Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Textbooks have been around for centuries. They are pieces of knowledge put on paper and bound. Authors start at page one and continue until the epilogue. From A to B to C... boring, but necessary. When computers came around, information was seen differently. We were freed from the shackles of the linear, given license to roam to our hearts content, skipping links through a complex web of interrelated topics. We were allowed to think non linearly, to teach dynamically, and to innovate in previously unfathomable ways... so why don’t we?
KP is hard at work taking advantage of technology to free learning from the old linear instructional design. How could a sculptor work with only a pen and paper? How could an architect help but feel limited by concepts only drawn on long expanses of chalkboards? As publishers and framework designers, it is our duty to create materials that break the traditional models that are holding us back.
Our response to this challenge has been to create the next generation textbook by utilizing concept-driven mastery. Simply put, information in a given subject is broken down into individual concepts. Educators piece these concepts together and create a learning module. Students are tested against the knowledge through KP’s Automatic Remediation and Mastery System (ARMS) in KP Compass and given a knowledge rating (Novice, Apprentice, Scholar or Guru).
By doing this we are no longer bound by the rules of a linear textbook model (pun clearly intended). Apple’s recent announcement of revolutionizing the textbook is another step in the right direction, but it is by no means redefining the genre. E-Books are simply lazy translations of an old system into a digital format. They are great for saving trees and shoulder pain but there is nothing revolutionary about them. Making it easy for authors and publishers to put media rich content in an interactive tablet makes the content more interesting but it’s still in a linear design.
The next evolution will take a holistic approach. Look at the content as a whole and then break it down into its simplest forms which are knowledge concepts. This is a philosophy that will always elude the chapter by chapter design of textbooks. And without making things modular, they become fixed, difficult to move, and eventually skipped! We want to put customization back in the hands of the educator to determine what the student needs to learn. In a world where our 21st century learners are multidimensional thinkers, linear models don’t go with the flow of information that students are comfortable with in their lives outside the classroom.
Publishers need to get off their thrones and make that leap for the sake of education.
The new KP Compass learning platform is designed with the philosophy of doing a few things, very well. First, our aim is to put the information in the hands of the students anywhere, anytime, on any device. Using HTML5 to drive our front end, we are able to accomplish and scale the platform from something as small as an iPod touch to as large as a 1080p computer driven display. This is access without limits. Second, we aim is to put the content back in the hands of the teachers in the field. We accomplish this by allowing the teacher to take individual concepts, add their own content, and assessment questions, and put it all together into a relevant learning module. Then, POOF, the system does the rest. Teachers won’t have to worry about things like terms, vocabulary and tests because the platform takes control of the details. That’s interoperability. This much magic would even make the teachers at Hogwarts proud!
This design challenges our current thinking of testing for grades, and transforms learning into a true system of growth and mastery. The current instructional model relies on fixed tests, which can be intimidating and stressful for the students. They study for this test, cramming all the knowledge they gained hoping that they will get a few question that they can spit back correctly. Or worse, they just study the answers to pass the test without mastering the subject. Moreover, if students get a C on the test, what can you say to them, “that’s ok, try again?” There is no ‘again’, unless they fail the class and to take it over again. Because of the linear system, all they can do is move along the track, at the mercy of the engineers that designed it, and the conductors that are paid to keep things chugging along.
The Automatic Remediation and Mastery System in KP Compass is designed to give the students a chance to practice in a less stressful environment but it is no simple, single practice test. It is a system that promotes mastery through the use of abundant assessments. Simply put, we create more questions than any one student will ever use, so that their assessment is unpredictable, challenging, and measured with a larger statistical sample. KP Compass, contains concept pages, each with a large number of questions related to the content. When students feel ready they test themselves on the learning module.
The testing system randomly selects three to five questions from each page and builds a quiz for the student. If the students answer the questions selected for a given page, then the page is remediated out of their learning module. Any pages that are not passed remain for them to review the content and test again. We never tell the student what questions they got incorrect because we don’t want them to just study for the answers. The goal is to go back to the lesson, and master the content. The can repeatedly test their knowledge against the content, getting different questions each time.
The students are also given a knowledge rating for their performance. Game theory principles are embedded into the system, with student’s leveling up their knowledge after starting at Novice. Each time they take the test, they gain knowledge points. Points are accumulated in the learning module, allowing them to level up through Apprentice, Scholar and Guru. They also gain points which are applied to their personal profile and their K-Bot (Knowledge Bot) which has its own leveling system. The gaming is not in the forefront of the system, but it creates an environment that adds a bit of fun without the recognizable ‘cheese’ that we commonly see in education games.
