Mission

When you use Sensei, we don’t want you to feel that you are seeing and interacting with technology. Instead, we want you to feel that you are seeing and interacting directly with your students. We have tried to provide, at a glance, the information you as an educator need to monitor the progress of your students, to diagnose learning difficulties and prescribe remedies, and to take action to resolve the most common classroom situations.

But we’re just getting started. We will continue to refine and enhance Sensei to make it even simpler and more powerful. We hope you enjoy using it and look forward to partnering with you to take additional steps toward achieving this mission.

Want to learn more?  Walk through our interactive video, Edmentum Sensei, and see how Sensei works firsthand.