Edtech in Ireland taking off with one in five schools using adaptive learning

5 Sep 2017

A student and teacher using adaptive learning in the classroom. Image: Select PR

Edtech flourishes in Ireland as one in five schools are now using adaptive learning.

There was a time when there was a limit to what teachers and educators could do in order to ensure all of their students were learning effectively, but edtech tools are having a transformative effect on Irish classrooms, according to a new report.

The Learning Effectiveness Report was issued by Adaptemy, an Irish start-up whose adaptive learning technology is being used with great results by educational publisher Folens. The publisher and Adaptemy teamed up to create Build Up, an online learning tool for Junior Certificate and Transition Year maths courses.

Students and technology improving together

In the 2016 school year, close to 1m maths exercises were completed using Build Up, used once a week in class and three times for homework support on average.

Adaptemy brings the innovation of AI to the classroom, with students improving on average by 12.4pc with each lesson revision – a 4.1pc jump on last year – demonstrating not only that the students are improving, but Build Up is also figuring out how to adapt the coursework delivery to be more effective.

Adaptemy CEO Conor O’Sullivan succinctly explained the advantages of Build Up for educators: “Teachers can see in real time where their students are having difficulty, allowing them to dedicate time to those that need it most, thus making even the largest class more manageable.”

Andrew Miller, CEO of Folens, said: “Technology is already omnipresent in today’s students’ lives. By bringing technology into the classroom, we are helping develop their skills for the future.

“The 2016 Learning Effectiveness Report clearly demonstrates the positive impact educational technology is having on students’ learning experiences.”

‘You build up their confidence, you make sure they’re having little success moments all the time, then you bring them forward’

Adaptemy’s founders are COO Conor Flynn (left) and CEO Conor O’Sullivan. Image: Select PR

From left: Adaptemy founders Conor Flynn (COO) and Conor O’Sullivan (CEO). Image: Select PR

The personalised aspect of adaptive learning is a great support to both the teacher and the student, according to the COO of Adaptemy, Conor Flynn.

He explained how the technology can encourage students at all aptitude levels to Siliconrepublic.com, emphasising how Build Up can offer little victories that can boost learner confidence: “The big problem is that if you’re frustrated and you don’t want to put up your hand to ask a question, once you start to fall behind, you start to get frustrated and fall further and further.

“This is all around what they call mastery or competence learning: you go back to the level of each student and you build up their confidence, you make sure they’re having little success moments all the time, then you bring them forward. So that really helps inclusion or differentiation.”

Global expansion on the cards

Flynn explained that the technology was aiding teachers in bringing students of varying levels of knowledge and ability up to speed, and, crucially, this was taking place at each student’s own pace.

This issue is a global one according to Flynn, and Adaptemy is set to partner with publishers in Slovakia and Mexico, among others.

A student working on Adaptemy’s system. Image: Select PR

A student working on Adaptemy’s system. Image: Select PR

Adaptemy’s growth plan has two phases: the first is to expand with different publishing partners all over the world, and the next is to expand the types of learning solutions that the company can offer.

At present, Flynn describes the current solution as “kind of a digital workbook that gives personal feedback to the student and tells them what to do, used alongside existing teaching practices, but we’re looking to do more comprehensive solutions”.

With AI technology constantly evolving, the way students will learn and succeed will change, too, and this will hopefully instil a sense of confidence in learners who would have previously approached subjects with considerable nervousness.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects