mohit, Author at Magic EdTech

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Academic Enrichment: Supporting Student Success

What is Academic Enrichment?

Students receive a wealth of knowledge in their daily classes; nevertheless, every student is unique and responds to the course materials in their own way. While some students find it difficult to keep up in class, other students face the opposite problem. For some learners, the progression through the curriculum is too slow, making it difficult to pay attention. These students may become bored at school if the course material isn’t challenging enough. The standard classroom experience isn’t personalized for everybody, which is why many students may prefer the learning approach provided by academic enrichment to help address this situation.

Academic enrichment entails tutoring programs for students who quickly understand the material in a regular class setting but would appreciate learning at a higher level. It helps students who need the additional challenge in the classroom to stay focused and remain engaged in learning. Academic enrichment is offered within a small group setting and is available in a variety of subjects, such as math, science, and language. These programs offer a more balanced curriculum that is tailored to their knowledge level. It provides students with a more in-depth understanding of a subject, as these learners require more advanced content to be excited about learning.


Dispelling the Myths Around Academic Enrichment

Before we get into what effective enrichment looks like, let’s first dispel what enrichment is not. Enrichment does not entail giving students more of the same work or assigning excessively challenging activities. It necessitates providing more difficult assignments, but that doesn’t mean we give learners concepts that haven’t been formally introduced or create tasks that students can’t accomplish. Giving advanced students another worksheet to practice the same concept is not enrichment. Enrichment is not additional work but part of the program. It is the goal of enrichment to further the knowledge of students rather than to test them.

Academic enrichment is designed to provide students who have learned or can quickly master the basic curriculum with additional learning opportunities and challenges. Enrichment is related to concepts and themes within the curriculum but is not the required curriculum nor completely different from it. The purpose of enrichment is to deliver information to different groups of students in different ways and at different levels. Academic enrichment allows students to spend time studying subjects more in-depth, broad, and complicated.

Academic enrichment in mathematics instruction could be prompting students with open-ended questions that don’t have a single right solution. For example, students can be asked questions such as Irene buys a shirt that costs $25 more than Mary’s shirt. What might the two shirts have cost put together? Or, two numbers add to 18. What could those numbers be? When confronted with real-world math problems with multiple answers, students will be able to think more creatively and flexibly. In language arts, students can create two contrasting media messages that employ persuasive techniques to capture opposing sides of an issue, instead of just examining the impact of persuasive techniques in a formal argument.


How Can Academic Enrichment Boost Student Success?

1. Enriched Knowledge

The traditional classroom places a strong emphasis on memory and abstract learning. An academic enrichment program provides hands-on learning opportunities where students can take the theories and concepts and go one step further by applying them to real-world situations. Academic enrichment allows students to learn at a higher level than the regular classroom permits, encouraging them to learn more and expand their knowledge.

2. Self-Paced Learning

​​Every learner progresses at their own pace, but many students get bored with the typical classroom’s slow pace that is designed to accommodate everyone. Academic enrichment gives advanced students a tailored learning experience based on their learning ability. The curriculum for algebra classes, for example, will move at a faster and more efficient pace. The information is organized by ability level rather than grade level, which allows teachers to assign more challenging work when needed. Learners who can progress at their own pace are more motivated to do so.

3. Increased Learner Motivation

Academic enrichment aims to spark learners’ interest and engagement with the content. Enrichment programs establish a more positive attitude towards academics because students are encouraged to learn without worrying about evaluation. When students are challenged, they are more motivated to succeed. Teachers in an enrichment program provide learners with ideas that both challenge and engage them, resulting in increased overall motivation.

4.  Individualized Learner Attention

Each student receives less personalized attention at school because of the large class size. Teachers have a limited amount of time and resources to handle dozens of students, all of whom have different academic needs. Academic enrichment is created to teach in small groups. Therefore, the instructors have more time and resources to go over the course topics in greater detail. Overall, these programs provide an academic environment in which students and instructors can thrive.


What Makes Academic Enrichment Successful?

