Learning Catalytics transforms students’ mobile devices into enhanced interaction tools.
‘Blended learning’, an approach which draws on a mixture of online technologies outside the classroom and traditional in-classroom teaching methods, is winning over an increasing number of schools and universities. A recent trial of this methodology at the San José State University in California in partnership with startup edX – founded by Harvard and MIT – has now resulted in the program being opened up to 11 other universities. Education startups, such as edX and Coursera, plus other developers of educational websites and devices, are taking over the market. As regards the equipment used, the Amplify tablet has recently hit the headlines with its claim to be the first tablet designed exclusively for educational purposes. The development of this market often goes hand in hand with fruitful partnerships – between universities and start-ups, between manufacturers and media groups, between publishers and software platforms. Another recent example is the recent acquisition of Learning Catalytics, a cloud-based learning analytics and assessment systemstartup, by publishing and education giant Pearson.Learning Catalytics provides a platform which can be incorporated into classroom activity, enabling a higher degree of interaction between students and teachers and between the students themselves, and encouraging greater sharing in the world of education.
Evaluate and create level groups
Learning Catalytics enables students and teachers to interact more profitably both inside and outside the classroom, thus generally improving teaching methodology. In line with the ‘blended learning’ approach, Learning Catalytics allows faculty to obtain real-time responses to open-ended or critical thinking questions, determine which areas require further explanation, and then automatically group students for further discussion and problem-solving sessions. The platform, which runs on mobile devices and also students’ and teachers’ laptops, is in use right across the educational world from primary schools to universities. But Learning Catalytics does more than just allow students to give answers to questions or even provide teachers with a better understanding of how their students are doing, and in which areas they are having difficulty. One of Learning Catalytics’ guiding principles – and a major source of the platform’s added value – is that when students help each other this substantially increases their comprehension of key concepts. The data analytics function enables teaching staff to organize the study program so that students with a more advanced understanding of a given topic can help their peers get up to speed while they supervise groups more effectively. According to a Pearson press release, research has shown that instant feedback and peer-to-peer engagement are two factors which help improve student comprehensionsignificantly.
Fostering better collaboration in the education world
Paul Corey, Pearson Higher Education President of Science, Business, and Technology, explains in the Pearson press release:“What attracted us to Learning Catalytics is its unique ability to make these proven learning techniques more scalable both in and outside the classroom, to enrich them with more actionable data and innovative analytics, and, ultimately, to make them even more effective.” Learning Catalytics is also keen to encourage collaboration between schools and colleges. For example, if a problem brought up in one educational establishment has already been solved, the solution should be made available to other institutes. Pearson’s goal at this stage is to become a front-rank supplier of digital tools for the classroom, for both teachers and students, and to enable students to get the most out of their education. And when it comes to getting the most out of an education program, blended learning seems to be the way to go.