Wednesday, March 7, 2012

KP Compass 7 Success Stories: One year of pioneering online mastery

KP Compass has been live for just over a year now.  Born from over ten years of experience creating the next digital textbook for culinary arts as a software solution, KP Compass achieves the company's dream of putting digital content with a next generation mastery system in the palms of the students' hands.  KP Compass is used in over 100 institutions. Here are a few success stories we've gathered from these early pioneers as they learn how to use this new method of reaching students that goes above and beyond the simple e-book/iBook.

Job Corps Centers FTW

At the Potomac Job Corps Center, Chef William "Tee" Danley teaches a different set of youth than your standard public school.  They come in at different times and he has to teach the entire lot of them according to when they entered.  He took KP Compass's Culinary Arts curriculum and aligned the modules to the Job Corps National Standard (called TAR) and created 11 open entry modules. Students are required to complete each module before they can move on to the next.

From day one, the students became engaged with the system.  Chef Tee's first problem was that he didn't have enough computers to satisfy the students in class or in their dorms.  Seeing immediate results from the system, he realized that students were completing the modules at an accelerated rate of up to 200%, which made them more knowledgeable and gave them more time for labs.  He says, "This is the most amazing program I've seen in my entire 20-year teaching career and it has truly transformed my class into what I want it to be, a dynamic and engaging system that grabs my student's attention."

If you have ever been to a Job Corps Center, you know that teaching these kids out of a book is tough. Chef Tee found that using computers and having students compete in the mastery system really drives their spirit of competition.  He makes full use of the built-in leader board because it takes advantage of their competitive natures.  "I've never seen my students this wrapped up in book learning and now they come to class understanding what they are doing rather than just going through the motions.  The best part is the access to the videos. I rarely need to show them what to do. They already know it!"

Chef Tee has had incredible success with KP Compass.  Feel free to contact me and I will share his contact information with you so you can hear it for yourself.

Charter School Success

Chef Aaron Link teaches at Vista Academy, a new charter school in Denver, Colorado.  When Aaron first called wanting some online videos, he found out about KP Compass and how it goes beyond just offering videos with a few simple quiz questions online.  He immediately noticed how the leveling system fits the model at his school by assessing levels of knowledge rather than assigning letter grades. He teaches youth on a variety of levels and loves how he can customize the content, even individualizing the instruction for a single student to help him/her through the class.  This is the level of care and attention to detail that makes Aaron's program one of the finest in the region.

Watch Aaron talk about his experience in this short 3 minute video.

High Schools with Video Testimonials

NW Career and Technical Academy is nestled in the far outskirts of Clark County in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This multi-million dollar career center was built with technology in mind.  When they adopted the Sous Chef, it became an incredible in-class resource for the students and instructors.  Clark County had visions of going one-to-one using mobile technology, and KP Compass gave them the opportunity to put the Sous Chef content and videos directly in the hands of the students.

But don't take my word for it.  Watch these videos and hear what they have to say.

Michael Pitman, Dept Chair

Shannon Kelly-Smith, Freshmen and Sophomores

Brenda Hitchins, Baking and Pastry

And from the students themselves!

Overcoming the Computer Hurdle

Chef Henry, from Roanoke Public Schools, admits he doesn't use computers much at all and the prospect of having to use an online system would not be his first choice for an instructional aid.  Chef Henry worked at CIA for 20 years and just entered into education in the past year.  He wanted a way to engage his students, which textbooks weren't doing, so he turned to KP Compass.

Despite the slight learning curve, Chef Henry learned how to use the system and got his students online in less than a week.  He saw immediate changes in student engagement with the content and got valuable feedback from the mastery system.  He admits that the online system will change the way he teaches, and he is willing to make these adjustments because of the positive student response.

Jack on Leveling and Aprons

Jack Aldrich has always had a dynamic class at Huot Technical Center.  Jack deals with many youths who are unmotivated in the school system.  He devised a way to encourage student participation and drive competition with a system of colored aprons that shows what "level" each student is in the class.  Students get higher level aprons by completing paper quizzes.  If they do poorly on a quiz, they will have the opportunity take it again to gain that level of achievement.  In their final year, if they make the grade they will receive their very own chef's coat.

When Jack saw KP Compass' leveling system, he was amazed by how similar it was to his own classroom motivational practices. Using KP's Automatic Remediation and Mastery System, Jack no longer needs to print out paper tests and manually enter scores into a spreadsheet.  The system not only allows for students to take quizzes online but because of the mastery system, they rarely get the same questions in a row.  The students have embraced this new format and have become even more engaged in his class.  Jack takes full advantage of KP ARMS and the leader board.

Michael Riggs at a College

Chef Michael Riggs, at Bowling Green Technical College in Kentucky, has always been a pioneer in instructional technology.  He started implementing digital resources using the Sous Chef back in 2004, and technology is an integral part of his growing program.  When KP Compass became available in the fall of 2011, he first tested the new system with one class to see how his students would react to online instead of using computers in the classroom.  The results have been very positive.

Chef Riggs customized the modules to his course and had his students purchase KP Compass instead of a textbook for use at home.  He picked out the learning modules related to his Garde Manger class and further customized them with additional information.  When the students log in, they know what they are expected to learn for the semester and they test themselves in the mastery system prior to coming to class.  He made it a mandatory exercise to achieve at least Apprentice level to gain class participation for the work done.  He has also seen improvements in the students' research and writing skills by having the digital assets online.  As a result, his students now come to class ready to discuss topics and perform skills.  KP Compass has really maximized his time in the kitchen and labs.

Now going into the Spring semester, he has fully implemented KP Compass in all five of his college courses.  Next year, they are looking at ways to implement the Kindle Fire or similar tablets to completely eliminate textbooks in his program.

Rick Teaching Teachers

Chef Rick Martinez teaches a different set of students.  At Middle Tennessee University he is in charge of getting teachers ready to teach culinary arts through two semester-long courses.  His students are all adult learners who intend to become educators.  He has to teach a lot of information in a very short time frame.  He found KP Compass and loved how the content could be molded to fit his two classes.  Once the course was customized, his students purchased the "books" from KP and used them to study before meeting once a week.

As the semester progressed, Rick noticed that his students were more engaged and ready to go into labs, saving him a lot of instructional time.  The mastery system allows him to check on their progress through the learning modules and see how prepared they are for the final exam.  Since the class is still in action, we will ask at the end of the semester if they preferred KP Compass over the textbook / lecture style of teaching.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Concept Driven Mastery: beyond the textbook, ebook, iBook 2… Essay

By Nai Wang - Founder and President

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

KP Supports CTE Month Knowledge Challenge Contest with ACTE

KP Education Systems is launching a nationwide knowledge challenge in partnership with The Association of Career & Technical Education (ACTE) on our concept-driven mastery system, KP Compass. During the month of February, KP will be hosting this event to help foster growth in the association’s membership through our online learning platform.

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 or

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.
Take a trip with Kromey, the roaming Kromey!
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.