Academic enrichment benefits students who participate as seen above, but certain factors make academic enrichment successful. For enrichment programs that wish to make a difference, having knowledgeable instructors who are attuned to the needs of students is critical. Activities in enrichment programs should be carefully planned to provide age-appropriate development opportunities for all participants. Lastly, academic enrichment programs should make use of technology to help streamline program administration so that teachers can focus on the curriculum and ensure that students are learning.

Academic enrichment is beneficial to advanced students because it keeps them engaged and helps them fulfill their accelerated academic needs. Academic enrichment provides the best answer to the question: “What do you do when the student already knows it?” These programs enable students to achieve advanced knowledge and have been shown to improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Furthermore, academic enrichment activities help rekindle a student’s enthusiasm for learning. Personalized learning focuses on subjects that they are passionate about, and the fast-paced curriculum makes learning more engaging. Enrichment programs help students understand why they are understimulated in class and provide resources to help them become more engaged. Academic enrichment assists learners to overcome their fears of being different from the rest of the class while also boosting their confidence once they realize their true potential.


In conclusion

When the classroom isn’t challenging enough, your students can benefit from learning content that is tailored to each child’s specific needs. Learners should be able to move through the course at their own, comfortable pace. It is essential to provide personalized learning experiences for students to enjoy learning and remain engaged in the classroom.

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Adapting Interactive Content for Mobile Learning

With immersive learning, understanding the expected outcomes is crucial to learner success. There are little-to-no standardized plans of action when it comes to designing and developing interactive content for multiple platforms. As a result, it’s important to envision the deliverable content as well as the mode of delivery. A clear plan of action is imperative in deciding the overall design outline of the content for a better user experience. This can be achieved by correctly assessing the requirement, complexity of the content design, and preferred delivery medium.


Modern Age Interactions for Learner Success

The rise of digital learning over a variety of devices has presented learning content developers with an opportunity to make interactive content more interoperable, inclusive, and accessible. Interactive content is an enhanced mode of imparting knowledge with the end goals of engagement and retention.

To enable these goals, the learners are engaged in virtual tasks that are based on learning material. Interactive content employs minimal textual content. It relies more on multimedia (images/audio/video/3D models) for continued user attention and positive feedback. The content dynamically changes in response to the user’s input and delivers real-time, personalized results.


Enabling Interactive Learning Content

Learning through interactive content differs from learning through traditional reading because students can interact freely with the concepts and elements they are learning. This interaction and exploration boosts learning efficacy and allows for self-paced, iterative learning. When coupled with real-time feedback mechanisms, interactive content can further reinforce concepts and encourage learners. This type of online interactive content can supplement science and math curricula, making abstract concepts easier to understand.

Although it can be delivered in a variety of ways, below are some popular, well-defined approaches to engage students.


Forms of Interactive Content for Learner Success

1. Simulations and Virtual Labs:

A virtual lab is a simulated environment, wherein different scenarios can be explored virtually. This includes scenarios that are not usually available to all learners in real life. These complex learning resources are exploratory in nature. Sims and virtual labs allow learners to engage in different ways and assess multiple outcomes. Learners can form critical hypotheses and predictions in a safe environment and at a pace that is comfortable to them. This type of interactive content can also be designed for compatibility with learning standards, such as Common Core, NGSS, and others. It can be bundled with techniques to produce meaningful analytical data for measuring learning efficacy and effectiveness.

2. Educational Games and Gamification:

This type of content encourages learning through fun activities that engage participants in learning. The underlying courseware is designed to help the learner understand a concept through repeated engagement. The games are designed carefully, using the right learning principles, and are layered with increasing levels of complexity. Games can use media-rich gaming/gamification concepts such as challenges, levels, pyramids, rewards, and badges to keep learners motivated through the spirit of healthy competition. Interactive content in the form of multi-player p2p or cloud gaming can bring multiple students on a single platform to boost collaborative learning.

