New Program Improves Learning Abilities
Written By: Karen Schroeder | Posted: Friday, November 2nd, 2012
Advocates for Academic Freedom
Both K-12 teachers and parents who homeschool their children may find Naiku, an interactive quiz, homework and assessment program, one option that will improve evaluation methods and increase efficiency in the learning process while encouraging students to excel academically. Naiku (the Lao word for teacher) won a High Tech Division award from Minnesota Cup and has been recognized by technology-and education-focused publications.
A sign in the Naiku offices states, "Increase your joy quotient by a factor of 7" which also represents the goals many educators have for their students but which is often diminished when an assignment is returned with red marks. Students and parents typically want to hear positive comments from teachers, but red check marks are often taken more personally than intended. However, when an inanimate object like a computer identifies errors, students and parents see this information as private and are more willing to accept results presented in an emotionless form. In this case, technology can help maintain the positive working relationship between the teacher and the student.
Corey Thompson, CEO and co-founder of Naiku, states, "We're proud of how much time Naiku saves teachers by automatically scoring quizzes and tests for them. There seems to be something special in how students rate their confidence of concepts and reflect on their wrong answers too." He explains that teachers create their own test questions for the students and instantly see the results. No longer do students need to wait for teachers to take so much home to be corrected. This increased efficiency is intended to improve student enthusiasm and teacher effectiveness while providing more time for teachers to provide critical help, motivation, and nurturing.
Naiku is versatile and can be accessed on an iPod, notebook, Kindle, Fire, iPhone, or a computer which today's tech-savvy students enjoy using. This opportunity fulfills the goal of "increasing the joy quotient by a factor of 7" when taking a quiz or test, a remarkable accomplishment.
Because the Naiku process enables educators to create and administer exams and identify student weaknesses, a teacher can gain instant feedback about student academic needs. The process helps teachers to engage students and to recognize the needs of individual students, while incorporating the modern methods students prefer when receiving and interacting with information.
Mr. Thompson wants to assure teachers that math assessments may include the option of requiring math steps needed in the thinking process. Science, language, and history tests may include constructive responses which obligate students to reveal their full knowledge of the subject.
The second step in the Naiku process is called "Reflection" because students are expected to explain how and why they think they had a wrong answer. Journaling, the third step in the student process, encourages students to leave a "self-note" defining their errors and how to correct those errors on future problems.
The final step, "coding," provides information for students, parents, and teachers about specific subject-related skills that require additional student practice. Naiku's co-founder and President, Adisack Nhouyvanisvong, who has a Ph.D. in psychology, extensive experience in educational assessment processes, and has helped develop the No Child Left Behind testing tools, emphasizes the importance that coding has in guiding teachers and students in identifying specific areas of study to increase academic progress and classroom efficiency. For example: when a math student understands that his number-sense score is lower than needed for success, the student becomes curious about what number sense represents and about what is needed to increase that score. This information encourages students to set very personal and specific academic goals which also increase efficiency and effectiveness in the learning process.
Mr. Thompson explained that the cost for the Naiku program "is about $2000, but varies depending upon the size of the school. There is a classroom response (or "clicker") feature available called Quick Question which is free."
The Naiku program also includes an option for parents to have secure, online access into their child's scores, journal and reflection responses.
Greg Wright, Executive Vice President of Naiku, explained that teachers are finding creative ways to deal with federal restrictions on the use of school funds. Some schools are reallocating funds saved from obsolete and expensive bubble sheets and printed tests. PTAs and grants provided by other organizations are helping schools purchase the Naiku program.
Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom and an education consultant for political candidates. She has thirty-six years of teaching in public schools and Master Degrees in Special Education and Learning Disabilities.