Some of my recent posts have described various aspects of our pilot programme for Junior Cert maths, such as how to use the system before and after Christmas or to act on exam feedback, and included some valuable feedback from our teachers. However, the best way to gain an insight into how any system works is to see it in action and we have been visiting schools around the country in order to better understand how the Adaptemy pilot performs in the classroom. School visits a deeper understanding of the user experience and we receive invaluable feedback from students and teachers while they work on the system.
Our most recent visit was to St. Raphaela’s Secondary School in South Dublin, where we worked with a first year maths class and their teacher who have been working on the system for a month.
After a warm welcome in the staff room of St. Raphaela’s, where the teachers discussed how proud they were of their students as they corrected homework and tests, we entered the school’s computer room as a first year maths class was about to begin. Adaptemy is designed to allow every teacher to manage their classroom efficiently, making it easy to intergrate with the traditional classroom workflow.
The students listened attentively as Conor Flynn displayed the teacher dashboard on the interactive whiteboard and explained how the system works. The atmosphere throughout the class was relaxed and focused as the students worked on the system, collaborating to solve challenging problems and asking for help when necessary.
Although classrooms using adaptive learning technology are fundamentally different from those using only traditional methods, the flow of the classroom was not dramatically different from any other and the technology blended seamlessly into the learning process.
In addition to the class teacher, another two teachers observed the session in order to learn more about the programme.
The teacher welcomed his students into the classroom and asked for feedback on their last assignment. He had used the system to identify one student who had experienced difficulty while working on the assignment and was confident that the others had successfully completed it. Conor’s demonstration on how to set up and manage a class via the teacher dashboard allowed the teachers to understand the system and one observers set her own account up while watching. All three were clearly passionate about their students and eager to learn about adaptive learning technology. The visit allowed us to obtain valuable feedback and allowed us to introduce some of Adaptemy’s more advanced features to our users.
While teachers are absolutely necessary for the success of our Adaptemy pilot programme, students are at the centre of everything that we do. As such, one of the most rewarding aspects of our school visits is seeing student progression and improvement as they work on the system.
The first year maths class entered the classroom and quickly logged into their accounts before placing their pens and notebooks on their desks, illustrating that they fully understand how to engage with the system after just a month of use.
Conor answered any questions that the students had and explained how the system learns about each student in order to provide appropriate but challenging questions, which surprised the students because being encouraged to get things wrong was unusual for them. The students began to work on the system and even helped each other with particularly difficult questions. The feedback they gave us will be very useful as we continue to improve our system.
Our visit to St Raphaela’s was an excellent opportunity to see how the pilot programme for Junior Cert maths works for students and teachers in the classroom, and the feedback we got was very encouraging.