3. Augmented and Virtual Reality:

These engaging virtual experiences use the power of digital augmentation to enhance learning. AR and VR learning combine 3D models, gesture control, and superimpose virtual objects over real environments to help the learner physically engage with objects or spaces. As a result, AR/VR learning experiences enable a very high level of engagement and efficacy. Although previously associated with expensive headsets, this form of learning is gradually being adapted with affordable hardware being introduced in the market. With the recent buzz around the Metaverse, the adoption of these immersive experiences is showing tremendous growth and is predicted to become the next-gen medium of learning.

4. Assessments:

These are formative or summative questions that require learner input in the form of answers. Such content is useful in assessing whether the students have grasped the material and are ready to proceed to the next subject/level. Modern techniques of assessment follow the concept of adaptive learning, which assesses learners’ responses and measures progress to customize the assessment questions.

5. Interactive Multimedia:

Rich, creative animated videos, 360-degree environments & videos, embedded assessments for decision making and branching, etc., are all examples of interactive multimedia techniques that help keep users engaged. These can be accessed on multiple platforms and can easily be built across content.


5 Ways the US Education System is set to Address Learning Gaps and Inequity

Since early 2020, with the onset of the pandemic, there has been a significant disruption to educational achievement in the United States and abroad. School dropout rates have increased in the U.S., and the learning gaps have widened dramatically among students.

Students from marginalized and underprivileged backgrounds, in particular,  have faced the brunt of the consequences. The pandemic worsened the already existing inequalities in the educational system. The repercussions of these disparities have real-world ramifications that will soon be felt nationwide, and long-term, if not addressed promptly. As a result, advancing equity and closing learning gaps has become a top objective for the United States.

As part of their ongoing endeavor to achieve racial equity and support underprivileged communities, the Biden-Harris Administration released its first equity action plan. This plan aims to establish new pathways to achieve equity and also to leverage processes that are already in place. Through these initiatives, the nation will be able to arrive at its goals of increasing student achievement and ensuring the country’s ability to meet global economic expectations.


What does the Biden-Harris Administration’s equity action plan entail?

The following pointers form a part of the action plan released last week. It aims to achieve the following objectives:

1. Building opportunities for students to achieve an education beyond high school.

Traditional underprivileged populations continue to face inequitable access to postsecondary education. This is mostly because access, affordability, and equal funding across institutions remain barriers to achieving a postsecondary degree or certificate. The Department has committed that they will review and enhance the process for verifying financial aid applicants for better access and greater affordability. It also plans to take a comprehensive approach to ensure equitable funding by supporting institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities,  symbiotic or supporting institutions, systems and states to raise completion rates for underserved students.

2. ARP to fuel financial assistance for K-12 students.

The purpose of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is to help students who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The Department used ARP money to invest more than $3 billion to help students from low-income backgrounds, those with disabilities, multilingual learners, students experiencing homelessness, migratory students, and more to mitigate the effects of disruptions to in-person learning.

3.  Advancing civil rights through the right investment in resources.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education made the historic decision to collect data for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, marking the first time OCR has collected civil rights data from all public schools twice in a row rather than every other year. By examining discrepancies in educational opportunities, the Department can discover changes in students’ academic, social, and emotional development caused by the pandemic.

4. Promoting minority-owned small businesses through procurement.

The Department carries out its objective through sponsoring programs that increase access to high-quality educational opportunities and programs that promote teaching and learning innovations, with a focus on underserved kids. Each year, the Department convenes peer review committees of external education professionals and practitioners. The Department will extend its outreach efforts to gather the widest possible pool of reviewers in order to advance equality in the grant process.

5. Promoting access to innovative and high-quality learning programs.

The Department of Education continues to take steps to support and invest in high-quality programs for underserved learners. This includes funding programs and grants for innovation in teaching and learning efficacy.


Making learning more equitable for all students.

The Department of Education has provided unprecedented resources to states, districts, K-12 schools, and postsecondary institutions, including funding, guidance, and technical assistance, to assist educators in meeting the needs of all students, particularly those who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This plan aims to help schools, learners, and communities recover from the pandemic and rebuild.

As the US focuses on equity as a top goal, this will allow department program offices to focus on strategic plans, competitions, and initiatives in ways that improve educational fairness, resource adequacy, and opportunities for marginalized learners.


