Learning Pods Provide Laurel Springs Students Access to Additional Interaction
Imagine the flexibility of an online education, combined with the social interactions and academic mentorship of a traditional classroom. This is the vision guiding the partnership between Laurel Springs School and KaiPod Learning, which seeks to combine the best aspects of online and in-person education in the form of learning pods.
What if you could move through mathematics at your own pace while still having a coach available for in-person assistance if a problem is particularly mind-bending?
What if you could take a break from your online English class to play some Badminton with friends?
The concept isn’t hypothetical. It already exists through KaiPod Learning. KaiPod provides learning centers where groups of online students gather under one roof to independently complete their schoolwork with the help of a trained educator.
Why Learning Pods Make Sense for Laurel Springs Students
Learning pods rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping brick-and-mortar schools to shift quickly to distance learning while maintaining a group learning environment. Ariel Feigenbaum, senior director of partnerships at Laurel Springs, said working with KaiPod will help Laurel Springs School further its goal of making online education accessible to all different kinds of learners.
"We look forward to working with pod learning groups like KaiPod because they are building alternative ways to incorporate social engagement into the online learning community," Feigenbaum said. "Many students thrive at Laurel Springs as a result of the self-paced learning structure. That said, parents can be hesitant to try online schooling due to the perceived lack of social interaction provided by online schools.”
Laurel Springs embraces efficiency, allowing students the opportunity to move through their course work at a pace that meshes with their learning style while leaving room for academic and non-academic pursuits. This has been a key benefit to the many Laurel Springs students engaged in athletics, pursuits in the fine arts, or other activities that typically require time requirements that might bleed into traditional school hours. Regardless of what other activities they’re involved in, some online students need more socialization in their class schedule to maximize their potential.
KaiPod founder Amar Kumar, a former teacher and school principal, said that’s exactly what his program is meant to do. Kumar, who also served as Chief Product Officer for Pearson’s Online K-12 division, said KaiPod matches about 10 students per center to give ample opportunity for socialization while still maintaining the personal attention of the in-room educator. In a pilot program concluded earlier this year, the KaiPod method provided strong outcomes for its students.
“We had about nine kids in Boston enrolled in online schools, and when we looked at the results of their time at KaiPod, we found they’d made about 12 weeks of academic progress in four weeks at the center,” Kumar said. “They’d basically tripled their rate of academic completion.”
The results hint at the benefits of an expanded online education. The educator present for all KaiPod groups, a professional sometimes referred to as a learning coach, doesn’t teach classes directly. Laurel Springs teachers are still the instructors. However, the learning coach can help guide students through questions and immediately fill knowledge gaps they might hit as they move through a typical day in a digital class.
Ultimately, learning pods allow Laurel Springs parents and education partners to track their students’ progress as the students work directly with their academic teams. It’s another way Laurel Springs provides students and their parents with access to resources allowing them to pursue the educational path that meets their needs.
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