Achieve3000 Session at the Lab

| May 18, 2010

As apart of the EdLab’s ongoing Adaptive Learning research we had the pleasure of having Anne Kel-Artinian, a Development Manager and Director of New Product Design for the Achieve3000 team, come and conduct an abbreviated orientation session on the products KidBiz and TeenBiz. This piece features a summary of our session as well as an end note on future project ideas.

Session

During the introduction Anne made the point of asking the crucial question:
What does it mean to be adaptive? She made it abundantly clear that we understand what the adaptive features of their product are because there exist varying degrees and definitions of how adaptivity is applied and used in commercial products. The Achieve3000 series uses specific assessments that measure students literacy levels in which all the content is adapted to that student’s personal level. Thus, this product’s main focus is to differentiate reading and writing content for individual students. The system uses an email account as the platform for the distribution of the material and provides the forum for interactions.

Assessment

How are the students assessed and assigned this level that then generates their content? Achieve3000 uses the Metametrics assessments to distinguish levels that students are assigned, this is known as their Lexile Level . This is an assigned reading level that is based on the idea that readers need to be matched to text, and the Lexile level provides a scale that efficiently matches students appropriately with literacy. With Lexiles, assessment results are used to ensure a “good fit” because the measure is used to select reading material that meets and challenges each student’s ability. The first email the students receive in their account is an online pre-test assessment that students complete in class and is the basis for which the students’ Lexile level is determined. The assessment is re administered throughout the course, to adjust accordingly to the students needs, as well at the end to evaluate the total gain the student made while using the product. The assessment system is brought to life by a dedicated team of writers and editors who produce daily content that is written for 13 different reading levels. The different reading levels was a major feature that was highlighted as a clear advantage that separates Acheive3000 from other products in the field of differentiating instruction.

Layout

The system itself includes different modules for the members involved. For example, there is a student account, a parent account, and a teacher account. Each with different features based on their role in the project. During the session, we covered the student account as well as the teacher account and were able to have access and explore both spaces. We now have access to the system for a limited time and if anyone is interested in gaining access to learn more, please leave a comment.

Accounts

The interface and design of the online package the students interact with is in the form of an email account. This account is not a public account but one they use as the mode of communication with the Achieve3000 content, personnel and teachers. The email account enables students to have access to all the features of the Acheive3000 5 step literacy process as well as some extra features such as games, cross curricular connections, contests and a writing center. The 5 step literacy process consists of an (1)email the students receive that has a link to an (2)article that is leveled to their personal Lexile level and includes an (3)activity that consists of questions that are also differentiated to their individual level. The students are expected to apply their comprehension of the article by creating a (4)thought question. The last step is the(5)poll stage, a synthesis activity in which students must defend an idea and chose a side they agree with.

The teacher account is comprised of components that promote best practices in literacy instruction, allow them to customize the content topics so they are aligned with their own classroom standards and plan and intervene in students’ progress. The system also has multiple monitoring and evaluation tools that allow them to interact with student usage, work, progress, content, and assessment tools/summaries.

The parent account was discussed as a feature that allows parents to have their own account to sign on and have access to the material the students are learning. They can participate and go through the same processes the students can as well as be able to see how their child has been using the resource. This account also has a great language feature in which the content can be fully translated into Spanish for those parents who need it.

Reactions/Future Ideas

This session was a useful experience in our teams exploration for adaptive technologies. It highlighted a specific area of the adaptive spectrum that we have been exploring, differentiating and individualizing. This product is unique in its ability to differentiate within a topic and have the same topic being studied within a class.

We also discussed the ‘adaptiveness’ of the product. Anne revealed there were trials of the technology that would assess after each interaction the student made and this was something that was counter productive because the students were unable to remain at a consistent level, therefore it became difficult to assess the student’s progress. This conversation alluded to the balance that needs to be addressed along with the relevance of the degree of adaptivity that can be offered.

I think there are major qualms about the word ‘adaptive’ as it generates expectations that can be idealistic in terms of the capabilities of technology to reproduce human relationships. There has not been a system that our team has identified in our research that is able to fully satisfy this term. There are multiple models and theoretical frameworks that have been laid out in theory to claim that technology provides adaptation. However, in practice, successful adaptation seems to be attainable in very situated and focused situations but there is not one all encompassing adaptive technology that is able to mimic the human experience.

Looking to the future…

Developing an edlab adaptive web based hypermedia tool.
Creating a beta version of survey sidekick that is adaptive.
Exploring the applications of Lexile levels for other projects.
What technologies exist that adaptive ideas can be be applied to in an innovative way?
What is the role of mobile devices in applying adaptive learning opportunities?
Is the ‘live syllabus’ project idea a tool that would benefit from being able to adapt to its users, to some degree?
What would an adaptive science lab look like? Can the ideas of adaptivity be applied beyond most of the typical domains such as math and literacy. With the upcoming seminar on the Digital Science Lab it will be interesting to gain ideas.