By Jennie Rose
Alleyoop, the online college prep tutoring site created by Pearson, has added a group of new STEM-focused partners to its offerings. In addition to its current math programs, Alleyoop has added NASA eClips, National Geographic, Scientific Minds, Patrick JMT, Virtual Nerd, Adaptive Curriculum and Brightstorm.
Alleyoop uses the "gamification" model for its curriculum, which is targeted at middle- and high-school students. The site features real-time tutors, instructional videos, and a system described as "personalized, iterative, and adaptive," according to an Atlantic article.
With these new additions, students who use Alleyoop will have access to NASA eClips, a video library showing STEM-related careers and applications for science and engineering concepts; videos from National Geographic that are aligned to STEM topics, such as animal behavior and chemistry; National Science Foundation's Science360 app, a source for science news, as well as a series of video interviews of scientists and engineers on the field.
Other partners in Alleyoop's online curriculum offerings include Brightstorm, video lessons created by teachers covering biology, chemistry and physics; Adaptive Curriculum, featuring interactive scenarios that give students context for science lessons across the board; Patrick JMT, video activities including geometry, trigonometry to statistics and probability; Scientific Minds, quizzes and interactive biology flashcards; and Virtual Nerd, interactive whiteboard tutorials in math and physics.
The site, which has more than 30,000 beta users, was designed to be used outside school, unlike other tutoring sites, like Civitas Learning. Alleyoop users earn ‘Yoops’ for the work they do on the site, and can put those earned points towards different activities. For $12 a month, a user can gain access to premium content, such as guidance help or career advice.
HOW IT WORKS
Based on the user's grade -- between 7th and 12th grade, Alleyoop recommends activities that challenge different skill levels. From the outset, the “Learner DNA” module begins profiling the type of learner—kinesthetic, visual or auditory—while the “Super Brain” engine pushes content and activities that are most effective for specific learning styles, even predicting academic areas where kids could use more practice.
Given the conditions in cash-strapped schools, Patrick Supanc, president of Alleyoop says he believes that the adaptive model created for out-of-classroom learning can also help students in school.
“What if you could just pull out your iPod Touch or phone, pin an issue you’re having with some material at school, and then when you get home, log in, and have a recommendation waiting for you to follow up on that material?” he said.
Roger Dawley, a 15-year-old sophomore at Scituate High School in Massachussetts who uses Alleyoop, appreciates the performance feedback. But he especially likes approaching classroom material at his own pace, and finds it easier to revisit the material than to ask his teacher. Dawley uses Alleyoop largely to review classroom curriculum that he didn’t understand. “It’s easier to re-watch videos of the parts that you didn’t get instead of having to deal with someone,” he says.
By the same token, Dawley wishes the Alleyoop interface offered an instant chat feature to query if he's struggling.