Three Reasons Your Use of Ed-Tech May Have Failed … and How to Fix It!

AA053438There are many factors that go into the successful implementation of an educational software product, according to a recently published study. The study’s authors looked at the impact of state-of- the-art technology tools used in higher education classes.

They focused on the following issues:

1) Strategy. It is important to note that educators use the same educational software programs in a variety of ways. It is a mistake to think one strategy works for everyone. And, some strategies do not work at all, as shown in the next paragraph. Read More

Education for the “New Majority” And how the American education system needs to readjust its priorities

The American education system needs to readjust its priorities and serve what Bill Gates, in a recent speech, called the “new majority.”

Who are the “new majority”? Students who

  • graduate from high school, but are unprepared for college
  • attend college, but do not receive a credential in six years
  • start their higher education after the age of 25 and who are the first in their family to go to college

Not only are more alternative education providers needed, says Gates, but “we also need to focus within the [education] system, and understand why technology doesn’t scale.”

Solutions, according to Gates, will emerge from a 3-pronged approach — effective personalized learning, building an evidence base of what works, and adoption of proven educational technologies.

Merit has been working on these issues for several years. Based on insights gleaned from working with K12 and college students, as well as instructors who use our software, we have learned of ways to improve how our content is created and used. As a result, we are about to launch two initiatives to help educate the “new majority.”

The first initiative is News Punch.  News Punch is based on Paragraph Punch, a popular and widely used tool for teaching writing skills.

News Punch takes links to fun and fascinating news stories and provides guided writing prompts about them.  The program helps students find evidence in texts and write about it.

New news-based writing prompts are to be released almost every week. Suggestions are welcome from users. Custom prompts can be created for any informational text or media.

Research from the Carnegie Foundation shows that writing about reading improves student reading comprehension.

News Punch is scalable: its built-in supports help students of a wide range of abilities participate in English Language Arts writing exercises.

News Punch activities can be used by both K12 and remedial college students, as well as non-U.S. learners who want to improve their English. Although further evidence is necessary, we believe work in News Punch can probably be used as a measure of college readiness.

There is a free, full-working example (no login required) on the News Punch web site.

The second initiative is syncing Merit Online programs with social media tools such as Facebook and Google Plus. This step has many potential benefits. For example, enhanced collaboration and discussion opportunities based on students’ writing.

Feel free to share comments on these issues below.

New Enhancements to Punch Writing Programs

Merit is pleased to announce new enhancements to its Punch process writing programs including Paragraph Punch, Open Punch, and Essay Punch.

Students who have completed a written work may now edit it by logging into their Online Portfolios.

The Post Published Editing tool allows users to see the current state of their work, review past versions, and print their newly updated paragraphs. The paragraph as it was initially published will be preserved both on the Published Paragraph screen, and on the Post Published Edits screen under the title “Original.”

New-Punch-Tools

The improved editing functionality has been seamlessly integrated into the software and is backwardly compatible with all previously completed written works.

Learn more about the Punch writing programs:

Starter Paragraph Punch

Paragraph Punch

Open Punch

Essay Punch

 

Merit’s New UI Changes

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.31.54 AM

Merit is pleased to announce the recent rollout of several user interface changes to its online learning platform.

Among the changes are: a flexible design, based on the dimensions of the users screen display; larger font sizes; and crisper, clearer buttons.

The new look may be seen by trying any full-working demo from a Merit program’s web page.

Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students

AA053438Academic achievement by 8th grade is the largest predictor of college success according to the recent White House report “Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students.”

Merit has a strong track record of improving academic performance in elementary and middle school. The programs also help older students who have not mastered 8th level skills get on-track.

In Merit reading comprehension programs students acquire vocabulary through context, draw conlusions based on relevant information, and learn to find the main idea in a text.

Merit’s Punch writing programs help students write clear, descriptive sentences, organize ideas, and develop paragraphs and essays.

Grammar Fitness helps students with tenses, usage, irregular noun plurals, correction split constructions, and the like.

Click here to read the report “Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students”

Learn more about Merit:

How to Nurture Independent Readers

College students in a computer labThrough our work with educators we have seen several technology-based programs that emphasize phonics, fluency, and decoding but not many that focus on actual comprehension.

This is unfortunate because for students to increase comprehension skills, they need to learn to tackle, rather than avoid, grade-appropriate texts.

Read More

$5 Reading and Grammar Programs – Limited Time Offer

Woman Watching Her Daughter Use A ComputerMerit Software is offering Reading Skill Builder and Grammar Fitness for just $5 each per level (regularly $27 – save 70%). Offer expires Friday, December 16, 2011 at 5:00pm EST.

For Home Users:
To take advantage of this offer, visit either the Reading Skill Builder or Grammar Fitness page, add the programs to your shopping cart, and use Promo Code 5525 at checkout.

For School/Institutional Users:
This offer is available to the first 25 schools that enroll. To get started, read more about the the limited-time offer and set up your personal consultation with a Merit Software representative.