As we nurse optimism towards navigating out of the pandemic, there are calls to reimagine K-12 education knowing that elements of hybrid learning are here to stay. Technology solutions have provided stop-gap means to address remote schooling, and back-to-school in-person instruction has been a welcome respite. But roadblocks remain as schools plan for hybrid learning as the new normal. Schools and teachers alike want more technology solutions – to extend beyond instruction towards a better student learning experience, a better teaching experience, and ease of use for teachers and setting the stage for purposeful teacher-student feedback interventions. We introduce Knowledge AI Technology Solutions, Inc (aka KAIT™), an AI-based individualized learning platform, as a promising solution to mitigate these negative effects and successfully adapt to a hybrid learning environment. With its two solutions, KAIT@School™ and KAIT@Home™, KAIT™ is the only education software able to offer a complete hybrid learning capable solution.
Harboring optimism of coming out of the pandemic, schools see better learning environments in a hybrid setting as the way forward. Most have accepted the idea that in the new normal, hybrid learning is here to stay. We seek not just to avoid mistakes made during the pandemic response, but to also question traditional practices and reimagine classroom learning entirely. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for an imminent technological change in education.
The standard model of learning was developed over a century ago in response to the needs of the industrial revolution. However, today we are preparing more diverse groups of young people for a future workforce we cannot begin to fathom.
Thanks to government aid allocated to schools through ESSER funding in the US and added support for schools to utilize solutions that improve learning outcomes, hygiene, and safety around the world, education institutions are in a place in which they can institute revolutionary changes that will benefit the next generation of students making their way through K-12 school systems.
In this paper, we highlight the challenges from COVID-19 slide and learning losses for students in primary and secondary schools around the world. Technology has come to our aid to an extent as we switched to remote schooling. We share research-based suggestions that can aid student learning, where technology offers the potential to aid teachers. Yet, with uncertainty about remote and hybrid school options, technology can also risk becoming a burden to teachers and students. We introduce KAIT™, an AI-based individualized learning platform with offline writing capability, as a promising solution for schools to consider towards a hybrid learning environment.
COVID-19 Learning Regressions
More than a year into the pandemic, the impact it has had on families and school children’s mental health is only now beginning to surface. While adults have experienced increased uncertainty over the economy, unemployment, finances, and have been forced to consider their mortality – young people have also watched as their lives turned upside down. Schools shut down, opened, then closed again, with an uncertain future ahead. Although the emotional impact and challenges for student learning have been reported, not enough time has passed to fully grasp the extent of the damage endured.
A growing and emerging body of studies shows that remote students are more stressed than those who attend in person classes. Students stuck in perpetual video conferencing school are complaining of back pains and burning eyes and feel more depressed, anxious and lonely than ever before.
Although remote learning technologies have made virtual learning possible for many, school closures have widened opportunity gaps and created disproportionate learning loses for low-income students. Forced to adapt to a less than ideal hybrid learning experiment, schools have failed to provide students with the quality education they deserve. The pandemic has set back learning for all students, especially those in less affluent districts. Furthermore, though in ways less visible to the naked eye, our children’s mental health has been gravely affected as a lack of stability and social interaction continues to permeate through their daily lives. For students learning remotely, feelings of school-related uncertainty has increased significantly. Teachers’ syllabi are handed out to students with gaps and question marks. With little to no prior notice, schools have been opening and closing, and standardized test dates or cancelations remain in limbo.
The hybrid model has prevailed. However, it does not come without roadblocks; in-person classes offer the human connection but technology use differences make it still harder. Routine gives young people a predictable structure that guides behavior and provides an emotional climate that supports healthy development. Conversely, the loss of routine may drive uncertainty and may impact development. At an individual level, students learning remotely have lost many of the activities that provide structure, meaning, and a daily rhythm in their lives. Since a large part of remote learning takes place asynchronously, students learning from home have a heightened sense of disorganization and lack of structure in their days. Hybrid learning models have made this worse by combining in-school learning and remote learning, thereby increasing the complexity and anxieties felt by the students. Just as an Android phone user may find it difficult to navigate an iPhone (or a Windows PC user with a Mac), students may perceive a disconnect when they adjust to the technology and practices of remote learning, only to change to an entirely different approach for an in-person class. For teachers alike, adjusting to different workflows with or without the use of technology (e.g. for assignments, assessments) can be a frustrating experience.
In summary, COVID-19 learning regressions are felt globally and so are the frustrations schools – teachers and students alike – face. We need solutions for the better.
Research-based Suggestions for Better Student Learning
We turn to the research literature for insights that inform a better student learning experience. While there are no silver bullets, there are three ideas that will be helpful:
- Prompt feedback interventions to learners,
- one-on-one attention from teachers or experts with quality feedback,
- spaced repetition leads to better learning and retention.
