EdTech Tool Crowdsources from Teachers to Enhance Math Instruction

May 15, 2020

Did you know that much of ASSISTments’s wide array of curricular material for mathematics is sourced from free and open content known as Open Educational Resources? We love the movement to support student learning by increasing accessibility to high-quality materials. Another way we provide current and effective math learning material is through teacher crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing lets us both support and engage teachers, helping them collaborate and improve available content, much like Wikipedia for educators. 

Let’s think about how Wikipedia engages excited learners across the country. As a free and open source for information, experts and enthusiasts are able to write articles that can be shared widely. Wikipedia writers come from all walks of life and each offer their unique knowledge to the content on the platform. Because of this diverse sourcing, Wikipedia is able to provide its readers extensive content from every subject. 

This crowdsourcing model provides a dual benefit. Writers have the privilege of sharing their expertise with the world. Since Wikipedia is a free service, many writers feel excited by the opportunity to make a contribution to a library of content that is free and helps educate people around the world. Additionally, readers are able to access a comprehensive digital encyclopedia. 

ASSISTments, too, is built to support crowdsourcing from and for the benefit of educators. We leverage our platform to source content, ideas and insights from the educational community in order to support math education for all who use ASSISTments. 

Teacher crowdsourcing with fellow teachers

We are creating tools to allow teachers to author their own feedback for any problem on the platform that will be made available to the entire teacher community. The feedback can be created either in text or video format. That way, a teacher in Arkansas can make a stellar video that can be shared by a Wisconsin teacher with her class. 

As a teacher, you may spend years developing and honing resources that help your students succeed. Through this crowdsourcing model, you can leverage and share effective resources for the content you’re already using in class with fellow teachers. 

The ASSISTments Project at WPI is funded by the Office of Naval Research to develop ASSISTments features that help teachers provide personalized feedback to students quickly and easily. The first step in creating the tool will be crowdsourcing actual teachers’ comments that can be used as a training set for machine learning. This project will rely on cutting-edge AI to suggest responses for teachers to send to their students. It will work in a manner similar to Google Smart Reply, which provides Gmail users with three suggested responses they can send without having to craft their own message. 

These projects both rely heavily on teacher crowdsourcing to support math instruction across the country. By highlighting teachers’ best explanations and teaching tips, crowdsourcing allows more students to benefit. 

Crowdsourcing to improve our platform

Finally, ASSISTments crowdsources from our community of teachers, EdTech developers and consumers to improve our platform. It is our teachers who use ASSISTments, and we recognize that they can offer lots of helpful feedback on what can be added to the tool to support them in the classroom.

ASSISTments has been developed over nearly two decades with user input in mind from the very beginning. The tool was first created in collaboration with teachers around Massachusetts, who provided recommendations about features for the tool. ASSISTments users also provided suggestions about the most widely used content that could be built into the platform. 

We continue to make the most of EdTech consumer feedback to keep our tool up to date. After conducting usability surveys of teachers in the summer of 2019, we have initiated a series of updates to our platform. A recent example is that we are building a feature into 2.0 that we call “student choice.” This feature allows students to answer questions in whatever order they prefer. By seeking frequent feedback and input from the ASSISTments and EdTech communities, we are able to build a platform that will truly meet the needs of students and teachers.  

We are passionate about using crowdsourcing to make ASSISTments the most effective tool it can be. Much like Wikipedia, we crowdsource content from teachers across the country and use crowdsourcing to ensure our platform is developed with cutting-edge features to support teaching and learning.

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