Why 1+1 is More Than 2: Layering Digital Content in Math
In the world of digital content, there are a staggering number of choices. In our work with districts, we help them navigate the education technology landscape and make the right choices to meet their students’ needs. As we guide our schools, we find that it is common to use several products to support blended models and help teachers differentiate instruction. In fact, this is what we recommend.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Let’s say a school is using only one digital content provider for math instruction. They would still pair it with an offline curriculum in order to meet students’ needs. This is similar to layering multiple digital content products together. The concept of layering raises student engagement and reduces content fatigue. Using multiple providers also allows students benefit from a broader range of pedagogical approaches.
A great example of this is using both Dreambox and i-Ready for elementary math. In this scenario students might alternate Dreambox and i-Ready Monday through Thursday, spending about 20 minutes each day with each provider. DreamBox is a highly adaptive, individualized math program that provides scaffolded practice and instruction for discrete skills. i-Ready creates unique learning paths for each student using an adaptive diagnostic test. Used together as a supplement to direct instruction, they create a more complete and effective blended learning environment that allows for better differentiated instruction and higher engagement.
While it may seem like using both Dreambox and i-Ready would be redundant, they are actually complementary to one another. These two are not the only providers that are complementary to each other. There are hundreds of ways to layer different products to create a powerful classroom experience. This is one of the things we look for when we partner with digital content providers. Not only do we want high quality instruction, but we also look at how they can be layered together to create a more holistic solution for our schools.
Let’s look at another example. Ten Marks supports classroom instruction with short, modular assignments and personalized playlists. It has “amplifiers” that provide students with additional practice or tutoring if they are stuck. ST Math takes a highly visual approach and helps students to solve problems in a way that builds conceptual understanding. While the interface looks “game-based” many schools find that it makes complex mathematical concepts accessible and engaging for all students. Layering these two together provides students with different ways to learn how to approach and solve the same concepts. A school might use ST Math every other day, alongside a provider like Compass Learning which uses a mix of direct instruction, guided practice and interactives to teaching math and then add Ten Marks as practice whenever students need it.
Using multiple digital content providers does add another level of complexity to the classroom that some teachers find concerning (more data to analyze, more products to learn, more issues to manage). However, this is where our personalized learning platform, Highlight, brings it all together. Highlight allows teachers to use multiple digital content providers to introduce new pedagogical approaches to students, and meet their diverse sets of needs - all in one place and with just one click. We truly believe that thoughtful layering of digital content will lead to better outcomes and make it our mission to make it as easy as possible for our schools to do so.
Have questions about math content or layering? Email Kawai Lai (email@example.com) and she would be happy to answer them! Want an early invite to our new digital content selection tool that would help you make decisions like the ones above? Email Jane Bryson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.