Academic Approach's highly personalized "Teaching Beyond the TestTM" method of tutoring and standardized test prep worked wonders in person: raising scores substantially and, more importantly, giving students a stronger foundation that made them better students. Could that experience be replicated – even enhanced – online?
Highly interactive exercises and vibrant visual feedback help students focus their efforts and see personal progress.
Our first challenge was to prove that Academic Approach's personalized approach would translate to the web as successfully as we suspected. We worked with the team to review the existing materials, understand the pedagogy and interaction that tutors employed, and identify a set of functionality that would capture the experience — from the first meeting with the tutor, to the initial diagnostic test to benchmark student skill level, through multiple side-by-side tutoring sessions and individual work modules, to diagnostics that marked progress and practice exams.
Answers 'unfold' in the browser to show lesson details based on student choices, reinforcing learning in real time.
Armed with these materials, we developed a vision prototype that illustrated both the content and detailed interactions that the web could provide. For example, many of the instructive lessons that Academic Approach's tutors used were presented as games or multi-step experiences; with web technologies, we could provide a question or set of options and let the responding answer or feedback "unfold" based on the student's choices. Web interactions like drag-and-drop would work perfectly for vocabulary matching; transitions would allow students to "flip" flashcards or tag exercises for future review; bright color-coded lesson feedback would highlight correct and incorrect answers; and browser based timers with built-in blink transitions could subtly keep students abreast of the clock during timed practice test exercises. And once completed, each lesson would be graded and presented with a color-coded marker — bright green for exceptional work, light green and yellow for good performances, and orange/read for lessons that require additional review and practice.
Once finished, the prototype became a blueprint for the working system. We developed and tested representative HTML templates for Academic Approach's key lesson types, exercises, timed diagnostics and skills tests, and lesson plan modules, from which the development team created a full complement of curricula for a range of standardized test subjects and academic areas.
Today, Academic Approach's online tool is a useful complement to one-on-one tutoring, as well as a robust stand-alone platform for individual students, that continually expands with new examples, lessons and exercises.
Learn more at Academic Approach.