Sylvan brings advanced technology to its classrooms without ditching the important human side of education
Sylvan Learning focuses on results and setting children up for long-term success. Through its unique integration of technology into its curriculum and individualized learning paths, Sylvan Learning builds academic confidence for its students and inspires them to grow their own educational ambitions beyond what their parents and teachers have set for them. But despite having a strong presence of technology in its classrooms, Sylvan Learning keeps the focus on the students and the teachers. The brand sees value in both the integration of technology into its curriculum and upholding the human interaction aspect of education, with its teachers acting as acting as instructors, coaches and motivators.
“Sylvan has been successful because we keep the teacher and the student at the forefront of the model, using technology to support them both,” said Alan Catlett, Vice President of Product Management for Sylvan. “Technology is not the primary focus in our classrooms. Its usage simply allows our students and teachers to be much more successful.”
Finding the proper balance between advanced technology and human interaction is paramount to the success of Sylvan Learning according to Catlett. That’s why the brand has plans to introduce a more tech-based curriculum in the future, but is still being very careful about the way that it does so.
“A teacher brings intangibles to the table that cannot be recreated by technology,” said Catlett. “A computer or tablet can tell a student right away if they got an answer right or wrong, but a teacher can provide immediate feedback far beyond that. They give subtle redirection if a student is off task or struggling, which ultimately will help students’ confidence levels. Teachers give direction through human interaction and help keep students engaged.”
For Catlett, technology’s primary role in the Sylvan Learning classroom is collecting data to decide what curriculum and activities should come next for a student, which greatly benefits the student’s progression while also saving the teachers time from a planning perspective.
“We are solving a potential burden through technology because we use the info from our iPads to help teachers stay informed on what task should come next for students,” said Catlett. “Our teachers can focus more on the individuals and their unique learning experiences instead of spending a great portion of their time planning out worksheets and other materials. Our technology simply enhances the performance level of both the student and the teacher.”
The mere presence of technology in Sylvan Learning’s model also helps many students gain confidence in academics. Since these students grew up with technology, its transition into the classroom is seamless. It comes down to the fact that they are able to get comfortable with material more quickly.
“We definitely see the payoff of our technology in the results,” said John McAuliffe, Sylvan’s CEO. “We use the data collected by our iPads to help teacher performance, identifying areas where they could improve. We help teachers stay informed so they can deliver the right content at the right time to our students.”
By utilizing both teachers and technology, Sylvan Learning is able to focus on how technology can be used to improve the academic experience, instead of becoming solely dependent on it. Sylvan’s use of technology also enforces program continuity across the entire system so each location will provide students with a similar course experience while focusing on the skills they need to improve. Moreover, the use of iPads saves franchisees in labor and material costs.
“We decided when we undertook this migration toward technology that it was really important for teachers to be able to focus on the student and less on the material itself, while also being more cost effective,” said McAuliffe. “Our technology handles the material, and our teachers build relationships with students by learning what works and doesn’t work for them. In the end, both result in the individualized learning paths that make our curriculum so unique.”
While Sylvan Learning has a reputation for its integration of technology into its curriculum, the brand stands firm that its teachers hold irreplaceable value in the classroom. Finding a balance between the two is everything, and Sylvan Learning is actively working to perfect that balance every single day.