What are the basics of SkillsTutor and why are students jumping at the opportunity to use this program?
SkillsTutor is a comprehensive cloud based tutoring program that uses both diagnostic and prescriptive elements to deliver relevant, efficient online instruction. The result is personalized, individualized learning that addresses specific deficiencies in a very timely manner. SkillsTutor pinpoints what needs work, for each individual student, and then delivers a lesson plan customized for that student. The content is very engaging, students progress at their own pace in a very non-threatening way, and the activities average about 10 to 15 minutes. Students take to the program because it’s fun and it works. Because the entire program resides in the cloud, students can access SkillsTutor anytime, anywhere. Now that the program is available on 3/4g and wifi mobile devices, anytime/anywhere is really…. Anytime/anywhere!
Also, I believe deep down that every child wants to learn. They also want to succeed. By providing constant reinforcement and allowing students to track their student gains, SkillsTutor taps into those intuitive motivators that drive students to academic success. It works and kids feel good about themselves, so they naturally want more.
After the success of Skills Tutor, was it a natural transition into SkillsTutor Mobile?
Yes. But, I’d say that the mobile technology itself drove the transition more than anything else. In other words, the features and functionality now offered through mobile devices, combined with the ubiquity of access made available by 3/4g play the lion’s share role in driving the advancement of mobile learning. Mobile technology creates a broad, blank canvas upon which content providers such as SkillsTutor have the responsibility to paint their masterpieces. It’s the advances in mobile devices that lead to the intuitive next step in the evolution of learning. Content follows pace. Basic skills have always been around. Civilization started with an abacus, and the “teacher” was the “content”. Now, the mobile device is the abacus and the teacher is the facilitator. The content (and equally important, the “so what’s” around the usage of the content) is the true enabling factor in the equation. You need a product like SkillsTutor to make the iPad “relevant” as a learning tool. As technology evolves, so does our content, though perhaps at a different pace (SkillsTutor content has evolved since 1984, when it was first introduced as SkillsBank floppy disks). We have kept up pace with the ever changing academic standards and pedagogy, but the true pace is set by the relentless ephemeral nature of technology itself, and the subsequent disruption that keeps us in a perpetual state of “transition”.
How do you see SkillsTutor Mobile varying from other mobile learning games?
I suppose it’s important to first understand that SkillsTutor is not a “game” per se. Nor is it a “mobile app” per se. It’s a comprehensive, 100% cloud based, core basic academic skills focused solution accessible through a browser on any given internet enabled device, be it desktop, laptop or mobile device. Most mobile app educational “games” out there are supplemental fun activities that engage learners and provide entertainment, but whose measurable educational benefits are ancillary at best. SkillsTutor is purpose-driven first, and fun second. We are ALL about results. I download fun “educational apps” for my kids all of the time that push fun content out and assume some learning occurs. The whole SkillsTutor experience starts by us “receiving” information via diagnostic assessments first, and then delivering relevant instruction second, all the while recording data in real time and providing that data back to all stakeholders through user friendly, easy to read reports. It’s the “so what” factor; the real-time, easy to read and understand chart or graph that empowers the administrator, teacher and/or parent to become truly effective and efficient purveyors of knowledge
SkilsTutor was awarded the SIIA Innovation Incubator Program Award for “Most Likely to Succeed in the Education Market”. Where do you see SkilsTutor positioning itself in the education market in the next few years?
I believe that SkillsTutor has the opportunity and ability to establish itself as the leader and standard bearer in the industry when it comes to truly effective mobile learning models. I see us as more than a product. We offer a new, refreshing perspective on how to approach teaching and learning, a true model that does not “replace” the teacher, but makes the teacher far more effective, efficient and facile. I believe that a true standardized model will eventually materialize from the protoplasm of devices, content and implementation strategies. My greatest hope is to see SkillsTutor woven into the fabric of whatever model wins the day and I believe we possess enough flexibility, interoperability and overall quality to be an integral thread in that fabric.