Better EdTech Product Integrations

What is learning product integration and why it is important?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to make the sudden transition from the traditional classroom to online learning before they were ready. Educators relied on edtech tools to instruct in the virtual environment. It became evident that classroom technology is only useful if it helps to create a positive learning atmosphere. Implementing new technology in schools can be disruptive and inefficient if an application doesn’t support the school’s workflow, which is why schools usually purchase self-contained software that doesn’t integrate with other systems.

Teachers and students, on the other hand, have to manage a variety of software programs, including learning management systems (LMS), student information systems (SIS), and videoconferencing technologies. Operating fragmented systems cuts into already limited classroom time, making it difficult for teachers and students to learn effectively in the classroom. As a result of COVID-19, teachers and students faced burnout when it came to adopting and utilizing multiple software systems daily because of the steep learning curve. To establish a productive learning environment, schools require a centralized system to streamline their information systems and technology. The solution to this is better edtech integration. An emphasis on the importance of edtech integration will improve student performance and the educational system as a whole.

The integration of learning products combines the various software applications and services into a single, unified architecture. Typically, edtech products are built independently of one another and meant to stand alone; however, connecting all of the different systems allows for enhanced functionality and performance. Many of these products and services are better leveraged when they are used together and complement eachother. Product design and engineering can help educators define, develop, and produce world-class products, processes, and services. Integrations simply assist in refining those efforts and work in add-ons, as the technology and learner requirements evolve. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most common integrations used in learning technology.


Types of integrations can be embedded into learning products:

1. Single Sign-On

Nobody enjoys having to remember several usernames and passwords and constantly logging in. Single Sign-On (SSO) allows users to access external software systems without having to remember multiple login credentials. With SSO integration, users simply need one account and ID to access all of your systems. A user can use the same login credentials to log into separate websites, making initial signup and ongoing access simple for both teachers and students.

2. Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is an integral component of remote learning for students at all levels. Without integration between the web conferencing platform and the LMS, instructors have to set up a meeting, copy the meeting link, and send it to their class through the LMS. Once the meeting is over, they’d export the link to the recording and upload it to the LMS. Integrating your LMS with a web conferencing service means that instructors can now schedule a session from their course page and all the students can have access to it without needing an invitation. Students can access the recording via a secure link within the LMS once the meeting is finished. This allows instructors to save time and connect easily with their students online without having to worry about the logistics of the meeting.

3. Automatic Grade Synchronization

Teachers hate it when they have to enter grades twice. Automatic grade synchronization is one of the most time-saving aspects of integration. For example, suppose a teacher uses your app to assign an exam to students on the LMS. Students can use their LMS credentials to log into the app and take the quiz. Your app can automatically grade the quiz and submit the results back to the grade book after it’s finished. Teachers must manually enter grades back into their grade book if grade synchronization is not available which is both time-consuming and error-prone.


In conclusion:

The events of the pandemic showed the education industry that more can be done to create a supportive learning environment. However, as you can see, learning product integrations has numerous advantages. Using integration to provide a single unified platform will improve education outcomes in terms of student performance and teacher productivity. Instructors will have more time to focus on teaching, and students will have more time to focus on learning. Teachers and students will benefit from the product synergy that was achieved through the integration of technologies.

How Can Analytics Augment Open-Ended Learning?

Learning is better retained when the learner connects with the content on a personal level. This is where experiential learning steps in. Instructional simulations are a typical example of experiential learning.

Unlike other educational tools, simulations are highly interactive and open-ended. There is no linear progression of problems and no right or wrong answer or attempt. Individual learners can manipulate and explore the simulation in many ways. In addition, simulations do not include conventional measures of achievement.

The problem arises when teachers and educators lack important insights on how learners interact with simulations. The nature of the data produced by these interactions is quite unique. It needs to be displayed via an effective dashboard design that shows data sources, analysis, and visualizations for these open-ended and exploratory environments.


What can we achieve through learning data?

