What's Different



What’s different about iLearn Math?

We’re asked that question all the time. To answer that, we should start by pointing out what’s the same about iLearn and other programs.

  • We cover all the content students need in a developmental math sequence.
  • We provide extensive practice with immediate feedback.
  • Students must meet rigorous mastery standards.
  • We provide extensive diagnostics to determine needs. (only one other program does this)
  • We have extensive reports that make it easy for the instructor to manage the process.

So what’s different?

We do something no one else has even conceived of. We make it much easier for students to learn. In the process, we transform the learning process from one filled with frustration and resistance to one filled with success and motivation. This is not an empty claim. It’s supported by data.

Error Prevention vs. Error Correction

The key to making it easier to learn is reducing the rate of errors. This may seem trivially obvious, but actually doing it is an entirely different matter. Errors are the enemy of success. In fact, failure is just the accumulation of too many errors. Errors are not “neutral events.” They have two very powerful negative impacts:

  1. they slow down learning and
  2. they frustrate, demoralize, and demotivate students.

Other products try to correct errors, but do nothing to help the student avoid errors. Others tout the fact that they use an approach called “error correction.” This means they wait for errors to occur, then provide what they call “corrective feedback.” However, there is little evidence that this process actually helps to “correct” errors. If it does help, it comes at a very high cost. The problem is that once an error occurs, the damage is done. Students usually “tune out” at that point. Errors continue at a high rate, even when the “feedback” is “specific to the error.”

The iLearn Math approach is very different. It’s called Optimized and it’s based on the use of multiple “error prevention” strategies built into the design of the instructional process. We anticipate the kinds of errors students make, and then build an instructional process that prevents students from developing these erroneous thought patterns. The result is that students make dramatically fewer errors as they learn the math content.

The Negative Impact of Errors in Current Practice

There are several deficiencies in the other programs that have a detrimental impact. First, every other product lets students start working “practice” or “homework” problems without adequate preparation. The result is that students make errors at a very high rate. This “trial and error” approach results in far more errors than anything else.

The frustration students feel from this process motivates them in the wrong way to do the wrong things. A high percentage of students focus on trying to “beat the system,” by what would be called “cheating” if it occurred in class. Mimicking answers from examples given as they work a problem is a well-known “gimmick” to “beat the system.” Finding creative ways to copy answers is another. Students invest time and energy trying to find ways not to have to learn . They’d rather try just about anything to “meet the requirements” without having to learn anything. The result of this situation is consistently reported by those who use these other products. Students meet the requirements in the program, but cannot pass the mastery test given by the instructor. A high percentage of students then take the mastery test over and over again, trying to pass. Many instructors report students taking a test as many as 15-20 times before they eventually pass. This is not evidence of real learning, it’s about “meeting the requirement.” There is little likelihood that students understand what they have “learned.” What is overlooked is that students consistently have a very high rate of errors. That’s why they fail. That’s also the main reason why they avoid trying to learn.

This counterproductive mindset is widespread but to date, no other software provider has provided an adequate solution . If you use one of these programs, it’s probably a good idea to ask the provider to give you data on the overall percent correct for students during practice and test activities. The data will probably surprise you - if you can get them.

The good news is that this counterproductive mindset is not inevitable . It can be changed. The real difference between iLearn Math and these other programs is that we take a completely different approach to the learning process that changes this scenario. Students become much more focused on productive activity than unproductive activity . Instructors see the powerful impact in working with students.

Optimizing Learning

A key element of this approach to changing students’ focus is that we do far more to make sure every student first understands the math that is taught. Then, and only then, do we allow them to start solving practice problems. We require that students complete instruction and demonstrate understanding of the concepts. They simply can’t avoid this requirement because of the way the program is designed.

When we deliver instruction, we don’t do it with “talking head” videos of lectures, and we don’t have students read text on screen. We use state-of-the art multimedia designs that are built on rigorous scientific research on how to communicate information effectively and efficiently to students. They combine graphics, animation and narration to illustrate and represent math concepts in a way that makes them more engaging and much easier to understand. This delivery format takes advantage of the latest knowledge about facilitating cognitive processing of information.

So, in summary, what’s different about iLearn Math? In short, it’s the way we transform the learning experience. We make it easier for students to learn.

The expertise of iLearn is in designing and delivering instruction in ways that deliver on this claim.

“With iLearn Math, my students now see me as a partner in their success instead of an adversary.” -VK Bussen, Instructor, Clovis Community College