Sunday, November 20, 2011

ACTE Knowledge Challenge results are in and they are incredible!

By: Nai Wang

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.

Conference results

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.

Nai Wang
Founder & President
KP Education Systems


  1. Even though I did not win the challenge, I was amazed at how much I learned by joining in on the competition! By Saturday, I recognized names as they were mentioned during the closing ceremonies -- just a couple of days before, I didn't know much of anything about ACTE.

    This is a great tool. I am looking forward to seeing how many applications you find for it, KP!

    Thank you for adding some excitement to the conference.

    Greta Riffle
    Math IV Instructor
    Cass Career Center
    Harrisonville, MO

  2. After being near the top for most of conference, I ended up placing in the top 18. :-(

    The quiz software was very user friendly and enjoyable to use. I found myself trying to increase my score which encouraged me to go back into the text, read the material over and retest. This would be AWESOME in the classroom.

    One critique- Should the "next" button be at the bottom of the page instead of at the top? One would have to read the whole page, then flip the screen to get back to the top. If done on purpose- fine. If not, can you move it to the bottom.

    One suggestion- for those students with reading difficulties and ELL students, can you have a Kromey Character read the text to the students? This text to speech reader would be a great help for this population. It would also make available another modality for our students.

  3. Greta,
    Thank you for your comments. It is new, experimental and it did what we wanted it to do, which was get you to remember facts you would never have before! I'm extremely glad the system is such a great success!

  4. Rob,
    Sorry you got passed by. It was interesting to watch the wave of teachers moving past you like watching a marathon. It was quite exciting from my vantage point. Thanks for the AWESOME feedback! I'm a video gamer and want to bring these exciting elements into the classroom. The current stock of game theories in education I've seen have been cheesy and doesn't resonate with our students. I hope that our system transcends that and will become the way we reach all students.

    Thanks for the next button suggestion. I will add it next week. As for the ELL students, you may want to check with your district and see if they have a TTS license. Many school systems do but don't realize it. Since it's web based, any TTS can be used with our system to read aloud.

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