Yesterday Derivita, a STEM education technology company, announced the launch of its new on-line math homework system. Created by Instructure co-founder Devlin Daley and ex-Googler Ryan Brown, the technology will provide improved resources for teachers and students in addition to alleviating the burdens of student debt.
Daley explained his reasoning behind Derivita: "This is actually in response to problems I saw as I was meeting with different schools. It was amazing to me that the math completion rate was actually a topic that went all the way to the president of the university." Math courses have become an issue in many student's college careers. It's an issue that keeps a lot of students from graduating, therefore missing the opportunity to increase their earning potential, while still being stuck with student loans.
While at Instructure, Daley saw a similar situation that led to the creation of Canvas. Because of this, he knew it was something that could be improved upon. "From a technology point of view, I knew I could do better and knew the students needed somebody to step in and provide something better for them."
Derivita is an education technology company that provides a powerful computer algebra system that supports deeper and more complicated question types with an elegant user interface. It can be paired with any publisher's textbook and open education resources (OER) while also integrating seamlessly into the school's learning management system (LMS).
Daley explains that as far as student's costs are concerned, Derivita is un-bundling the bundle - in a good way. In the past students have been required to purchase courseware in a bundle - content and technology as one unit. Therefore, students were unable to resell their textbooks because a used book no longer has a valid access code. Students were forced to buy new books with no option to purchase used materials.
"We're able to split the technology from the instructional material," Daley explains. "We're still in the courseware market because it's technology and the content we provide is assessment content - question banks, assignments, tests, and quizzes." Teachers are able to use Derivita in many ways, one of the most beneficial being data driven teaching. With Derivita, teachers can see exactly what individual students are struggling with as well as how the class as a whole is performing. "They get the aggregate data for the class, which they're not getting well at all today."
Derivita also provides unique features which help guide the students through questions. This is accomplished without giving the students the answers right away. "We're actually teaching them strategies or reasoning about math. Then, if they still don't get it, we show them a worked solution so they can keep practicing with the system until they gain mastery over that skill."
Sunny Washington, Because Learning CEO and former Instructure employee, spoke about her hope for Derivita. "As a state, there is this continued talk about needing more STEM education and careers, but if we don't address this fundamental math problem here in the state, our population and workforce will never be able to compete like we want it to." She mentions how she saw a similar problem while she was at Instructure and she is excited to see how Derivita is able to make an impact in student's lives.
Derivita already has a dozen pilot users across the United States, with almost twenty more who will follow suit in the coming months.
Daley says Derivita is not aimed at completely blowing up the current structure of education. Instead, they hope to bring their technology and abilities to the education market to help the existing skills that are already there. "Let's listen to the customers and learn their pain points. Then we can build solutions for them to actually move change in the world."
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