By John Mullin, CEO
When we look inside the K-12 classroom today, we see a teacher, students, textbooks, computers and an ever-widening achievement gap. Much like classrooms of 100 years ago, what we still can’t see is exactly what may be contributing to a specific student’s ability to learn well or struggle academically. Even after decades of extensive educational research, we still have no way of knowing what works best for each student in each situation every day. What we do know is that what works for one student in one class at one school may not work for the child sitting right next to him.
When Zoran Popović, Founder of Enlearn and Director of the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, looks inside the classroom, he sees a system with many interdependent yet unconnected parts that can and should work together to improve student learning. He sees the opportunity to create an environment where each dynamic element, be it the teacher, the content, or even another student, informs the other and provides everyone with real-time insights and support. Zoran envisions a classroom ecosystem where all children can learn to their full potential, because he says, “…There are millions of children who are brilliant and elastic and capable and they don’t even know it.”
In 2012 Zoran founded our nonprofit organization, Enlearn to make this vision a reality. He sought to build a groundbreaking learning platform that closes the achievement gap and engages students by making the entire classroom ecosystem adaptive. The Enlearn platform, which combines classroom data and machine learning, empowers publishers, school districts, and teachers to work together to to optimize content, provide actionable next steps, and deliver personalized learning to each student in real time.
At Enlearn, the key differentiator between ours and other learning platforms is the ability to encode the entire thought process within each problem. This enables us to identify, while the student is working through the problem, specifically where or how they are getting off track, rather than waiting for their final answer. We can then use this diagnosis to provide hints or scaffolds to get a student back on track within a problem and deliver a subsequent exercise or series of problems that focus on the specific misconception identified. Simultaneously, we can provide teachers with real-time data on the specific struggle for each student and recommendations for instructional strategies or interventions shown to be most effective in overcoming the misconceptions identified. No guessing game, no student working in isolation at a computer, no unactionable teacher dashboards or waiting for final answers from students. At Enlearn, we enable personalization and adaptivity within each problem to move the needle on student learning now, when students need it most.