“Personalized learning is one of the keys to enhancing future innovation. We know students learn in many different ways and now students can access the content they need that matches their learning style and provides them an effective path to mastery.” – Jim Bowler, USA
If there is one consistent theme here at Daily Edventures, it’s that each student is different. One style of learning may work for one student, but not the next. Flexibility is key for teachers, technology, and learning programs.
As CEO of Adaptive Curriculum, flexible learning is at the core of what Jim Bowler does each and every day. “After being a classroom educator and secondary school administrator for 17 years it was a great opportunity to explore how technology could truly impact teaching and learning,” says Bowler. “At Adaptive Curriculum, I’ve been most pleased with our collective ability to create products that both engage and challenge students. Using real-world math and interactive science modules, teachers can engage students like they never had before. If only I had this when I was teaching algebra, what a difference it would have made.”
With a mission to “inspire students with active online learning, engage them in concept mastery, and motivate them to succeed in math and science,” Adaptive Curriculum is working to transform math and science education to work for all learning styles and each child.
“Personalized learning is one of the keys to enhancing future innovation,” says Bowler. “We know students learn in many different ways and now students can access the content they need that matches their learning style and provides them an effective path to mastery. Technology provides for this and we are just beginning to see what a difference it can make.”
Here, Bowler shares his experience and vision of working in both education and technology, and how he sees a future where no matter what their learning style, each child can excel.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
When I visit classrooms now and see our math and science products in use, I see students who formerly struggled, now mastering difficult concepts applying their learning to their daily life. I also gain great pleasure in seeing students develop interest in science and math or potential career consideration.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
When trying to transform math and science teaching, it is also important to consider how to retool teachers to take full advantage of technology. Innovative leaders know that only by implementing such a program can a program be successful.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
Technology has been my focus for the last 15 years. By using technology we can individualize instruction and allow the teacher to focus on what the teacher can do best: and that is facilitating real learning.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are
receiving a quality education?
The biggest obstacle is often providing the right professional development for teachers so that they can truly benefit from advances in technology and pedagogy. Many teachers are open to new approaches but are so busy with current responsibilities they don’t have time to devote to learning new methodologies. Professional development needs to take advantage of face-to-face time, online webinars, and onsite coaching and mentoring.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
In the last few years in the United States, math education has been the focus in K-12. We collectively as a country recognize that in order to stay globally competitive and be a leader in innovation in the world, we must better prepare our students to pursue math and science careers. New STEM programs are focusing these efforts and should be encouraged as much as possible in schools.
What conditions must change in your country to better support education?
In the US we really need to solve the equity issue with technology in schools. Most fast food restaurants currently have more technology on their counters than teachers have in their classrooms. We must find ways to equip all students with the appropriate tablets, laptops or devices that will allow them to learn more effectively and prepare them for college and careers.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
With the launch of Windows 8 and what we will soon see in many new devices, particularly tablets, it’s a unique opportunity for students to interact with engaging software in the classroom, after school, and in their homes.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
Never give up. Sometimes in your early years the challenge of teaching overwhelms teachers. But when you see the changes you make in the lives of individual students, you realize you are making a difference. Keep a scrapbook of those notes, letters, and cards, and over the years you’ll be surprised how much it grows.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
A mobile device capable of accessing the Internet, allowing for communication with peers and providing tools for innovation and creativity.
About Jim Bowler
- Birthplace: Bronx, New York
- Current residence: Scottsdale, Arizona
- Education: BA University of Notre Dame, MA San Jose State University
- Website I check every day: CNN, New York Times
- Person who inspires me most: politically, John F. Kennedy
- Favorite childhood memory: Visiting Disney World for the first time and being amazed with the robotics, attraction and experience
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): New York
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? Watching Jon Stewart critique presidential debates because only a comedian could truly appreciate American politics
- Favorite book: Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs
- Favorite music: Pink Floyd
- Your favorite quote or motto: “Play like a champion today” – Notre Dame