Simulations can produce multiple types of data that can help institutions and educators do the following:

1. Assess the attainment of educational goals and objectives:

Gathering and retaining data on learner performance is necessary for teachers to monitor and intervene early when learners require remediation to improve performance.

2. Enable strategic planning:

Usage data, in particular, helps in strategic planning. It can help school leaders understand the degree of engagement with a particular course, which can lead to important financial or product and buying decisions. It gives educators a way to gauge the overall learning improvement by browsing through the academic records generated by the simulation.

3. Implementation of simulations:

Data on how learners interact with simulations can help teachers build lesson plans that are more tailored to each student’s needs. Since the feedback from simulations is almost instantaneous, this allows time for the creation of supplementary support items to enhance learning. Thus, a teacher receives a better picture of how to effectively implement simulations in their teaching.

4. Assessing effective kinds of simulations:

Since simulations are not a one-size-fits-all, not all content can be taught effectively using a single type of simulation. Usage data can help determine what kind of simulations suit different content types and engage learners in deep learning.


How to design simulations in step with learning levels

Bloom’s taxonomy provides a reasonable way of organizing the learning experience so learners can build skills in progression. Typically, a simulation is designed to enable learners to attain mastery of a concept, and the objectives of a simulation are mainly pertaining to the “Apply” and above levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.

There are two aspects of a simulation: knowledge and skill. Learners apply the knowledge in certain scenarios or perform an activity testing procedural skills. Simulations promote the use of critical and evaluative thinking. Some simulations are evaluative (learner is supposed to make some selection and interact to complete a task) while some are merely observatory (learner makes some selection and observes).


Which analytics are crucial to the learning process?

Essential data can be captured around the completion, user interactions on each step, repeat play, or first-time play. If the simulation is score-based then the score, the number of attempts, and mistakes committed are captured.

A dashboard should effectively communicate learners’ interaction patterns with the sims. This will help provide new insight and feedback to teachers and researchers as they implement sims in instruction.

1. The percentage of scenarios covered for each of the sub-goals by the learner during simulation play

a. Sub-goals will be defined in the storyboard

b. These will be mapped to Bloom’s taxonomy level

c.  Range of values/range of number of attempts for each sub-goal

d. % attempted by the learner

e.  A sequence of scenarios covered by the learner

f.  Scenarios not covered

2. Duration of time spent by the learner on each of the sub-goal activities OR sub-activities within the sub-goals

a.  Comparison vs. ideal time planned for a learner in the storyboard

b.  Performance of time spent across multiple attempts

c. % of learners completed before the planned time, on time, or after the planned time.

3. Evaluative activities

a. Number of attempts by the learner in a question to reach the final correct answer

b. Record a sequence of selected options for a particular question. It will help the teacher to understand where the learners are getting confused if the options are close distractors.

c. Accuracy of attempts across multiple attempts


Dashboard for learning performance monitoring

Dashboards enable ongoing performance monitoring and bespoke learning plans that aid in the movement toward developmental milestones. The dashboards provide feedback on performance, accurate visualizations, and analysis of performance data.

The overall objective of a LA Dashboard is to improve learning.

The subgoals of the dashboards include providing feedback on learning activities, supporting decision-making and motivation, reducing dropouts, and increasing engagement.

1. Learner Activity Meter: This is a line graph/scatter plot that shows the time spent by learners on each element/ subgoal of the activity. It is compared with the ideal time vs the average time spent by the batch or group of learners.

2. % Completion  Graphs

3. Scenario coverage

4. Track different learners’ configurations with the sim: Tracking whether the learners have completed certain steps of the sim

5. Duration in specific level/questions/ area

6. Time spends vs completion percentage graph: By capturing the time spend we can capture the completion of the simulation by comparing it with the ideal time.

7. List and percentage of simulation elements used

8. Level of completion/success: The progress of an activity reached by learners is tracked.


How to build effective analytics dashboards for learning

For an effective dashboard, the following parameters have to be kept in mind:

1. What specific information would the teacher like to know about the learners’ interaction with the sim?

2. How would the teacher make use of that information?

3. What kinds of questions have to be considered when an activity is designed? Assign an activity that requires the use of sims.

