When we build a new course, we start with the standards. The standards (we now use the Common Core State Standards) lay out the subject matter for our course. Once we understand the standards (and believe me, that it not always easy), we then try to lay out the course in such a way that we can most effectively communicate the subjects covered by those standards. Then we apply the principals of communication to present those subject. The principals of communication that we use are:
If you have ever read the Common Core State Standards or state standards for Language Arts or Math, you will know that they are not an easy read. Translating this "academic speak" into plain English and then into instruction that make sense to kids is not easy, but that is what we do and it is what teachers do. Then we try to make our lessons concise so that we concentrate on the most important concepts that can be taught effectively with our platform: interactive multimedia software. Some of the content of the standards is best taught by live instructors and some content can be ideal for our platform and it will work as a great supplement to the instructor. We get to creatively present the material pictures, sound, animations, games and interactivity. Teachers don't normally have the skills or the time to do what we do. We spend hours preparing great lessons so that instructors can spend more of their time directly with the students.
Keeping students engaged and involved in the lessons is a real challenge. We find that most kids are engaged by almost anything that is on a computer. By adding voices, characters, songs, animations, games and interactivity, we can present lessons that have a better chance of keeping the student involved. If you can't get the student’s attention, then you have little chance of presenting information that they will absorb. When you creatively capture and maintain their attention, you have a very good chance that they will remember the lesson and will be better prepared for the next lesson.
Students are humans and humans like to know that we are making progress. We humans like to be rewarded and praised when we achieve a goal. We like to have another chance when we fail so that we can keep trying and trying until we succeed. Our Super Star Motivational and Tracking System is a simple system that gives the student a silver or gold star for succeeding. All of these stars are presented on the Super Star page. It is a simple but very effective system. We also use positive vocal reinforcement and offer a printable certficate of achievement. We then create reports for the instructor that shows the progress of the student.
These three principals of communication are the foundation of our products. I did not create these principals; I learned about effective communications from an organization that I belong to called Toastmasters International. In Toastmasters, we strive for effective communication with speeches that are consise and engaging. We win ribbons and receive rewards. Toastmasters provides a mutually supportive and positive learning environment. I believe that Toastmasters training can be very beneficial to administrators, teachers, parents, students or almost anyone. I suggest that you visit a Toastmasters meeting in your home town.