May 31st, 2013
Along with our new offering of the NWEA Formative Assessment Item Bank, MasteryConnect is pleased to announce the support of technology enhanced items. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia describes technology enhanced items as:
“Technology enhanced items (TEI) are computer delivered items that include specialized interactions for collecting response data. These include interactions and responses beyond traditional selected response or constructed response. A TEI template describes a single interaction, response data collected as a result of that interaction, and the logic applied to score the response data.”
So how does it work in MasteryConnect you ask? MasteryConnect uses the latest in QTI standards for assessment items (more on that here if you’re interested). This allows us to work with any QTI compliant item bank that is developing these new assessment types. After purchasing an item bank content provider through MasteryConnect at your school or district, teachers have access to standards-aligned items and can use them when creating new assessments in the same simple assessment creation interface. Assessments can then be delivered in the same great ways that you’re used to! On a tablet/mobile device or on a computer through a web browser! Keep in mind, TEI’s are relatively new, so the item bank providers don’t have very many TEI’s yet, but more are coming soon! Below is a screen shot of a technology enhanced item being delivered on an iPad.
While interactions with TEI’s can get much more complex such as having a student create a line, create a geometric shape, or select a block of text, the sample below shows an interaction of an item type that requires the student to order the answers by dragging and dropping.
May 10th, 2013
The MasteryConnect Common Core app now has over 700,000 downloads! We’ve listened to all the wonderful feedback that educators, parents, and students have provided and we’re excited to announce a major update. To get the update, go to the App store and hit the updates tab. If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, search for ‘MasteryConnect’ in your app store to find it.
Here are just a few of the new changes:
- A completely redesigned interface making it easier to navigate and view standards
- Search functionality – search for concepts and topics and find related standards
- Added History/Social Studies and Science and Technical standards
- More resources – check out the additional appendices and resources now right in the app
In addition to all the new features above, we’ve also updated all the standards with the new labeling conventions that were recently released by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. To learn more about this change, check out this handy MasteryConnect CCSS Renaming Guide.
The update is only available on Apple devices for now, but we’ll soon be rolling these changes for Android and Windows users as well. As always, Christie has created a quick video to introduce the new features of the app! Check out the 1 minute video below:
From all of us at MasteryConnect, we want to say thank you for all that you do. We recognize the many challenges you face each day and admire your commitment and willingness to make a difference. We consider it an honor to support you and wish you a wonderful week!
“What great or better gift can we offer the Republic than to teach and instruct our young.” – Cicero
Keep on Trackin’
The MasteryConnect Team
We heard you loud and clear! Many of you in the MasteryConnect community have requested the ability to take the awesomeness of GradeCam bubble sheet scanning to the iPad. We’re excited to announce the MasteryScan App powered by GradeCam is now available in the iTunes app store.
With the free MasteryScan App, teachers with a Free MasteryConnect account can scan assessments up to 10 questions, and teachers with Premium MasteryConnect accounts can scan up to 100 questions.
Imagine! Your students can take an assessment, and you can walk around and give students immediate feedback right at their own desk! Like our other time-saving scoring tools, scores captured by MasteryScan will instantly and automatically sync with your MasteryConnect account.
Click here to visit the iTunes App Store to download MasteryScan for FREE. To watch a quick demo, check out the video below:
March 18th, 2013
It’s a magical time each Spring in Austin, Texas when the education technology community gathers at the SXSWedu conference. With so many new edtech companies entering the market over the past couple of years, you can really feel the energy of the entrepreneurs and companies all working to move the needle to help teachers make gains in student achievement.
This year, Bill Gates gave the keynote address and discussed some critical issues in education technology including the market landscape, current levels of funding, and personalized learning. After the keynote, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down in a small group setting to have lunch with Mr. Gates and some fellow edtech entrepreneurs/CEO’s (Jessie Woolley-Wilson of Dreambox, Eric Westendorf of LearnZillion, Jordan Meranus of Ellevate Education, and Laurence Holt of Amplify). It was a wonderful discussion and I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Gates’ great sense of humor, and impressed with his insight and optimism about the Common Core and technology being a game-changer for education. I even had a chance to tell Bill about MasteryConnect’s Common Core app being launched on Windows 8! Many thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation team for the wonderful invitation to be a part of the discussion as well as give Mr. Gates some insight into the successes and challenges of our growing edtech startup.
Keep on Trackin’
Mick Hewitt, CEO
March 14th, 2013
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in the MasteryConnect Video Contest. We were blown away as we watched the video entries that captured dedicated teachers using MasteryConnect and students engaging with formative data. With so many great video entries, it was tough to decide! Check out the winning videos below:
Grand Prize: Christopher Zirkle
Second Place: Greg Cox
Third Place: Rosie Evans
February 14th, 2013
Before joining the MasteryConnect team last January, I discovered MasteryConnect for myself as a classroom teacher. While I loved teaching and the impact I was having with my students, I wanted to impact student achievement on a broader scale. Ultimately, I envisioned being able to share this powerful tool with educators nationwide and share its impact at the classroom level. Since joining the MasteryConnect team, I’ve had the opportunity to travel from state to state, presenting MasteryConnect to enthusiastic educators and engaging in truly meaningful discussions around mastery learning.
