LearnSmart Works Through Interactive InstructionBy
There is still a lot of gray area surrounding the digitization of textbooks. The costs compared to print may or may not be cheaper, the adoption of the texts may or may not be faster, and the accessibility across device platforms and for students with special considerations has not been nailed down.
LearnSmart from McGraw-Hill Higher Education may have found a way to help students around those issues that plague digital textbooks by bypassing the traditional concept of a text altogether. More of a supplemental interface to traditional or digital texts than as a typical book, digital or otherwise, LearnSmart engages student learners in personalized ways that not only help them study through knowledge testing, but help them achieve in a timely way by gearing reinforcement strategies through student confidence in the material.
In a recent press release, McGraw-Hill explained: “Students using McGraw-Hill LearnSmart have been proven to move up a full letter grade by studying smarter, not longer. With LearnSmart, students use their out-of-class study time to answer questions that are related to what they’re learning in their course. The fully digital system acts like a personal tutor, continuously assessing students’ knowledge and skills and providing personalized content and recommendations that help them master basic course concepts and retain their knowledge over time. Because LearnSmart is conveniently accessible online and via mobile apps, the technology and devices that students use every day will power a personalized, study-on-the-go experience that will give them the information and focus they need to ensure success in their courses.”
Launched in 2009 and in place in over 1200 colleges, LearnSmart served as a supplement through sixty different courses, but by next year that number of course offerings will have doubled. It allows students to be better prepared to come into class ready to engage in genuine learning, rather than simply memorizing rote information. LearnSmart creates a learning plan based on what students already know and what they are prepared to learn, creating a profile of the students’ levels of mastery prior to attempting to engage with the text.
While LearnSmart works as a fully immersed learner experience, perhaps the most exciting aspect to it is the cloud-based workflow that allows it to be accessed from mobile devices. Students can take their learning along with them without having to lug heavy print textbooks or even a laptop for e-textbook study, helping students to maximize the downtime that they find themselves with throughout the day. Down time that used to be spent checking Facebook or playing the same games can now be filled with course preparation.
“The kind of feedback we give back to students prepares them for precisely where they need to study,” said Jay Chakrapani , Vice President and General Manager of Digital Products for McGraw-Hill Higher Education, in an interview with GoodeReader, “and for areas where the student shows less proficiency it will show those concepts more often.”
The constant feedback and adjustment within the program actually helps to engage student learning in ways that print editions—and even digital textbooks—cannot provide. Once only provide in the MH program Connect, LearnSmart was getting so much individual student demand that the publisher made it available for direct purchase by students, just in time for school to reconvene this fall. While the program is available for iOS formats, MH has plans underway to make LearnSmart available on Android tablets by the end of the fall, as well as working right now on touch-friendly phone and tablet interfaces in order to reach users on all devices.