4. What level of metadata tagging is needed in the simulation?

Thus, a teacher dashboard to analyze and visualize learner interaction is crucial for responding to teacher needs and providing opportunities for improved classroom implementation of such simulations.


The Role of Virtual Labs in Immersive Learning

Theoretical learning is widely provided through lectures and tutorials, whereas practical experiences include hands-on laboratory sessions. Virtual labs can be used to reinforce complex theoretical concepts. Its simulated behaviors enable students to learn through hands-on practice within the class. Several educators have turned to virtual labs and simulation software to aid learning and application.

Virtual labs help students assess complex concepts and associate them with real-life scenarios. A simulation can encourage them to draw hypotheses and corroborate these through rich, interactive experiments. The students can conclude the learning in the form of assessments and journal notes for better retention.


How Does the Virtual Lab Model Help Learners?

Virtual and simulated training can add value to classroom lectures by assisting students in understanding and reinforcing theoretical concepts. There are numerous benefits to learning via a virtual environment. For example, activities that would necessitate custom and sometimes costly physical lab setups are difficult to imitate due to time, resources, or safety issues. Owing to virtual lab development, experiments can now be performed in the classroom or at home in a digital setup without losing the pedagogy and objectives.

This simulated environment also lends teachers an opportunity to design innovative course materials. Learners collaborate to uncover information, analyze, share findings and build knowledge and skills. Finally, all student actions can be captured and shared with the teacher, resulting in a highly interactive student-teacher relationship. In general, the virtual lab model enables students to learn, investigate and analyze complex scientific concepts in a simulated interactive experience. Virtual training can augment in-person training by creating learning moments that help the learners retain this information.

Magic EdTech has been supporting education companies and publishing houses to build similar learning products and solutions. A sturdy virtual learning approach would also seek to integrate the associative, cognitive, and situative components of the learning cycle. Virtual context empowers learners and puts them on the path to active and autonomous learning.

Immersive learning techniques, including virtual labs, are being considered more often and more seriously than ever before. These learning experiences can increase the students’ motivation and engagement, and drive up the efficacy of learning content, all with the flexibility of time, pace, and space.


The Potential of Virtual Lab Development Beyond 2022

As we reimagine the learning experience, simulated Virtual Labs show immense potential as drivers of self-paced, interactive learning. With it, there are greater opportunities for experiential and exploratory learning for students.

We’re curious to hear your thoughts on using virtual lab development for learning. Write to us at


Enriching Learning Pods with Immersive Learning

In the 2020 to 2021 school year, there has been a boom in unplanned educational experiments that have looked far different than the traditional school system. Specifically, the formation of Learning Pods, or as some refer to as “pandemic-pods”, gained tremendous popularity and success. As a lot of families struggled to incorporate an effective hybrid learning model for their children, many came together to form “micro-schools” where small groups of children could learn in person.

These small groups, most averaging about six students, are run by teachers and tutors who teach students their curriculum. For example, services such as Learning Pods, Selected for Families, and SchoolHouse identify and hire learning pod instructors for various sessions. Also, many organizations have been expanding through online, social platforms where they offer registration and information.


Pods as a Learning Environment

According to a New York Times Article Survey of 100 respondents, the major reason learning pods were formed was for the health and safety of learners. Many families, as well as teachers, wanted their children to have social interaction and in-person instruction. Parents struggled to keep their children focused during online learning throughout the day. In addition, working parents who could not supervise their children’s learning turned to pods to provide structured, timely education. Learning pods were there to provide a manageable, continuous, and effective learning environment for these children.

Being together during learning is extremely important, especially for young students. Joining or forming a learning pod exemplified these benefits for children, parents, and even communities. When kids are in a small group with a mix of abilities and backgrounds, they can help each other learn and build skills. Furthermore, social interaction is vital for children to build their confidence, share their ideas and passions, and learn to express their emotions. Lastly, motivation, a trait that everyone struggled with during the pandemic, is encouraged within pods. Students’ accomplishments are recognized and celebrated by others. This makes a huge difference in their self-esteem and motivates them to put more effort into their work; whereas the purpose for completing work was almost fully lost in an at-home, digital classroom.