In the end, the teacher knows the knowledge level of each student and can address the needs of struggling students on an individual basis. The main goal of KP Compass is to allow teachers to do what they do best, mentor the students and help facilitate the learning process. Information is readily available and stale lectures serve little more than to bore the students in a controlled environment. Face time is valuable and should be spent in creative discussions, group projects and performance of skills that teach through doing. Knowledge is power, but true wisdom can only come from experience. KP lets technology handle the knowledge, so teachers can get down to business.
KP Compass is the net result of over 10 years of research and experience publishing our own content in a digital format. Unlike other platform providers who build the system and tell others to put information into it without the experience of content, KP has always had content and developed technology to suit our vision and goals. We create new ways to interface with content with a fundamental philosophy of keeping the information organic.
KP stands for knowledge and practice. We have invented the knowledge portion of our overall design. Next up, we tackle the practice side of our namesake. I’m thinking we should call our newest feature LEGS which stands for Logarithmic Evaluation and Grading System. Sounds impressive and reflects the non linear approach to 21st century learning! KP’s vision is to eventually create a learning system that incorporates true Project Based Learning (PBL). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We will soon have ARMS and LEGS, but we still need a head and a body to realize that dream. :)
Before I sign off I would like to leave you with a final thought. I was speaking to a retired educator today about her thoughts on the state of education. She expressed being simply overwhelmed by all the information today compared to the slow, structured, and easier to comprehend lessons of her day. She felt helpless to teach kids that constantly needed to be entertained. An analogy popped into my mind that express the nature of today’s MTV/YouTube generation of learners. The mind of the student today mirrors the information that they absorb. Really, it is that simple. Back in the 1950’s, children learned in a sterile and highly linear fashion. Their hands were held, as they explored a giant castle one room at a time, never looking around the corner until they had gotten their fill. Today, students are virtually let loose once they breach the first door, running rampant down the informational hallways, sometimes exploring 2, 3 or 5 rooms simultaneously! Video games, TV, multimedia and the Internet have changed the way students think and indeed retain information. The very concept of a linear path has been outmoded, because a student’s brain is wired to accept information in ways that are at once inspiring, challenging, and possibly downright scary to educators. The system must adapt. If this means that teachers will be running wildly around the halls of the castle, bouncing from room to room and helping students to learn however it comes naturally to them... I say so be it! We will be there to help instructors deal with this new type of student.
For more information about KP Compass and authoring/publishing in a concept driven mastery platform, please contact Nai.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Working with ACTE, we placed five learning modules covering these topics: About ACTE, About CTE, Programs and Services, Policy & Advocacy, Career Readiness, Workforce and Development & Industry. ACTE will be promoting these learning modules to all its members during CTE month. Teachers will be able to read about these topics and test themselves in KP’s state-of-the-art Automatic Remediation and Mastery System (ARMS). Participants will be competing with other teachers nationwide, and prizes / recognition will be awarded to the top 20 participants. They will also be competing as representatives of their region against other regions, and the top region will be recognized.
Overview video of CTE Month on KP Compass
Try it out for yourself at ctemonth.kpcompass.com or kpacte.com
The online platform that participants will be logging into, KP Compass, is a fun and creative way for people to learn. The information presented in these five ACTE learning modules has been in publication for years. It has been on websites, pamphlets, magazines, newsletters, e-mails and journals. The information is out there but the audience needs a creative and fun way to learn it. KP Compass is designed to take information such as ACTE’s (or as you would find in a standard textbook), break it into individual bite-sized concepts, and apply an online mastery system to test user knowledge. Through KP Compass, learners will become engaged in the content in ways they never have before. It’s the same old information but presented in such a way that people will want to learn it. During the CTE Month Knowledge Challenge, as members learn more about ACTE and CTE, they will become active and engaged.
One major advantage of KP Compass is its accessibility. Using HTML 5, the platform can be delivered on any internet enabled device with a modern browser. Learners can use desktop computers, laptops, iPads, tablets, iPods and smartphones to access the content and test their knowledge. Mobile access is critical in a modern platform as more and more 21st-century students turn to smartphones and hand held tablets for their learning needs.
Immediate feedback is highly important to drive the students forward in their learning track. KP Compass is designed with concept driven mastery in mind. Students master individual pages and get feedback ask they test their knowledge over and over again through our use of abundant assessments. Over 250 questions were included for these five learning modules. Using the ARMS component of KP Compass, learners get immediate feedback on their growth and areas of deficiency. A random test is generated from micro test banks associated to each page of content. As the student tests, pages are identified and passed (remediated out) if they answer the questions correctly, while failed pages remain in their working bin and students are prompted to review the content and retest over those concepts. The students are given a knowledge level for the given learning module and their individual concepts so they can have a fairly accurate representation of how well they know the information.
