Instructional Technology

The Digital Teaching Platform (DTP) is an educational product category that provides the primary instructional environment in today’s technology-intensive learning environments. Unlike prior comprehensive curriculum and assessment products that were designed to replace the teacher, a DTP is designed to incorporate and support the teacher, while serving as the primary carrier of the curriculum content. It supports the teacher with a suite of integrated tools for curriculum planning, student management, and student assessment.

The DTP’s combination of computer-student-teacher interaction is a “distributed-cognition” system that takes advantage of the benefits of technology and the skills of the teacher. The DTP encourages students to take on greater responsibilities in learning. The technology:

  • Motivates and engages students.
    It presents well-designed learning experiences and provides frequent feedback on progress. This can enable students to enter a “flow” state that builds their motivation and focus (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). Coupled with a well-prepared teacher, technology can engage students in their learning and, over time, build long-term intrinsic interest in the content they are mastering (Lepper & Henderlong, 2000).
  • Expedites and improves assessment.
    Sophisticated technologies enhance our ability to customize instruction through adaptive testing and ongoing formative evaluation. Effective embedded assessment enables substantial gains in students’ mastery of material while lowering the amount of time needed to accomplish this level of performance (Feng, Heffernan, & Koedinger, 2009).
  • Personalizes learning.
    Recent developments in technology-supported assessments make it possible to obtain reliable insights into students’ academic needs more accurately, and in less time than was possible with traditional, paper-based static assessments. Teachers can continuously monitor student’s performance and adaptively challenge students with learning opportunities at the appropriate level. These are activities that mirror those of skilled tutors who produce very substantial learning gains (Bloom, 1984).
  • Facilitates application of learning and the building social networks.
    These tools and infrastructures offer teachers exciting new possibilities to promote creativity, collaboration, and sharing. These are core skills for all students in the 21st century’s global, knowledge-based innovation economy (Araya & Peters, 2010). Providing intrinsic motivation to play, and therefore to practice, is an important feature of the eLearning games to be incorporated in Digital Teaching Platforms. It enables students to participate in online games or in other activities where they apply and extend the skills they mastered in the learning center (Salen & Zimmerman, 2005). Students are more highly motivated in this type of learning because the experiences provide autonomy and choice (Ryan & Deci, 2000). In her review of the literature on educational games, Dondlinger (2007) found that all researchers agreed that, “… motivation to play is a significant characteristic of educational video games” (p. 22–23). 

The SylvanSync™ White Paper describes Sylvan’s new Digital Teaching Platform and how it addresses the principles of effective instructional technology put forth in the National Technology Plan.