The word of the decade in Silicon Valley is “scalability”, or, if you’re not familiar, how to expand a service or product to its maximum potential and widest reach. For years, startups and tech companies have been building technology that reaches as many people as possible.
Compare that to education and you’d be hard pressed to find an industry that resists “scaling” as much as teaching. We know that great teachers can help improve learning outcomes for students by a standard deviation, and sometimes even more.
But great teachers are not software that you can expand across the world. They’re personal, communicative, and effective in small settings like classrooms and libraries.
The tech industry can still help. Instead of “scaling” teachers, we can expand their reach with a solid, reliable platform that eliminates the common pain points of the classroom using tools that students are already familiar with. Without the problems of losing track of homework, printing and copying paper assignments, and anxiety around class participation, great teachers can foster meaningful discussions with their students.
Using the GreatSchools API scores as a benchmark, we’ve gathered data that shows around 1750 of 2200 schools that use Edmodo have seen 12-20% increases in their GreatSchools scores. That’s around 80% of schools seeing an increase.
It’s not just Edmodo, either. In April 2016, Pennsylvania State University completed a study around using social media to enhance student retention. They looked at student retention when MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) used traditional web forums versus social media like Facebook. Here’s what they discovered:
We found that students showed higher engagement and retention in social media than the forums, and identified four reasons that lead to the results including:
- a real community in Facebook,
- instructor initiated discussion forum,
- a better place for collaboration and
- more convenient to communicate with others.
Our interviews with instructors unveil four motivations of using Facebook including enhancing student retention and engagement, cultivating a sense of community, advertising their MOOCs and being creativity.
Silicon Valley can help track resource sharing and consumption, which saves time and allows for rich discussions around those resources, using the tenets of scalability to help teachers.
We’ve seen over 1 billion resources shared on Edmodo to date, which averages out to 200 resources per minute. We’ve heard from teachers who value the “richness” of the discussions that these resources provide, sometimes even more than multiple-choice quizzes and tests. Being able to provide students with these resources enables better engagement in the classroom, which leads to higher educational comprehension overall.
Some people might think that the tech industry, a booming element of the private sector, is incompatible with teaching, a largely public field. But Silicon Valley can do so much for teachers: providing connections to resources, students, and other teachers. And we know that this is only the beginning.