Not only were the benefits of these pods felt by young students, but teachers as well. Studies on learning pods show that educators have experienced more joy of autonomy, creativity, and connection in pods compared to in school. Two main factors for this are the development of close relations and the ability to shape their professional autonomy. Educators indicated that learning pods allowed them to get to know their students better which in turn allowed them to better respond to the students’ needs. Further, educators have control of their time, curriculum, and lesson design significantly more than they could in a school. School environments are much more focused on the control and monitoring of lessons, materials, and learning plans, which are important but not central to student learning.


Virtual Labs in Learning Pods

Education tech companies for k 12 have created Virtual Labs to help reinforce the theoretical concepts students learn in class. Educators of learning pods can incorporate virtual learning labs, techniques, and tools to enhance the learning experience for students even further. Online professional learning systems designed for youth professionals can facilitate high-quality care and education, especially in these smaller communities. These systems provide evidence-based content, demonstrative tutorials, and practical tools where students can apply their knowledge and skills. The specialized design of virtual labs will allow instructors and students to focus on specific subjects matters. To further personalize the learning experience of pods, these systems can track each student’s performance and progress. Therefore, educators can best adapt their teaching styles to fit the needs of their students and have assistive technology to help present material.


The Future of Learning Pods

With the rise in uncertainty in a post-pandemic world, learning pods may be the wave of the future for edtech companies in the US. Many families enjoy that pods are tailored towards the different needs of their children. Learning pods may not “replace” school but they will be seen in different forms. For example, meeting on playgrounds during the weekend or at a church twice a week. There could be math-centered pods, reading and writing pods to accelerate learning in a particular subject. Despite the slight transition back to normalcy for schools across the country, the nature of learning pods is here to stay.


Building Virtual STEM Courses for Better Learner Motivation

What are the biggest challenges with STEM learning today?

Students and educators have discovered that digital learning, while offering unique opportunities, also poses certain challenges across academic disciplines. For example, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) requires hands-on learning.

Navigating what STEM would look like virtually, posed a challenge and continues to do so. This is reinforced by the fact that 73% of STEM faculty experienced many barriers to teaching virtual courses for STEM in fall 2020 when shifting from in-person instruction to remote learning, according to a survey conducted by the Online Learning Consortium and Bay View Analytics.

The biggest challenge faced by STEM faculty was student motivation. When learning through the usage of online video conferencing platforms, many students are hesitant to participate, have their cameras off, leave lectures early, or don’t even attend at all. Additionally, the increased reliance on online testing and exams made it difficult to ensure academic integrity because students were more prone to cheating and unmotivated to study. The design of hands-on STEM learning does not necessarily translate to the online format. The minimal social interaction between students and instructors online negatively affects performance, especially when students are not engaged as they would be in person.


How can we address these challenges when creating virtual STEM courses?

Despite the challenges faced by STEM faculty in teaching virtual courses, most survey respondents are optimistic about the future of STEM education. Transitioning STEM courses to an online format requires instructors to rethink ways to achieve the same or even better learning objectives. Keeping students motivated must be at the forefront of virtual STEM course design. Here are five ways to build content that keeps students engaged:


1. Develop a high-quality digital STEM learning experience

High-quality digital learning experiences rely on instructional design to align learning outcomes with activities, assignments, and assessments in a digital environment. Adhering to Bloom’s Taxonomy can help structure STEM learning content in a way that meets students’ cognitive, affective, and psychomotor demands in the class time frame. The more engaged students are, the more they learn.


2. Present a uniform learner view

While a physical classroom ensures that every learner is looking the same way, variable displays in video conferencing allow learners to switch the way they view the screen. However, the host can control what the student sees on the screen by using the presenter view. A uniform learner view creates a common visual experience for all students, reducing distractions and making sure that learners are focused on the content that is being presented.


