New education app Enlight will help teachers form deeper understanding of their students in order to better teach to them where they’re at.
Enlight founder Chris Dieumerci will present at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday July 17. This will mark Dieumerci’s second time speaking at a 1 Million Cups Fargo event—he first presented a gestating ed tech idea soon after graduating high school.
Now in college, Dieumerci’s concept has developed over the intervening years, and he has pivoted to focus more on helping teachers.
“The more the teacher knows about their students, the more effective they are in their classroom,” Dieumerci said.
Dieumerci talked about what he called the “Too Late” Effect, in which teachers under current conditions don’t really get to know their individual students until the middle or end of the semester, by which time it is usually too late to change their trajectory within the class.
Teaching is a form of public speaking, and Dieumerci notes one of the cardinal rules of public speaking is to know your audience. This poses a challenge to teachers, who must learn a new audience of students every academic year (and sometimes every semester.) One goal of Enlight is to enable for teachers to know their students on the first day of class.
Students build profiles in Enlight, which then gives teachers data about their individual students and about their classes collectively. Enlight gathers information on students’ learning styles, interests, hobbies, passions, and more, which teachers can use to relate curriculum to things their students already care about.
“The teacher can use the data as access points,” Dieumerci said.
“Most teachers like to get feedback,” Dieumerci said, but surveys tend to be done at the end of term, when students tend to either like their teacher because they’re getting a good grade in the class, or dislike their teacher because they’re getting a bad grade in the class. This means the data collected is less effective than it could be. Plus, gathering feedback at the end of a term or year means there is a gap before that new information can be applied to the curriculum.
“At the end of the year they really can’t make any changes at all,” Dieumerci said.
Enlight uses formative assessment to ask what is and isn’t working during a class, allowing for more agile mid-term course correction. It also offers a pre-test capability to allow teachers to find out what their students know about a topic before they begin covering it. This means teachers can challenge students who already know the material well while tailoring instruction for other students who don’t.
“The teacher can basically plan accordingly,” Dieurmerci said.
The idea for Enlight is motivated in part by Dieumerci’s own experiences in school, where he said if a teacher didn’t take the time to tell him why he should care about a topic, he often wouldn’t pay attention. He notes now there are a number of things he didn’t think he would use after leaving school that he has had to use while building Enlight.
He recalled going to school early or late to work with a teacher for one class, and he went in frequently enough that he and the teacher talked about their lives a bit in addition to the coursework, which allowed the teacher to relate the material to Dieumerci’s life experiences.
“At the end of the year, it’s like, oh, this teachers actually starting to be kind of cool,” Dieumerci said.
Enlight is conducting beta testing in the fall and looking for teachers interested in participating. 1 Million Cups Fargo takes place each Wednesday from 9:15-10:15 a.m. at The Stage at Island Park.