An English teacher and instructional designer, Yvonne Gonzalez, has launched a kickstarter to create ‘Ye Olde Tutor' – a personalised e-learning tutorial offering that use game elements, story, and visuals to support learning.
According to Gonzalez, these tutorials are a response to the lack of edtech to support English and arts subjects.
She says, while these subjects are essential for every person, they have long been overlooked by edtech companies.
“The rise of educational technology has done wonders to advance classrooms, but it is unfortunate that language arts has not been a subject of importance. At the moment the major contenders in the realm of edtech for English teachers are focused on grammar and reading, which are important, but rarely push students to greater rigor with the realm of language arts,” Gonzalez says.
The trend for edtech is to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and Gonzalez says while these subjects are essential to the success of the economy, people need communication skills too.
"I don't know a single engineer or scientist that doesn't need to lead presentations, run meetings, or collaborate on teams. Effective communication is at the core of any human interaction and to to teach them effective communication would be to prepare them for any future job they may encounter,” she says.
According to Gonzalez, adolescents attention spans have dropped from around 50 to 90 minutes (which is the length of the average primary or secondary school class), to 20 minutes. For this reason, she has made the tutorials based on the principles of micro-learning. Essentially, students take a number of 2-4 minute segments that add up to the entire tutorial, rather than one long session.
Gonzalez says, "It's kind of like taking a huge bite. You don't really enjoy it and you feel like you can't breathe, but when you take small bites, you can enjoy it and you are more likely to savor it."
The bite-sized learning fosters student engagement by giving students control, she says.
"Learners control the pace. Based on an assessment, courses will be assigned to them, they move through interactive slides, games, simulations, and guided practices while watching a host of fun characters and being immersed in story. All of it is designed to with their brain in mind," says Gonzalez.
On top of this Gonazlaez says she is committed to making the tutorials affordable and accessible to a wide range of people.
The Kickstarter campaign runs through April 18, and the funding is 'all or none,' meaning that Gonzalez must raise the minimum of $4,000 or the project will not be funded at all.
"I chose Kickstarter because it is a platform that gives back. I don't just want donations, I want people to have access to Ye Olde Tutor and to benefit from it," says Gonzalez.