Right now, families (and educators) across the country are planning summer vacations. My family is no exception – we’re headed to NC for a family reunion over the Fourth of July. I’m also planning to take our kids camping here in Minnesota (during the brief window of time when it’s actually warm enough here to sleep outside). All of those families (including mine) will need to answer a couple of basic questions: “Where are we going?” and “How will we get there?”
Education is also going places. Lots of places, in fact. Changes in education are happening quickly and in ways that are sometime surprising. I, for one, will admit that I am surprised by how quickly schools have adopted mobile learning. At this time last year, a relatively small portion of schools had purchased or were planning to purchase mobile devices for their students. One year later, those numbers have grown faster than most of us thought they would. The pace of change in education makes it especially challenging to build a roadmap that not only meets today's needs, but anticipates tomorrow's.
As I said in my last post, each of Edmentum's products has its own unique roadmap and vision. All of those roadmaps, though, address large changes that are impacting education across the country. Here are the five biggest changes that are driving our product roadmap:
- New Common Core Assessments and the Proficiency Cliff
Districts across the country are preparing for new assessments. Those new assessments will change the way tests are delivered, change the type of content that is tested, and change the way teachers and students think about tests. Preparing for these new assessments is one of the top three priorities for educational technology leaders around the country, according to a survey by CoSN. One significant change will be the introduction of new technology-enabled assessment items, which you will see show up in several of our products this year.
The tests will also raise the bar in a way that will cause many states to experience significant drops in proficiency, similar to those in Kentucky. This potential proficiency cliff will cause educators to think differently about how they prepare students and how they personalize instruction. Edmentum has always had a strong focus on leveraging technology to personalize instruction, and our roadmap continues to combine assessments and online content in exciting new ways so that educators can help their students reach new levels of proficiency.
- Mobile learning
Whether it’s a one-to-one tablet initiative at an elementary school or a new BYOD program at a high school, mobile learning is changing education at an exciting pace. At Edmentum, we are committed to ensuring that all of our solutions support learning wherever, whenever, and with whatever device makes the most sense for learning. Delivering on that commitment will take time and investment, but it’s an investment that we started last year and we’re picking up the pace this year.
- Student data
As educators are increasingly asked to change by doing more with less, they need fast, easy access to student data in order to make the most of their scarcest resource: time. One of the things I am most excited to share with you in the coming months is the work our User Experience team has been doing around data visualization. Putting student data at your fingertips in an easy, intuitive, and actionable format is an art. And we have some amazingly talented data artists working on the next generation of Edmentum products.
We are also working hard to make it easy for data to move in and out of our products. Whether that’s student data coming from your Student Information System into an Edmentum product, or student progress data coming out of an Edmentum product, we want all of that data to move as quickly and seamlessly as possible so that educators have exactly the data they need exactly when they need it.
- Ease of use
From time to time, our consultants forward me emails they receive from the educators they work with in the field. My favorite one this year came from an educator in Indiana. Here’s an excerpt: “Holy h***! I just used the app to unlock some tests and that is freakin awesome! I had the girl’s test unlocked before she could refresh the page!”
I love the excitement that our new Plato Educator mobile app engendered in this teacher. There is nothing better than delighting a teacher by saving them time with a well-designed, intuitive interface. We plan to do a lot more of that as we turn loose our User Experience team on all of our existing products.
For years, educators have trusted Edmentum products because they simply work. They enable schools, districts, and colleges to create the change they want to see because they are built on sound pedagogy and practice. And we have the research to prove it. As we move forward, expect to see even more research to prove that our products produce results.
I’m excited for my team to share our vision for the future, one product roadmap at a time, over the next several weeks. Enjoy the posts and tell us what you think!