3. Intersperse short spurts of content with peer engagement

Online content is best absorbed when presented in bursts of less than seven minutes; the ideal content length is three to five minutes. Content should be easy to consume, and students should be able to refer back to lessons on their own time. To encourage peer interactions, short activities can then be used to reinforce concepts introduced during lectures. Virtual STEM courses can use polls, chats, live quizzes, and simplified feedback delivery to maintain student engagement.


4. Plan peer-group breakouts

Traditionally, STEM education has involved students working closely together and collaborating in small groups as it enables learners to learn from one another. Breakout rooms can serve as great immersive environments to encourage group STEM learning and peer-to-peer interaction that might not otherwise be possible in an online setting. Students can perform the same activities at home as they would in school with their classmates on the screen.


5. Personalize learning pathways through assessments and analytics

The data from assessments and analytics can help instructors see what topics students understand, what they don’t, and whether they need a refresher before going to the next unit. Data allows teachers to discover trends and assess the comprehension of concepts to provide an enhanced learning experience for their students. This, in turn, improves the learner experience by reducing frustrations and boosting student motivation.

While the format of face-to-face STEM courses cannot be recreated in the same way online, the fundamental learning outcomes can be obtained in an online environment. As we embrace a new way of learning that is here to stay post-pandemic, students can excel in STEM if presented with hands-on learning experiences virtually. Virtual courses for STEM need to allow students the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills in school. As one of the Leading K-12 Education Technology companies, Magic EdTech is experienced with the creation of virtual courses for STEM that encourage better learner motivation to inspire a generation that will explore possible careers in STEM-related fields.


The Science and Theories of Instructional Design

Learning is acquiring new knowledge, various habits, skills, and attitude.

“How to accomplish learning effectively?” has been a topic of debate since ancient times. Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are prominent learning theories that suggest the psychological ideas about human nature and how they learn. These learning theories provide the foundation for the most effective instructional design strategies. Let’s talk about the distinct perspectives of the learning theories.


Behaviorism in Learning Theory

Behaviorism is an orientation to learning that emphasizes constructed environmental stimulus. It strengthens stimulus-response to bring about particular behavioral responses. The approach focuses entirely upon learners understanding the “What” through methods like rote memorization, identification, and association.

Behaviorism suggests that the role of the instructor is to manipulate behavioral change through specific reinforcement techniques, and that the learner’s role is to receive the information passively.

This approach effectively facilitates learning by recalling facts, making generalizations, applying explanations, and performing procedures. Where behaviorists consider that learning involves responses to stimuli, cognitivism contends that learning is much more than just this.


What is Cognitivism?

Cognitivism carries the notion that “learning involves the reorganization of experiences to make sense of stimuli from the environment.” Sometimes this sense comes through flashes of insight. Thus, cognitivists view the learning process as an internal and active mental process. It is said to develop an increased mental capacity and the inherent skills of a learner to learn better. The cognitivist approach is appropriate for advanced learning such as information-processing, reasoning, problem-solving.

Behavioral and cognitive learning theories are mainly objective, while the constructivist approach believes that individuals actively construct knowledge by creating meanings from experiences.


The Constructivist Approach to Learning

Learners build their interpretations based on experiences and interactions. According to Cunningham, “The role of instruction in the constructivist view is to show students how to construct knowledge, to promote collaboration with others to show the multiple perspectives that can be brought to bear on a particular problem and to arrive at self-chosen positions to which they can commit themselves while realizing the basis of other views with which they may disagree”.

Examples of constructivist learning are experiential learning, self-directed learning, and reflective practice.


Selecting a Learning Theory for Your Instructional Design

Learners, content type, and learning goals must be considered before settling upon a choice.

Learning ProgramLearning Theory / Instructional Design Approach
Introductory learning (Novice learners)Behaviorist/cognitivist approach
Advanced learning (Quasi experts)Cognitivist/constructivist approach
Expertise development (Quasi experts)Constructivist approach

The nature of the learning task and the proficiency level of the learners involved must be considered while integrating any instructional strategy. At the same time, it is very important that learning design must be highly contextualized, learner-centric, and collaborative.