Prompt feedback interventions
Effective feedback must be delivered in non-judgmental language, in an appropriate setting, with a special focus on specific performance rather than the individual. Furthermore, it must be based on directly observable and objective information.
In the current educational landscape, the feedback giving process is becoming increasingly more difficult. In remote classrooms, feedback becomes even harder to come by. The increasing load on the teacher is causing slower, less frequent feedback to students. Furthermore, the shifting demands and modes of assessment administration between learning contexts is accentuating such difficulties.
One-on-one attention with quality feedback leads to better learning and retention. When students are acquiring new knowledge and skills, the single most significant factor that will determine their success is the amount, timing, and quality of the feedback they receive.
The graph below, from Benjamin Bloom’s ‘2-sigma problem’ research in 1984, plots the impact on academic performance based on 3 cohorts of students: conventional, mastery learning, and tutorial. Students in the conventional learning control group were learning in a traditional classroom with a 30 to 1 student-to-teacher ratio. Students in the mastery learning experimental group also had a 30 to 1 student-to-teacher ratio, however, the students received individualized and frequent feedback from their teacher. These students outperformed the students in the conventional learning control group by 1-sigma, I.e., the resulting distribution is one standard deviation better. Finally, the students in the tutorial experimental group were taught one-on-one and were given the quality and frequent feedback. These students outperformed the students in the conventional learning control group by 2-sigma, or resulting distribution is two standard deviations better.
Spaced repetition to improve learning and memory retention. Learning is not a passive pursuit. Retention of academic material is generally difficult as it goes against adaptive instincts to optimize space in the short term, long term, and working memory. Spaced repetition, a learning technique involving repeating information to be learned across increasing intervals, is a highly efficient way of retaining information. While we may have heard it colloquially as ‘practice makes perfect, or ‘out of sight, out of mind’, spaced repetition seeks to counter the risk of forgetting that is natural to humans. Drawing suggestions from the Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve*, teachers can design their schedules for lessons, tests, and informal assessments for their students. Technology solutions offer the potential to create learning environments with these principles that can be a valuable aid to teachers and students.
The graph below depicts Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve which portrays the decline of memory retention in time. This image also shows how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it. However, the more one attempts to retrieve the information from memory in a scheduled and well-thought-out way, the longer the new information is retained.
A better experience for teachers to spend more time and attention with students
Even the most qualified, high performing, teachers who implement these strategies in their classrooms have been left overwhelmed, unable to follow student progress and face risk of burnout in adjusting to technology-imposed requirements.
Teachers are seeking technologies that will allow them to break free from the tedious and mundane tasks that come with the territory. They desire a technological solution that offers flexibility across remote and in-class, and is a one-stop shop for tracking student progress and managing rote activities that otherwise take up time.
With such technologies at their disposal, teachers will have more mind space and recuperate valuable time for purposeful student interventions, individualized attention for more students, and feedback.
Successfully Adapting to a Hybrid Learning Environment with KAIT
We introduce KAIT’s two products:
that solve the problems for school administrators, teachers and students. We highlight two of the key benefits from the KAIT solutions: 1) flexibility, and 2) digital record of student work. First, whether in school, at home or adapting to a hybrid learning arrangement, KAIT’s products bring flexibility, reduced complexity, consistency and structure to students’ learning trajectories. By having access to their virtual classes and assessments scheduled in one single centralized portal – students can have their daily tasks and goals outlined clearly for them. Students can seamlessly navigate through their coursework from anywhere, even if their learning environment unexpectedly shifts. For teachers, KAIT serves as a one stop shop to manage their classes, student assessments and progress. With KAIT, potentially unexpected and sudden changes between remote learning and attending school in-person are thus easier to navigate and manage.
Second, KAIT offers additional modalities to integrate with KAIT’s digital pen and Pencast™ feature– a distinctive feature over online-only virtual classrooms, video conferencing systems and portals. By using a low cost, classic ink-based, digital recording pen, teachers and students have access to pencasting capabilities, which allow for unique pedagogical and AI guided opportunities.
KAIT’s product leverages technology from its parent company, Anoto LTD, and reflects tens of millions of investment dollars and decades of deep research and product development. KAIT extends Anoto’s technology ability for applications to teaching and learning practices. At its core, KAIT’s product functionality for Pencast™ includes precise stroke and time data that together create a detailed digital record of student work—both in real-time and offline.
Using this data, KAIT is able to provide detailed diagnostics and insights, as well as AI generated individualized practice problems—all with the intention of facilitating teachers’ applications of research-based suggestions for better learning outcomes. In many ways, KAIT allows teachers to effortlessly introduce Bloom’s mastery learning into their conventional classrooms by giving teachers more time, more insight, and more overall efficiency.
KAIT has been deployed at schools across the globe across multiple countries. Inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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