Ari Bader-Natal

Grockit is a finalist in the Next Generation Learning Challenges

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Excerpt from a post originally available on the Grockit blog at http://grockit.com/blog/main/2011/04/14/grockit-named-nglc-wave-2-finalist/

I'm happy to announce that Grockit is a finalist in the second wave of Next Generation Learning Challenges. I'd like to share a bit about this project and why we think it's important. Here's the project summary:

The Virtual Study Hall: Making Personalized Learning Collaborative

Virtual schools let students learn from any place at their own pace. The challenge in this individualized learning is that without a synchronized curriculum and shared venue, students can feel disconnected from their peers and alone in their studies. As online learning options are increasingly available at the secondary and post-secondary level, the issues that virtual high schools face today are a preview of challenges to come with this new wave in technology-enabled learning. While the move towards personalized learning appears to necessitate a move away from social/collaborative learning, this need not be the case. Grockit has developed a web-based learning platform that bridges this gap, with a collaborative learning platform that creates networks for self-paced learners. Building on an existing relationship with Florida Virtual School, we will demonstrate and measure how this platform can increase learning gains by connecting and engaging thousands of students enrolled in 7th-9th grade level math courses online.

This project addresses a stumbling block that many technology-based efforts for individualized learning either have faced or will face soon: a large-scale shift towards truly personalized learning in a school fragments a single cohort of learners into single-learner cohorts. For online programs and courses, this fragmentation can negatively impact student engagement and completion rates. In building a system to be both collaborative and adaptive, Grockit has grappled with this issue for several years, and has now identified several solutions to enable both approaches to be supported simultaneously. For courses offered entirely online, restoring the opportunity for peer-to-peer collaborative learning can be quite powerful. By building a technology-based learning environment as a social construct from the bottom-up, students can reap the benefits of studying within a community of learners — a sense of connection to other learners, informal peer-to-peer assistance and motivation, and a social context for studying.