Paul Montague, International Digital Learning and Curriculum Manager, Edmentum

The ongoing pandemic has catalyzed the use of education technology worldwide. Industry leaders and academicians now believe that changes in education driven by the lockdown are likely to continue. “The pandemic has certainly been a catalyst for the adoption of education technology in schools. It has helped them respond to the unprecedented challenges of maintaining health and safety, ensured education continuity, and provided social and emotional learning and wellbeing support in a variety of learning environments that have included distance, hybrid, blended, and face-to-face,” says Paul Montague, International Digital Learning and Curriculum Manager, Edmentum

In the Middle East, education technology partners like Edmentum have been a great help for schools that struggled with the unprecedented digital transition of teaching and learning. Paul adds, “At Edmentum, we have provided school groups, local and national schools, and private international schools with a range of award-winning online solutions. These solutions have included digital curriculum, online supplementary tools, mentoring, tutors, continuing professional development, and additional teachers that have all ensured continuity in education provision can be sustained.”

Providing digital learning programs to schools for over 60 years, Edmentum is a trusted partner for schools in over 80 countries. Edmentum’s programs combine digital curriculum and assessment for students aged 3-18. The company is committed to being educators’ most trusted partner in creating successful student outcomes everywhere learning occurs by giving teachers the power to deliver truly personalized learning. In conversation with K12 Digest, Paul elaborates on Edmentum’s journey in the Middle East, its products and services, plans ahead, and much more. 

 

  • What has been the impact of technology on education during this pandemic in the Middle East? How is Edmentum responding to it?

I have been privileged to work with educators throughout the Middle East. They should all be celebrated for adapting to new pedagogies, processes, systems, and technologies and continuing to innovate and use their skill, energy, and enthusiasm, to engage students in learning. 

When working with schools in the Middle East, I have noticed that the solutions that have had the most impact are supported by learning science, driven by adaptive technology, aligned to curriculum standards, include elements of instruction (or support instruction), and provide progress checks and real-time formative feedback for both students and teachers. At Edmentum, all of our solutions are underpinned by these features and have enabled schools to build bespoke solutions around individual students to help them reach their potential. Our priority is supporting schools to build a truly personalized provision around each learner that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. 

  • Tell us a bit about the founding story of Edmentum and its journey so far in the Middle East region. 

Edmentum is an international education technology company that is in its 60th anniversary year. We started as a research project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and are the original pioneer in computer-assisted instruction. We began as Plato learning and have evolved significantly since those early days adding Study Island, EdOptions Academy, Exact Path, Courseware, and Calvert Learning to our range of solutions. We recently acquired Apex Learning and partner with BASE Education (social-emotional learning curriculum) and FEV Tutor (24/7 tutors).

We provide consulting, CPD, mentoring, digital curriculum, supplementary tools, online tutors, test preparation, and a fully Cognia and American International Accreditation Association (AIAA) accredited online school. We are uniquely placed to support any school or education organization with any of their digital or school improvement needs.

We have worked with schools in the Middle East for the last ten years and have a large footprint in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar. ADEK uses our Exact Path solution and our online, on-demand 24/7 tutors in their Charter Schools to improve learning in maths, language arts, and reading. 

Additionally, school groups such as the ADNOC Schools, Liwa Education (Abu Dhabi), and Aldar Education (Abu Dhabi) and private international schools such as Universal American School (Dubai), Summit International School (Abu Dhabi), The Sheikh Zayed Private Academy for Girls (GEMS Education and Abu Dhabi), and the School of Modern Skills (Dubai) are using a range of our solutions to:

  1. Create integrated assessment strategies that utilize both formative and summative assessments
  2. Identify and close learning gaps in math, English, and science
  3. Support catch-up lessons
  4. Deliver on-grade-level teaching and extension activities
  5. Prepare for benchmarking assessments, such as MAP
  6. Provide credit recovery by using our Cognia accredited online school, EdOptions Academy
  7. Provide a customizable digital curriculum that enables teachers to deliver original credit courses
  8. Provide maths and reading teaching through our foundation skills instruction service
  9. Expand course choices for students by using our Cognia accredited online school to provide over 500 courses such as Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Entrepreneurship, and Green Energy Development.

  •  As a trusted EdTech partner of educators, what are the significant challenges Edmentum faced when educational institutions in the Middle East moved to fully online courses?