As they test, they level up their knowledge from Novice, Apprentice, Scholar and then eventually Guru. They gain knowledge points through the entire process and will also level up their K-Bot (Knowledge Bot). Kromey the K-Bot is their personal knowledge assistant and travels the world to various cities to dig up knowledge as they test. Kromey also levels up and gets better parts as the students do better on the tests. Compass employs subtle game-theory principles to help drive the learner forward in their education experience. The key to making a good game system is to put it in the background and not make it take center stage, which is where most education implementation of gaming systems fail.
Watch a video of how Michelle Green used the system at ACTE 2011 when we debuted the system.
During CTE month, teachers will compete on a national scale to see how they rank in their knowledge about CTE. Regions will also be in competition for national recognition. In CTE as with all learning, friendly competition will drive achievement, foster growth, and ultimately improve knowledge and awareness of the ACTE organization.
For more information about KP Compass and KP ARMS, please contact KP at 800-701-6323 to see how you can use this technology to create the next generation textbook, e-book, iBook2 in your school, organization or business.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
The first major run of the KP Compass Automatic Remediation and Mastery System (ARMS) was a success at the Association for Career and Technical Educators 2011 conference! What better way to test out a new student-centered learning system than with a bunch of teachers at a national conference?
We had over 75 participants and many of the top 10 reported the addictive nature of the game, which had them leaving the conference with an intimate knowledge of ACTE and CTE in the process. I interviewed two teachers on the final day of the contest. Each expressed their desire to achieve and get to the next level as they learned more about CTE through the 5 modules designed by ACTE.
Michelle Green, a first time ACTE attendee, speaks about how she used the testing system on her iPhone and watched Kromey, our mascot, level up as she answered questions correctly. Having placed 7th, she lost the challenge but she left the conference a winner for knowing more about CTE than she ever thought possible.
Marcy Oxford, a technology director for her school district, expresses to me how she lost sleep while playing the challenge. I watched her move up the ranks throughout the day since as she was determined to win. She recites the knowledge she gained about CTE and recalls her experience as she spent Friday playing through the quiz on her iPhone.
I also spoke to two other teachers about their experience over the phone. First place, Andy Williams, and 11th place, Rey Monoz. Rey was instrumental in the game as he took a commanding lead on the first day of the challenge. I was curious to see whether his lead would cause other players to give up or inspire them try harder. By Friday, his lead had been knocked down to 11th place. Rey stated that he was addicted to the leveling system and wanted to see what happened next as he took the tests and gained Knowledge Points. He teaches game design in high school and expressed how he loved the way we implemented our game mechanics and resulting algorithm.
Andy Williams was determined to win; he took the lead Friday night and continued playing into Saturday. He said he started out hurrying through the test, but since he was getting poor results, he went back and studied the material and tested again. He claims that he knows more about ACTE now after mastering all five learning modules. He was shocked by how quickly he was able to see his results and leader board updates after taking the tests on his iPad. He found it very logical and easy to go back to areas he needed to study as he became more and more involved in the process of gaining points and leveling up. He sees great application of this system in the classroom. Determined to get first place, he consistently monitored the leader board throughout the conference and took more tests as people came close to his position.
Listen to the phone interview with Andy Williams.
What is KP ARMS
KP ARMS is a revolutionary new piece of technology created by KP Education Systems. An integral part of KP Compass’s online LMS structure, ARMS focuses on the students’ experience through the remediation process, focusing on mastery rather than grades. Unlike typical online tests and quizzes, which give feedback only on incorrect responses, ARMS uses a series of algorithms to guide students through the learning process with remediation.
ARMS takes the content provided by the instructor and the system randomly selects questions from each concept page making it a true random assessment of their knowledge. Once graded, the student will be told which areas they passed and which ones they need to revisit. Knowledge Points are acquired to level up Kromey, the page and the unit plan. As the students level up through novice, apprentice, scholar and guru, Kromey travels in a select city to better and better places, signified by area attractions or monuments. The K-Bot system is designed to give the student a secondary level of reinforcement and a sense of accomplishment.
The teacher will get reports of the students’ knowledge levels in each module and identify areas of deficiency. This is very brief description of KP ARMS and the K-Bots. To see a detailed description, please click here.
The birth of a conference challenge
KP has been working on a new system of assessing knowledge. When ACTE mentioned that they wanted to bring more technology to the conference, we jumped in with the idea of challenging its members with a competition on the new learning system. ACTE and KP worked together to create a unique challenge for the conference attendees. This is how we did it.
