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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Interview with Andrea Leyden, ExamTime: Focus on Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning comes in many different forms and for many different users. Welcome to an interview with Andrea Leyden, ExamTime

1.    What is your name and relation to e-learning?
My name is Andrea Leyden and I am  part of the ExamTime team. ExamTime is an elearning platform designed to encompass a variety of areas including social, mobile and adaptive learning to enhance the effectiveness of education.

ExamTime is a web-based learning solution which provides students and teachers with free access to elearning tools to create, share and discover resources including Mind Maps, Flashcards, Quizzes and Notes. The tools on the site encourage engagement and participation in the learning process by developing independent thinking and analytical skills in students.

2.    What is adaptive learning and how does it work?
Adaptive learning is an educational method which uses computers and other technology to adapt the learning experience based on the students' needs and progress.  

3.    What are some of the advantages?
There is a huge benefit from personalizing education by continually assessing student knowledge and skills. Applying this learning method in the classroom means that students have more control over their learning and their individual needs are heard. Education is not an area where "one size fits all."
Not only does adaptive learning help students by identifying knowledge gaps and barriers to assimilation of new information, it also highlights where a student's strengths lie. Identifying and highlighting weaknesses alone will only work towards student isolation and under-achievement. Build confidence by showing your students that their skillset is important and beneficial.

4.    How is ExamTime adaptive?
ExamTime has added new tracking and progress tools meaning students can apply adaptive learning to their own study. Students can analyze their progress based on their completion of resources such as Flashcards and Quizzes within a subject. After creating a comprehensive set of study notes and collecting resources using the pinning option, the new subject analytics feature will highlight the areas which need more work and where weaknesses have arisen. Resources can also be tracked individually to understand and assess key knowledge.

The Quiz feature is particularly helpful in this area. Creating an online quiz demonstrates if there is a gap in student's knowledge of key concepts and ideas in your subject.

Outlined below are some steps that allow students to use ExamTime for adaptive learning:
a.    Create Subjects for each course:

b.    Build a comprehensive set of study resources by creating and pinning with Mind Maps, Flashcards, Quizzes and Notes. Here are some examples:
Mind Maps

c.    Organize resources by categorizing study aids into topics:

d.    Test knowledge by completing Quizzes and Flashcard decks:
e.    Analyze understanding of core concepts based on this testing by using the Analytics feature within each subject. This step in the process is key to using ExamTime for adaptive learning. Using the Subject Analytics feature, students can see their score and progress after they have tested themselves. The graph will highlight areas where study has been focused and show where there is a gap in student knowledge. The related resources section within each subject will provide even more opportunity for students to have access to knowledge in areas they are lacking.

There are future plans to develop this feature even further so students and teachers can analyze progress even more so and adapt their learning needs based on this.

The Quiz feature is particularly helpful in this area. Creating an online quiz demonstrates if there is a gap in student's knowledge of key concepts and ideas in your subject.

6.    What are some of the topics used in ExamTime?
ExamTime supports active learning by encouraging students' creation of resources such as Mind Map, Flashcards, Quizzes and Notes. As a result of this philosophy, users have the ability to create any subject or topic they specialize or are involved in. That being said, the most popular subjects on the site which are already created are Math, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History and Geography.

7.    Can you give a few examples of case studies?
Selam Habtemariam, an 8th grade student has been using ExamTime to progress her learning for over a year. She comments that "in the last school year I started taking high school classes such as Physical Science and Geometry so I had to try a little harder to pass those classes. I tried my hardest studying with ExamTime and sure enough, I ended up getting the highest score in the class."

Not only does this show that studying hard and giving it your all is important, it also shows how much ExamTime can help students achieve their study goals.

Rafranz Davis, an established US education blogger and instructional technology specialist, helps teachers to empower students to become autonomous learners using innovative teaching strategies. Davis and her students seek out new ways to approach learning by sharing new discoveries.
Her students flipped their role by teaching her and other teachers how they were using the free online learning platform ExamTime to impact their learning.

"You can't get this kind of work on paper," Davis comments while her students show her how easy it is to create a Mind Map online.

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