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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sari Factor, CEO of Edgenuity (Part 3)

Posted on Friday, Aug 22nd 2014

Sramana Mitra: They are using online curriculum but there’s a teacher who’s telling them, “You take this course. Do this exercise.”

Sari Factor: Absolutely. The system is telling the student how much they need to accomplish each day, but a teacher is always monitoring that. We offer adjunct teachers as well. We provide that service. That’s a very small part of our business but one that is growing and we think will continue to grow. There’s always the supervision of a teacher.

Sramana Mitra: What is your penetration in the teacher community? Is there any trend or any segmentation in which teachers are readily accepting or adopting your solution?

Sari Factor: It’s interesting because as I reflect over my career, early on, teachers were very threatened by the technology. They were afraid that the students would know more than they did about technology. Today, teachers are much more comfortable, because they’re using technology in a lot of parts in their lives. It’s much more natural to come in to school these days and be using technology as a tool and enabler for students, and for teachers themselves.

Our system provides data to teachers to let them know where every student is at any time. There’s real-time data that’s sent to the teacher and available in dashboards all along the way, which is very helpful to them. It enables them to see that these three students might be struggling on the same topic, so the students can be taken away from the computer for a few minutes to do an offline activity or project. There’s a lot of that that goes on in many of our implementations.

Sramana Mitra: What is the size of the teacher body that has adopted this solution?

Sari Factor: I can’t speak for the industry as a whole, but we probably have upwards of 60,000 teachers on our platform right now.

Sramana Mitra: How does that translate into the student body that you’re able to impact through your solution?

Sari Factor: We had over a million students this last academic year on Edgenuity.

Sramana Mitra: So, 60,000 teachers and over a million students largely skewed towards the low-end recovery mode of usage.

Sari Factor: Increasingly, becoming the mainstream. I don’t know if you have been on our website, one of the examples that we point to a lot is the Henry County Schools in Georgia. They’ve moved in to blended learning in a very interesting way. They have two different models. One is for high school students who want to take one course or all of their courses through online learning. This is a more traditional approach to online learning and we see that happening in a lot of high schools.

At Locust Grove Middle School, half of their middle school students learn online in a blended learning setting last year. This has given some amazing results. The whole school is now going to blended learning where students work through the curriculum at their own pace in a lab of 75 students and then they move to their individual discipline area. The student-teacher ratio then becomes much smaller at about 15:1 when they move to their English or Science class. The school has been able to rearrange the schedule to enable that.

When they’re in the lab, there are 75 students with one teacher, then they can move to their individual classes. The teacher has data on exactly where every student was before they came in to the class. She knows that these four students need extra help. These four are now moving ahead and there are a bunch who are above where they should be.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Sari Factor, CEO of Edgenuity
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