Math Product Tackles Adaptive Learning With Sensors

Math Product Tackles Adaptive Learning With Sensors

MATH WITH A SIDE OF EQ: The brave folks from SMARTeacher recently appeared on Dragon's Den, the Canadian equivalent of popular VC-reality show, Shark Tank, to raise cash for their RPG-style math game, Prodigy. The adaptive learning product employs a magicians-versus-monsters story line and Manga-like cartoons to usher students through over 250 math topics. Concepts are partially aligned with Ontario Mathematics Curriculum for grades 1 through 5 and Common Core State Standards for grades 1 through 3.

The founders escaped the Dragon's Den with zero cash-in-hand, but the publicity drew our attention to an innovative use of emerging technology: Using wireless, bio-sensor wristbands, SMARTeacher aims to capture "emotional data." It blends this with data collected from game play and consequently "adapts" content. In short, they want their algorithm to account for how bored, excited, frustrated, or engaged young learners feel.

Using tech to gauge students' emotional state may be a helpful approach for less experienced teachers who may not pick up their students' emotional cues. Still, SMARTeacher's proposition is tricky: adding straps and sensors to an increasingly wired classroom seems like just another step away from human-centered, collaborative learning.

The "emotion-sensing" bracelets hit shelves in early 2013, but teachers can enjoy a free classroom account for Prodigy now.

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