Edmentum is an online learning company, so we were perfectly positioned to support schools transitioning to hybrid, distance, and blended learning. Initially, our main challenge was coping with the rapid increase in demand for our solutions and providing the training and support to ensure they were integrated effectively. Furthermore, our online school, EdOptions Academy, increased enrolments by 462%, and our Exact Path and Courseware customers have increased by 157%. Study Island has seen a 47% increase, and there are currently 1.3 million content launches a day. 

We are exceptionally proud of the service we deliver, and our implementation support is seamless. When schools partner with us, we know it’s vital to make the implementation process simple and easy so that our solutions can be embedded into the school’s practice and immediately impact attainment and growth. 

  • Tell us about the products and services Edmentum offers now for its clients in the Middle East. How does the company intend to stand out from the crowd?

Edmentum offers several unique solutions to schools in the Middle East that help them to achieve their improvement goals. Our wide range of award-winning solutions can be combined to create a truly personalized experience for learners. We have outlined some of our key solutions below.

  • Study Island improves standards mastery and retention by providing over 600,000 practice items built to cover your state standards. It is helping teachers around the world make their instruction more effective by offering high-quality, flexible formative assessment tools to quickly measure who is on track and who needs additional support. There are 8,000 schools currently using Study Island, and the group session function enables live, collaborative practice sessions to take place, making learning fun. The checkpoint mode offers a non-competitive, teacher-led quiz, while challenge and race modes offer class competition and award points to students as they answer questions correctly. 
  • Exact Path is a K-12 individualized, adaptive learning solution that makes math, reading, and language arts learning personal. It is used by 2.8 million learners around the world and uses diagnostic assessment data (and can utilize MAP results) to create a personalized playlist of content and instruction that helps close learning gaps and accelerate learning. Students who use Exact Path are proven to demonstrate positive, statistically significant growth. Exact Path is unique in that it is perfect for helping close skill gaps, accelerate learning, and individualize instruction with effective competency-based learning paths. 
  • Courseware is Edmentum’s digital curriculum that is available for grade 6-12 learners. It is a standards-aligned digital curriculum that supports schools in delivering online, face-to-face, distance, and hybrid learning. This digital curriculum is rapidly replacing traditional textbooks and contains all the learning content a student would require. It is engaging, has built-in assessments, and is customizable, enabling teachers to combine material from different courses or grade levels.
  • EdOptions Academy is our Cognia and AIAA accredited online school. Partnering with EdOptions Academy enables schools to offer a wider range of courses and learners to follow their passions, talents, and interests. We provide a wide range of courses that include Advanced Placement courses, World Languages, SAT and ACT preparation courses, core subjects, and electives.
  • Our courses include Biotechnology, Robotics, Coding, Astronomy, Game Design, Health Science, Hospitality & Tourism, International Business – Global Commerce in the 21st Century, Journalism, Artificial Intelligence, Foundations of Green Energy Systems, Web Technologies, and Renewable Technology.
  • We can deliver over 500 credit-bearing courses and also provide catch-up or learning recovery and acceleration instruction in math and reading through our foundation skills instruction service. Students complete a diagnostic test, and then our online teachers from our Cognia accredited school will support them by delivering lessons that help them develop their weakest areas. A math and English lesson will be provided every day from Monday to Thursday each week.
  • BASE Education provides over 100 digital social-emotional and wellbeing courses for learners in grades 1-12. We recognize that social-emotional learning (SEL) has always been an important component in developing the whole learner, and latest research links SEL to improved academic outcomes. SEL also addresses the changing nature of the workplace, reinforcing the importance of recognizing, promoting, and developing these skills.

  • How has the performance of Edmentum been in the last few years? What has been the progress of the business in the Middle East region?

Edmentum has grown significantly in the last few years both in America and internationally. The Middle East, and the United Arab Emirates, in particular, have been the main stimulus for international growth. 

Our solutions align with the National Agenda Parameters and UAE inspection frameworks. Therefore, they have been utilized by a wide variety of schools aiming to improve math, English, reading, language arts, and science standards. 

We work very closely with accreditation bodies such as Cognia and the American International Accreditation Association to ensure that our online school, EdOptions Academy, attains the highest level of accreditation. This builds confidence and credibility in our school and has led to significant growth as more schools are partnering with us to provide additional courses that the schools do not have their own staff to deliver.  We also work closely with NWEA MAP to ensure their data can be imported seamlessly into Exact Path, which then provides personalized, adaptive learning paths for learners. Exact Path has also been awarded a WIDA PRIME V2 correlation, indicating the program’s ability to meet ELL students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing needs.

