Explore Learning: Developing a Custom Assessment Engine and Platform for Optimised Learning Outcomes 

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Explore Learning is a private tutoring provider that supports students aged 4-16 from around the UK. Originally a fully in-person business, they now offer a mix of both in-person and online learning.

Suggested reading: Learn more about how Talk Think Do enabled online assessments by reading our first Explore Learning case study, ‘Facilitating Digital Transformation with an Assessment Authoring Platform’.

The Beginning

Explore Learning’s first development project with Talk Think Do involved creating a custom content management system using Learnosity. Following the successful implementation and delivery of this solution, Explore Learning decided to work with Talk Think Do to update their assessment platform.

Up until this point, Explore Learning was dependent on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider for their whole online learning and assessment system. Explore Learning needed a new solution because:

  • The SaaS platform was not an exact fit for their needs, and they were spending significant time and resources trying to tailor it to meet their requirements.
  • They were unable to collect any assessment data and were therefore limited in terms of their potential future use of AI and machine learning.
  • They wanted to have improved visibility and control over their core systems.

Talk Think Do and Explore Learning engaged in a number of discovery activities to find their best-fit solution. Explore Learning decided to proceed with a custom-built logic engine and assessment platform, designed to provide a high level of control, security and flexibility. 

The Solution

Talk Think Do worked alongside Explore Learning’s specialist data scientists to create ‘Compass’, a cloud-native application tailored towards improving student learning outcomes and increasing user engagement.

Talk Think Do was able to rapidly build and iterate this complex piece of software by following DevOps pipelines and taking a strategic Azure cloud-native approach. Due to the highly sensitive nature of student learning data, it was essential that security best-practices were followed at all times. This involved:

  • Adhering to modernised DevOps and DevSecOps processes
  • Working closely with internal data protection teams
  • Employing GitHub Advanced Security to continually assess for potential vulnerabilities

The resulting adaptive logic engine has a number of features that make it unique to each user, providing an engaging educational experience. It can:

  • Optimise question delivery: Questions are presented to students in the most effective way for improving learning outcomes and student engagement.
  • Provide educational interventions: If a student shows signs of uncertainty or misunderstanding, educational content is delivered at the optimal time and in the best-fit format, such as video, text or audio.
  • Regulate according to student performance: The system regularly drops into ‘assessment mode’ to ensure the questions being delivered are appropriate for the child’s capabilities. This data can then be shared with tutors and parents.

The assessment platform that sits on top of this logic engine has also been customised to make it accessible to students with a range of needs. Audio prompts were added to support students with learning difficulties or visual impairments. Meanwhile, Talk Think Do developed a range of UX skins personalised to a range of different cultures, ages, and learning requirements.

March 2020: A new challenge

Compass was designed to be rolled out in Explore Learning’s physical centres. However, when the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, it became clear that the platform would quickly need to be adapted for online learning. 

Despite this last-minute challenge in the development process, the platform was successfully released in the summer of 2020 following a short pilot period. 

The next challenge would be adding video and screensharing to enable streamlined learning — read more about this in our third Explore Learning case study, ‘Explore Learning: Reimagining Education with a Custom Video and Screen Sharing System’.

The Results

Explore Learning received a custom adaptive logic engine that helped them to support student engagement, gain control over their data, and improve learning outcomes. 

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Explore Learning was able to seamlessly pivot their tutoring approach as Talk Think Do continued to build their software according to an agile development and delivery process.

Online learning soon became a core part of Explore Learning’s business model, allowing them to reach a wider customer base. Their online tutoring service is now exclusively used by one third of their customers.In addition to facilitating online learning, this cloud application development project has delivered:

  • Advanced learning capabilities: The Compass adaptive logic engine has allowed Explore Learning to optimise student learning experiences and gain new business. Children master an average of two new skills for every 30 minutes spent on the platform.¹
  • Improved control and data accessibility: Explore Learning has complete control over all of its assessment data and logic pathways, putting them in a strong position to integrate AI and ML into their adaptive learning solution in line with ongoing developments in the EdTech industry.
  • A secure cloud environment for sensitive data: The procedures followed during development have ensured the security of the final logic engine.

Talk Think Do continues to provide Explore Learning with managed application support, monitoring the security, capacity, and functionality of their assessment platform.

Want to learn more about how cloud development could help your business? Book a consultation with one of our experts today.

¹ How our smart learning tool works

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