Just last week, Trenton Goble, our Chief Academic Officer, and I had the sincere pleasure of meeting with the passionate educators of the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District in Minnesota. While it was really cold, the teachers we met made us feel warm and welcome!
We initially met district leaders from Apple Valley at the Solution Tree PLCs at Work Institute in Minneapolis. Our continued conversations led to this Professional Development opportunity centered around “The Model Mastery Approach” and a training session for Apple Valley’s middle and high school piloting teachers.
I can honestly say that my conversations with the teachers of Apple Valley were some of the most inspiring I’ve had in my time at MasteryConnect! I wanted to share just a few experiences that inspired me on this amazing trip:
- A high school physics teacher described how he gave his first assessment in MasteryConnect and invited students to scan their own bubble sheets. One student immediately asked if he could return to his seat to make the necessary corrections after receiving immediate feedback.
- A highly sophisticated middle school math team used Curriculum Mapping to unpack every standard into student-friendly “I can…”statements. Assessments filled their trackers and students in their classes were able to quickly identify their personal learning gaps.
- A teacher shared that she overheard a conversation between students as they waited in line in class to scan bubble sheets: rather than walking away saying “I got a C,” students are saying “I’m at mastery!”
- A middle school math teacher who previously spent her weekends tracking student mastery of every skill taught by hand on a paper-based mastery tracker (see the overwhelming image above) described how she now has a technology solution that allows her to communicate that information in real-time. She has her Saturdays back!
It’s stories like these that reinforce the importance of what we’re doing here at MasteryConnect for me. I’d like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU for being a part of this awesome journey into mastery learning; we’d love to hear your experiences with MasteryConnect as well!
Keep on Trackin’
January 19th, 2013
MasteryConnect is pleased to announce it has completed a Series A round of financing with an amazing group of investors. In an over-subscribed round of $4.125 million, Catamount Ventures led the round with a $2.125 million investment. Learn Capital, which invested in MasteryConnect in a seed round, participated again in the Series A financing, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation joined this latest round with a $1.5 million equity investment. We are also excited to welcome Deborah Quazzo of GSV Advisors to the team of investors joining this round. With this investment, both The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Catamount Ventures will be taking an active role in the company and serving on the board of directors. These investors join an already incredible group from our seed round which included NewSchools Venture Fund, ImagineK12, and an all-star group of silicon valley angel investors.
As a company in the education technology space, we feel that it is critical to bring together the right team internally as well as the right team of financial partners that can help us best serve the needs of students. With this round of financing, we have definitely accomplished this goal, bringing together both foundation support as well as fantastic group of venture capital firms that focus on mission-driven companies. As we first engaged these new partners in the finance process, we found a common alignment with them as we all believe that the best edtech ideas come from within the classroom - just as MasteryConnect began as an idea of a classroom teacher. We also found alignment in the idea that the ability to grow and scale the technology solution requires collaboration from the public and private sectors to impact not just thousands of students, but millions of students.
While the Dell family foundation has made many significant investments over the past six years in both non-profit and for-profit entities, this investment represents the first equity investment for the foundation in a U.S.based edtech company. This ‘first’ for the foundation is particularly exciting for MasteryConnect as it will not only make a significant impact for low-income students, but for students of all socio-economic categories.
So what does this mean for our incredible customers and users of MasteryConnect? It means we can continue to improve and build upon the great tools that started as an idea drawn up on a whiteboard by an experienced educator and two software developers. It means we can continue to work on new and exciting innovations that help students master critical concepts for college and career readiness, and it means we can continue to do what we love – serving students and educators!
January 18th, 2013
A few lucky MasteryConnect team members traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii this week to take part in Solution Tree’s PLCs at Work Conference. Our team was ecstatic to leave the smoggy Utah weather and head to sunny Hawaii to talk about mastery learning and PLC implementation!
This conference was an amazing way to kick off to the New Year! Rick DuFour and Bob Eaker led the event for the 150 attendees.
While it was attended by a smaller audience than most of the conferences in the continental U.S., it was an incredibly energetic crowd! Over 80% of the attendees, who hailed from places like Alaska, Australia and Canada, joined Trenton Goble for MasteryConnect’s lunch session. In addition, the MasteryConnect team had a chance to meet and get to know teachers from all over the world! It was a very rewarding conference and an invigorating preview for the upcoming season of Solution Tree summer conferences.
Aloha and keep on trackin’!
January 8th, 2013
We’re excited to announce that MasteryConnect’s BubbleSheet app is now available for Android! The BubbleSheet app allows students to take both formative and benchmark assessments on a mobile device or tablet.
In addition to allowing students to complete assessments on any Android device, the newly released version of BubbleSheet has many improved features:
- Autosaving of student answers
- Pausing an assessment allows students to finish an assessment at a later time
- Immediate feedback is now provided to students after submission to show scores and mastery level
We hope you enjoy using BubbleSheet on your Android devices! Click here to view the BubbleSheet app in the Android Marketplace.