  • At Edmentum, how are you trying to drive employee engagement and keep up the positive spirit?

At Edmentum, we are driven by our goal of supporting schools around the world, and this is what makes us positive. We are tied by a mission to support all learners in achieving their absolute potential. 

We want to support schools with their unique needs and goals, and this allows us to continue working and staying positive. We want to help.

  • Post-COVID-19, what are the opportunities Edmentum sees in the Middle East’s K12 education market?

All countries in the Middle East are diversifying their economic base and developing knowledge-based economies. Education is, therefore, vitally important to all government growth agendas. We will continue to support governments and schools to attain their improvement targets. The UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait remain very important, and we are confident that our solutions can also have a positive impact on other countries in the Middle East. We have appointed a local partner in Saudi Arabia to help us align our solutions to the Vision 2030 priorities and are looking forward to partnering with schools there. 

Many experts have differing views on how schools will, and should, emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. All would agree that it has been a catalyst for change, and it would be a disservice to our learners worldwide should we return to ‘normal’ without evaluating how EdTech can be used to complement, enrich, and enhance education.

The Middle East is at the forefront of many of these developments, and we have a range of solutions that can help any school diversify its business models and reach its improvement targets. EdTech can really support schools to personalize education, and we look forward to helping schools individualize learning with our adaptive and artificial intelligence-driven solutions and tailor curriculum offerings by partnering with our online school. 

  • What kinds of technologies would you recommend the Middle East school systems to adopt in the post-pandemic world? 

Technologies that improve the quality of teaching and learning, add flexibility to their delivery models, and enable them to personalize their provision so that learners reach and exceed their potential should be prioritized. We have a wide range of solutions that can support schools to solve problems and reach their improvement targets. My advice is to choose wisely, consult widely and engage in conversations with your technology partners. We provide free consultations and frequently develop bespoke solutions for schools by combining our platforms and services.

  • What exciting things can we expect from Edmentum for its clients in the Middle East?

Edmentum is continuing to invest in and develop its own products. We remain focused on embedding adaptive learning programs and increasingly using artificial intelligence to power our solutions. 

We are also partnering with EdTech companies that extend the range of solutions we can offer. I am particularly excited by our partnership with BASE Education and our increasing focus on social-emotional learning. In addition to having over 100 SEL courses that schools can use, there is also BASEline assessment that launched in August. This will identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and suggest which SEL courses from the catalog they should take to help them develop and improve. 

We have recently acquired Apex Learning which will improve the range and quality of middle school curriculum and courses we can provide and extend the range of Advanced Placement courses we can offer. 

Our priority at Edmentum is designing learning solutions that help educators become more effective and enable students to learn wherever that learning is taking place. We will continue to design award-winning solutions that utilize the latest developments in pedagogy and learning science and relieve the planning, administration, and assessment burden teachers face. We will also provide engaging, differentiated resources and offer complimentary instruction and tutoring support so that learners are motivated and can reach their potential. 

Our aim will continue to be supporting schools in building a truly personalized provision around each learner that can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and we will continue to follow our two guiding principles:

  1. #EducatorFirst: The educator is at the heart of every decision we make. 
  1. Building School Around the Student: School is not one-size-fits-all. We partner with educators across the world to create programs focused on the needs of each student so that personalized learning is an achievable reality in every physical and virtual classroom. 

About Paul Montague, International Digital Learning and Curriculum Manager

Paul Montague, Edmentum’s International Digital Learning and Curriculum Manager, has worked in the education field for 20 years and has significant teaching and learning, digital curriculum, content, assessment, and social-emotional learning and wellbeing experience. His roles have included Geography Teacher, School Improvement Manager, Advisor, Project Examiner, Government Advisor, Curriculum Development Manager (Pearson), International Consultant for the Middle East (GL Education), and International Digital Curriculum and Learning Manager for Edmentum. In his current role with Edmentum, he partners with and supports schools worldwide as they introduce a range of Edmentum’s flexible digital curriculum and learning solutions. 

Middle East School on Edmentum

“The Edmentum team provides unparalleled support, advice, and guidance and develops a bespoke plan with the school needs at its center. Exact Path is now fully integrated into our Maths, Language Arts, and Reading curriculums.” – Kate Hutchinson, Vice Principal (K-5), Liwa International School for Girls, Abu Dhabi

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