May 8, 2015
DreamBox Learning (Bellevue, WA) is delivering 1 million lessons of its adaptive math software daily and the number of students using the program has doubled each year for the past four years. DreamBox, founded in 2006, has expanded from its initial K-2 offering to cover K-8, added Spanish language content and built out its professional development offerings.
President and CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson, who joined DreamBox in 2010 after stints at Blackboard (Washington, DC) and LeapFrog (Emeryville, CA) has seen a change in the expectation for educational technology in the nearly five years she has been at DreamBox.
“When I first got here, the inclusion of what I’ll call next-generation instructional technology was largely in the nice-to-have bucket, now, it’s in the must-have,” she told EER.
Expectations for the use of technology have been set and the practice is exploding with schools looking for ways to get even the recalcitrant educators to embrace it, Woolley-Wilson said, citing several reasons for the change.
“There has been an explosive increase in access—both broadband and devices,” she said noting that federal, state and local policies have pushed that expansion.
Parents are increasingly vocal about making sure their children have access to the kind of learning that is going to prepare them for an information-driven, global economy, Woolley-Wilson said.
“Across the spectrum from the most-advantaged to the least-advantaged, you are seeing parents and other learning guardians insist on having more technology integrated into the learning experience so that students can be prepared not to just survive in the 21st century but to drive it,” she said.
The third factor that Woolley-Wilson sees driving technology is the development of scalable, reliable and effective instructional technology that actually delivers on technology’s promise.
“We have made a lot of promises—many of the promises we made haven’t been fulfilled,” Woolley-Wilson said. “There has been a healthy skepticism out there and it’s justified, frankly.”
Woolley-Wilson believes the current class of technology that is adaptive and responds in the moment to the individual learner is a game changer creating new possibilities around personalization, engagement, and actionable data that did not exist even five years ago.
“We are going to get a point where we are not going to say elearning, we will say learning because we are going to assume it has technology integrated,” she said.
Data and Professional Development
Educators increasingly are seeking data that is organic, individualized and actionable and technology providers are factoring what users expect and need from data into the design process, Woolley-Wilson said.
DreamBox data can provide guidance on what to do in class, how to work with individuals and where parents can help, she said. With technology and the data it provides, there can be a seamless transition from home-to-school and home-to-school.
Looking forward, Woolley-Wilson said data can give insights into classes of learners, for example how language capabilities impact student learning. As more and more teachers use data, they will come up with interesting applications for it, she said.
DreamBox continues to develop and expand in the area of professional development. For example, the company added on-demand courses after hearing from customers that was something they wanted.
“We can’t stop at just delivering a software product; we have to share accountability for delivering a successful implementation,” Woolley-Wilson.
DreamBox content and technology is developed in-house. The software can be complementary to any basal math program.
The company started distribution with free pilots and temporary licenses. Now it is sold by an in-house sales team and also generates word-of-mouth business. A subscription for a school building is $7,000 with no limits on the number of users.
Original published on Electronic Education Report