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How EdTech Is Shifting Education Away From a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Our panel of experts explains the potential EdTech holds for personalized distance learning experiences, and what it will take for these digital tools to remain when the pandemic subsides.

Bryan Davey, PhD., BCBA-D

President, Gemiini Systems

While the transition to hybrid learning has been a tremendous challenge, how can we make sure students receive a personalized learning experience?

As educators, it’s important we ensure our students are appropriately placed at their educational level. EdTech, such as Gemiini, allows for easy, accessible educational programming through on-demand skill and placement assessments, and automated program placement and progress monitoring. Gemiini’s revolutionary approach to automation and accessibility allows for educators to adjust to the students’ current needs. 

For learners with mandated or specific needs, programs can be based on behavior analytic assessments, IEP goals, 504 Plans, and curriculum-based assessments. The application of the system can be completed by Gemiini staff, overseen by a qualified professional, or parent-mediated. Collaboration across educators, specialists, and students’ families is paramount.  

Gemiini allows key staff and guardians the ability to view and, if appropriate, modify assignments in real-time. EdTech increases the personalization of instruction that provides students with appropriate educational challenges, and minimizes frustration while keeping students interested and excited about what they’re learning.

What are the benefits of personalization in education?

In general, personalized education is directly linked to existing skills for those in need of targeted instruction, and thus this approach has the potential to increase student engagement and learning. EdTech allows for automated personalization and on-demand learning opportunities. 

Gemiini meets the learner where they are at, not only in terms of educational level but also in terms of access. Through our proprietary online library of 150,000+ videos and therapeutic “playlists” focused on language, cognitive, social, emotional, and motor skills, Gemiini’s ability to individualize and target specific skills is unmatched. 

When specific deficits are targeted with increased repetition through video modeling, the student is able to acquire all skills at an accelerated rate. In contrast to the current model where students are educated in broadly defined ability groups, Gemiini’s next-generation approach to personalized education stands to accelerate outcomes and minimize factors that often delay learning. 

How do you think the abrupt shift to hybrid learning has impacted EdTech for the long term?

While the use of EdTech has increased, the current public health crisis may have provided the catalyst to the consequential disruption of the traditional brick-and-mortar model. Current events have forced an expedited shift to use EdTech, initially for the survival of teaching, but now in a smarter way to educate our students at home and in classrooms. Educators are realizing that systems exist that not only teach students during the acquisition stage of learning, but can be used to increase fluency and maintain skills over time. 

Gemini’s web-based, on-demand approach, combined with the use of evidence-based practices, such as video modeling, promotes generalization and maintenance of skills across all environments. Gemiini is poised to be the next generation of learning and skill acquisition programming. Educational systems must now look at and embrace the integration of EdTech to achieve a personalized learning system in order to serve their student population’s needs.

Eli Crow, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO, Education Advanced

While the transition to hybrid learning has been a tremendous challenge, how can we make sure students receive a personalized learning experience?

Technological advancements have helped teachers provide students with personalized learning experiences, but this is not a full-stop replacement for human-to-human interaction. Using technology to support curriculum-driven instruction and data to analyze progress toward standards mastery is valuable, but the key in any learning model is building and maintaining relationships with students.

What are the benefits of personalization in education?

Creating a perfect fit for every learner is no easy task but it can be a life-changing investment for students. Personalization develops student agency, encouraging active participation in learning and supporting the development of advantageous goals. Personalization also provides opportunities to shift the paradigm from grade level progression to competency-based mastery of content. In today’s educational environment, we cannot afford a one-size-fits all approach to instructional practice.

How do you the think the abrupt shift to hybrid learning has impacted EdTech for the long-term?

Watching the education community respond to COVID-19 has been inspiring. The resiliency of educators and the adaptability of education systems and EdTech providers in response to this forced evolution is impressive. These circumstances have accelerated the process of adoption for blended learning and provided an innovative, technology-rich environment for educators to rethink instruction and curriculum development. This situation has also revealed the need for tools that support equity for student access, and a platform to deliver instruction and monitor student learning.

Vicki Davis

Teacher and IT Director, Sherwood Christian Academy (Albany, Ga.)

While the transition to hybrid learning has been a tremendous challenge, how can we make sure students receive a personalized learning experience?

Hybrid learning is a massive challenge for teachers and students everywhere. The best schools will understand that multitasking is a myth and let teachers focus on students in either a face-to-face or distance-learning experience at one time. However, teachers that don’t have this opportunity should appoint classroom “team leaders” in the physical classroom to pair up with those learning at a distance. 

A classroom culture of helpfulness and encouragement during these times is going to be essential, for we truly are all in this together. Teamwork between parents, teachers, and students will have to be everyone’s goal if we want forward progress for students.

What are the benefits of personalization in education?

We must engage students and remember that the greatest personalization comes from the relationships teachers have with students. We must relate to educate. We human beings are relational in nature and students will push through the struggle when they know the teacher cares. 

Additionally, as we use AI-empowered apps like Grammarly, IXL, Read Write Toolbar, and other apps that personalize the experience for students (and use them properly), students can harness the power of JIT (just in time learning.) As teachers know how to use data that points them to students who need personal help in the moment, there will be less time for frustration to mount. 

The stakes are higher than ever, and a bad day for a student in class that results in the student not checking in or connecting with the teacher can result in a week of absences, or perhaps even a student educationally distancing themselves from school altogether. We cannot wait for COVID to end to start reconnecting kids to learning, and personalization can help.

How do you think the abrupt shift to hybrid learning has impacted EdTech for the long-term?

First, what we did in the spring was not necessarily excellent distance education — it was emergency learning. Some, even now, are still in emergency learning mode and haven’t been able to focus on excellence. Before we care about edtech, we must care about the children and the teachers teaching them. 

Those companies who care enough to make learning and teaching easy, helpful, and relevant will remain, but those who hype the hope only to have teachers find it was all tripe and smoke will vanish like all of our masks will the moment we are through this pandemic. 

Schools, teachers, and students with poor experiences with EdTech will return to face-to-face teaching never to return to the hope and help EdTech can provide when it is done well. However, those who are using it well will forever gain an advantage in what will likely be called the pandemic gap, further separating haves and have nots in a time when we need equity and justice for all more than ever.

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