Six months prior to the conference, KP completed the KP ARMS. Two months prior, KP finalized the algorithm and began a series of beta testing. During this time ACTE defined 5 learning modules, each containing on average 5 topics. The information was gathered from various existing sources as Catherine Impertore and Jonathan Miller wrote nine challenging questions for each topic.
Once all the information was assembled, KP imported it into KP Compass and brought the server online over the course of two days to start testing. One week prior to going live, finishing touches were made to give online instructions for ACTE users since this was not in a controlled classroom environment.
With this part of the process done, it was now just sit and wait. We didn’t know how many teachers would enter and go through the experience. If the participation is successful, we will roll this out on a national scale and create competitions between regions and states.
The system went live on preconference day, Wednesday. On Thursday after the announcement of the contest, over 100 people signed into the system, but only a few ventured out to take the test and play the game. Ray Munoz took a commanding lead of 2000 Knowledge points by the end of the night. I was fearful that his lead would discourage others to try since the majority of participants showed under 200 points.
By Friday morning, I witnessed a complete change in the standings. Four others took the lead with 5000 points, and the race got heated throughout the day as new participants decided to challenge the leader and rapidly moved up the ranks. When Friday night hit, things slowed down and settled around 8000 points with Andy Williams in the lead. I noticed throughout the night as people crept up to Andy’s position that he would jump ahead to maintain his lead over the challengers.
As we drew closer to the closing general session the 2nd through 5th place standings kept changing throughout the morning as Conference attendees contended for 2nd place. It was heated all the way through the keynote speaker. I announced the winners after Eric Chester performed his final act and Jim Comer rapped his gavel, officially closing the 2011 ACTE annual convention. In the end, over 150 people signed in and looked over the content, 75 participated in the mastery system and 15 made it past level 5. The top 10 took the tests an average of 30 times, gaining over 92,000 Knowledge Points.
One piece that teachers didn't see is the Teacher Dashboard. If you would like to see the results from that vantage point, please contact me.
The Future of KP Compass
The exercise we went through with ACTE has proven two things. First, with KP Compass’s framework, it is very easy to create a knowledge challenge for just about any organization. Secondly, participants who actually use it benefit from the remediation and mastery system and gain knowledge of the organization. I can already envision using this system to help promote organizations such as FCCLA, DECA, SkillsUSA as well as state and regional organizations. National competitions can be created with state and region rankings as compared to the individual level as demonstrated at this conference. In the near future, we may open up a new division that handles nothing but SRO and non profits… but that is still a under development.
I am personally excited to see the results and to hear feedback from users. I can use this knowledge as we expand our technology into other markets with publishers, vendors and individual teachers through our LMS, KP Compass.
Founder & President
KP Education Systems
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
See a video demonstration of the ACTEMobile site.
Visit the ACTE Event site at kpacte.com
At the same time, KP is launching its new “cloud- based” Learning Management System (LMS) called KP Compass. KP Compass empowers students with an individualized personal learning environment designed to provide an enriching learning experience through unique KP technology. This new approach to content delivery and mastery, called the KP Automatic Remediation and Mastery System (KP ARMS), takes curriculum concepts, which can easily be changed and rearranged by the teacher, and asses student knowledge using a test that is automatically generated based on the content presented. This smart system knows which concepts the students have missed and which ones they have mastered. Students will be remediated with only the concepts they’ve missed. When they are finished, they will gain Knowledge Points and be presented with a mastery level, which they can improve on subsequent tests. Teachers will see reports of the students’ growth throughout the unit so that they can address any areas of need.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Culinary Arts Online: “a success story”
Using technology to facilitate distance learning is not a new concept. Culinary arts, a hands-on career and technical education field may seem to be a different story but does not necessarily need to be so to enable students to learn practical skills for a trade, career advancement and potential for further degree attainment.
Scottsdale Community College has proven through effective use of technology using Sous Chef and KP Compass combined with designed curriculum that culinary arts can be taught online to provide an opportunity for students to obtain a certificate of completion while enabling those that are outside the usual student profile to go forward with a degree. SCC students receive the instruction on the necessary skills through computer access and produce products required to show skills established.
By adopting an online model of instruction, schools can now provide an opportunity for students who otherwise would not have access due to time or geographical constraints to learn culinary arts. The direct result of this for SCC was a significant increase in their Full-Time Student Equivalent (FTSE).
KP Culinary Arts with KP Compass enables post-secondary institutions to create online and hybrid classes for trades-orientated curricula. Students in this hybrid model come to class with the base skills in place and ready to refine their skills because they review content assigned by the instructor, complete assignments and take tests outside of class. Instructors then used their instructional time in the online classroom to take the student to a higher knowledge level and address any additional refinements.
