Dr. Zach F. Jones, Associate Professor of Allied Health Sciences at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, knows that one of the keys to success for his students is to build a foundation of knowledge in order to think critically and creatively. Mastering key concepts early on means that knowledge can be applied more effectively in both lectures and labs. And, ultimately, students emerge better prepared for the future.
The problem: Standardized textbooks, even those that have associated digital offerings, have no way for professors to customize content to suit either their courses or their students
“Cerego is distinct from the 'digital homework' that often accompanies digital textbook resources in that it allows the instructor to tailor support exercises specifically to the instructor's goals — including the course-specific meaning of terminology, or instructor-developed content that does not come with a particular text being used in a course,” Jones says.
Instead of a solution crafted to suit online learning, the traditional textbook-based approach merely makes content more available — there’s no way to tailor the information to suit a specific course, nor does it offer any additional insight into student progress.
A solution that empowers students and instructors alike
“With Cerego, instructors can create content that provides great insight into how an individual learner is progressing, or where they may be encountering great difficulty — those are critical aspects of a course that are difficult to address when face-to-face interactions are limited,” Jones explains. “Using Cerego means that students will have practice and proficiency with key terminology and concepts covered in lectures and laboratories during a course. It also empowers students to 'level up' in a course that would otherwise leave them behind from the beginning.”
That additional practice is a product of Cerego’s adaptive learning algorithm, which creates a unique learning pathway for each student based on their interactions with the course material in Cerego. If a particular learner needs more practice with a given concept, the Cerego platform automatically generates quizzes and schedules them according to the learner’s optimal times to study, based on cognitive science. And, because of that, students more often master the material, and retain it long into the future.
“What is most valuable to me about Cerego is that it fosters the long-term persistence of memories that are 'wired in' for students to access in future situations, where they will need to have the knowledge at hand. That allows them to reach more complex conclusions than if they are simply learning by memorization for rote-recall exams. Students can build foundational knowledge while they are also progressing within a course that requires them to use those foundations to demonstrate reasoning skills in experiential contexts.”
Looking forward, as the academic and business worlds continue to adapt to asynchronous, non-linear learning environments, Jones sees Cerego playing an even greater role in education.
“Cerego will become more relevant post pandemic largely because teaching successfully in the future is going to take much more instructor plasticity and novel approaches to truly connect with learners in ways that are valuable in the classroom, but made difficult without in-person instruction.”
“What is most valuable to me about Cerego is that it fosters the long-term persistence of memories that are 'wired in' for students to access in future situations, where they will need to have the knowledge at hand. That allows them to reach more complex conclusions than if they are simply learning by memorization for rote-recall exams.”
- Dr. Zach F. Jones, Associate Professor of Allied Health Sciences at Southwestern Oklahoma State University
But it’s not only because of the benefits it offers the instructors. In Jones’ experience, Cerego creates an environment that fosters dialogue between students and instructors — unlike with textbooks, students know that their feedback can be directly applied to the course content, which can be dynamically updated, and that gives them a sense of ownership over their own education.
“Students find it empowering to use Cerego, and it increases the likelihood that a student will challenge a poorly-worded or poorly-conveyed idea by an instructor. Giving learners the confidence to inject themselves into an ongoing conversation about things they may not fully grasp is a key element in successfully learning how to be a 'life-long learner' and educated citizen, as opposed to a passive 'absorber of information.’”
Thanks very much to Dr. Zach F. Jones for the interview. Learn more about Allied Health Sciences at Southwestern Oklahoma State University via their official website. Photos courtesy of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.