ACT’s Next Act: Mosaic

ACT Mosaic

ACT has been amidst a multi-year transformation of perception as an assessment provider to a full-spectrum learning organization. Their latest announcement is a bold statement to that end. “Mosaic by ACT” encompasses an integrated suite of learning tools being offered by one of education’s most familiar brands in assessment, navigation, and measurement. Now, ACT has put their historical work into a user experience (UX) built upon several initial components at its foundation unlike any other offering in the market.

Jonell Sanchez, leader of the Mosaic project and president of ACT’s Learning Division, has been working to this end since joining the non-profit earlier in 2020. Jonell took charge after the acquisition of SEL platform, Mawi Learning in the fall, and played an instrumental role in this spring’s acquisition of the adaptive learning system, ScootPad. Acquiring and melding together these established platforms has allowed ACT to be responsive to the demand of the present landscape at the very edge of the opportunity gap for learners that have been set back by the global events. Whether it’s any piece of the online platform itself or engaging with the Mosaic Learning & Professional Services team, Mosaic is designed to be effective for a learning-from-home delivery right now. It goes where the learner and families go. The classroom and the teacher do not have to be in a physical space, according to Sanchez who also said:

“If parents and families participate in these solutions as early as kindergarten, and they gradually move towards the ultimate assessment, they may discover by way of the analysis of the data, they will see ACT is offering a longitudinal and comprehensive solution for all the student’s unique needs, academic and otherwise.”

This holistic mindset is becoming more evident with the release of Mosaic. For years, ACT’s researchers have been working with their partner schools to build solutions that not only address the most pressing academic needs, but for all the intricacies of social-emotional learning with depth. With a focus upon a personalized learning experience, Mosaic represents the diversity of the students we serve with an equally diverse product and service to address the needs of the whole-child.

Adaptive Academic Learning

Personalizing learning requires a stout set of pathways and options for learners and an efficient means for teachers for finding quality content aligned with discrete skills to nurture and track progress. Designed by educators for educators, the Mosaic adaptive learning flattens that effort for both roles in teaching and learning by reducing the effort significantly and delivering a UX that empowers a continual opportunity for self-paced learning. As the learner progresses, the solution suggests next steps based on mastery and increasing rigor and reinforcement of standards that are aligned to the activity. The open education resources embedded in the platform save district leaders money on otherwise expensive curriculum.

Social-Emotional Learning

ACT’s investment in deep research for social-emotional learning (SEL) is now being manifested in a very timely offering as a key part of Mosaic. Built upon the industry-respected competencies of the CASEL framework, Mosaic SEL extends the reach of educators looking for means to weave SEL into their instruction. This allows teachers to acknowledge the stress and anxiety that learners are carrying as pressures increase while proximity isn’t a reliable means, and offer tested and effective SEL interventions without having to exit the system.

Learning & Professional Services

One of the newest extensions of ACT’s strategy through Mosaic is a professional learning component that goes beyond technical assistance of curriculum and assessment. The Mosaic Learning & Professional Services (LPS) team of former frontline educators are ready to help school partners with interpreting the data received from the Adaptive Learning and SEL facets of the suite. In the same vein as for learners using those tools, they tailor a professional learning plan to suit the needs of their partners and offer a path towards mutual goals through successful deployment of the tools in Mosaic.

Sr. Director of Learning and Professional Services, Bonnie Hain said, “Putting all the pieces together is in itself complex, and ACT wanted to put together a set of resources to change the equity equation for all learners.” She expands on this need for educators to learn that, “ACT is at the core of research institutions and LPS is designed to share the research that is there and make it actionable to have impact on student outcomes.”

The Learner-Centered Art of Mosaic

Conceptualizing the Mosaic brand for providing more equitable learning experiences, ACT’s leaders wanted to acknowledge the unique portrait of a learner educators form in their progressive work with the families being served by schools using their tools and services. It goes back to the ACT Holistic Framework which has guided their evolving mission and value to the field.

The ACT Holistic Framework

Mosaic promises to offer entry points for a young person’s development through formal schooling and transitioning successfully into college and/or career.

With their roster of educators working with experienced learning researchers, ACT keeps a pronounced human touch in their UX design of Mosaic, from the user interface (UI) for both the teacher and student, through offering English learner needs in both the curriculum and the PD. Sr. Product Director Jeff Cuff has been chiefly responsible for keeping the needs of the end user at the forefront of design decisions, saying, “Anything we can do to make the tech invisible and let the outcomes shine, that’s the goal.”

Even interoperability is addressed by the developers at ACT by adhering to the IMS Global Standards for the popular and functional LTI specification. This means Mosaic folds into a school or district’s edtech stack, empowering real time sharing of data in a secure manner, based on roles and permissions for each role in the learning community. Whether this complements the other tools in use, or helps to streamline and reduce the number of tools relied upon for daily and yearly operations, ACT has thoughtfully included this functionality.

The road map for Mosaic becomes even more enticing as modules in development are released.

VP of the Learning Division, Julie Murphy said, “This is a subtle change in focus for ACT, in a sense. We’re using assessment and the curricular resources now coupled with professional learning services to transform the practice.”

It’s encouraging to see how ACT has emphatically put the learner at the center of their latest offerings to current school partners and it’s their hope new partners will gravitate to Mosaic as a means for accomplishing their own goals of offering quality learning experiences in a strenuous and stressful time for all.

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Eric Nentrup

Eric is an avid writer and education evangelist. With experience in media, edtech, sales and the classroom, he shares a unique cross-section of interests and understanding.

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