Can Culinary Arts Be Taught Online?
Yes it Can! A School Success Story.
Using technology to facilitate distance learning is not a new concept. Since the early 80s, learning over the computer has been the solution for students who lived in isolate, rural areas with limited educational resources. Academic subjects such as science, math and language can easily be taught through a computer-based medium.
For culinary arts, a hands-on career and technical education field, it is a different story. Students are learning practical skills for a trade and they need to practice those techniques, often under the supervision of a master craftsperson. In CTE fields, learners can’t just read about a subject and master it; they have to be shown the skills by a teacher. Technology has augmented education over the years and it has application even in a hands-on CTE subject.
Scottsdale Community College (SCC), located in Scottsdale, AZ, has proven, through effective use of technology and a very thorough curriculum, that culinary arts can be taught online. SCC students received the instruction on the necessary skills at home or in a computer lab.
For the past three years, SCC has been piloting KP Culinary Arts Online for their culinary arts courses. Using the Sous Chef and KP Compass, instructors designed courses that fit their 101-104 class structure. The digital “books” were custom created to fit the needs of the institution with text, video, activities, and tests.
Karen Chalmers, Program Director for Culinary Arts at SCC envisioned classes without borders. "By adopting an online model of instruction, we can now provide an opportunity for students who otherwise would not have access due to time or geographical constraints to learn culinary arts. The direct result of this for SCC was a significant increase in our Full-Time Student Equivalent (FTSE).
KP Culinary Arts with KP Compass enables post-secondary institutions to create online and hybrid classes for trades-orientated curricula. Students in this hybrid model come to class with the base skills in place and ready to refine their skills because they review content assigned by the instructor, complete assignments and take tests outside of class. Instructors then used their instructional time in the classroom to take the student to a higher knowledge level and address any additional refinements.
Upon completing a module, the students will know which concepts they have mastered and which areas they need to work on to gain the next level of mastery. The program can be used by any device with a web browser, such as laptops, iPads and smart phones.
“Access is key. Providing access through technology increases the pace of skills development and helps teachers focus on taking students to the next level of understanding. The precious time instructors have with their students can be used to create those key aha moments rather than to address material that students can and should learn on their own,” said Nai Wang, founder and president of KP Education Systems.
Monday, May 9, 2011
KP Education Systems (KP) Signs Deal with American Technical Publishers (ATP)
Phoenix, Arizona – May 3, 2011 – In the form of an alliance, KP and ATP will be focusing their efforts to create online digital content for ATP’s publications.
For the past year, ATP has been looking at various ways to bring their publications to the digital age with online tools. With Compass, KP’s new online delivery vehicle, ATP can quickly and easily build online modules for their titles.
“This alliance represents a synergy between our two companies. We at KP have our heart in career and technical education (CTE) and it was just a natural fit to bring our technology to ATP,” says Nai Wang, founder and president of KP Education Systems.
ATP carries over 70 titles in “the trades” education, and they have a stellar reputation for quality and technical accuracy. With an over 100-year tradition, ATP’s publications have been used to train the American labor force. In addition, ATP has demonstrated their devotion to modern and sustainable practices by recently completing a gold certified LEED headquarters building outside of Chicago. By applying what they have learned from their technical experience, ATP has invested in their future and the future of their community. The best practices were incorporated not only in the building’s design, but also in the very curriculum that they publish for their clients on sustainable construction. The building is quite literally a shining example of Knowledge in Practice.
KP developed the nation’s leading multimedia curriculum for culinary arts. KP Culinary Arts (known as the Sous Chef) was a groundbreaking piece of software in 1999. By starting with the intent to go purely digital, KP has continuously grown in the digital frontier and remained leaders by heavily reinvesting in technology. KP has innovated technologies specific to career and technical education that help students to be engaged and invested in their learning. The end result has been KP Compass, an online system that is easy-to use, allowing students to learn technical skills faster while prompting them to achieve mastery in their chosen field.
Technology is a key component to nearly every facet of education, but it is especially practical in CTE. As students prepare to enter the workforce, they demand an educational environment rich in technology that mirrors the real world. As KP and ATP move forward with their alliance, they intend to carry out this vision. “It is imperative that digital curriculum is carefully designed. We need to create multi-dimensional learning environments to satisfy for our rapidly evolving 21st century learner. Anything short of that is a disservice to our youth” said Nai Wang. With ATP’s wealth of expertly authored content and KP’s innovative approach to digital learning, the future looks bright not only for both companies, but also the skilled workforce of America.