“We have an opportunity to personalize education and adapt learning in a way that wasn’t possible even a year or two ago.” – Bradley Drewyor, USA
Some educators come to the profession by way of the classroom, but in the case of Bradley Drewyor (the husband of a teacher), it was a post-college job that connected him to learning. When he joined McGraw-Hill Education to work on a Spanish reading program, Drewyor found his calling.
In the years since, Drewyor has seen massive changes in the development and delivery of education content – due in large part to technology. Today, he’s helping lead efforts to develop classroom-ready technologies like CINCH Learning for Windows 8, a fully customizable app for grades 5-12 that maximizes the power of interactive whiteboard teaching. CINCH is meant to replace or supplement textbooks, and while it is less expensive than traditional textbook programs, it’s also much more powerful.
“We have an opportunity to personalize education and adapt learning in a way that wasn’t possible even a year or two ago,” Drewyor says. “Content development will become a constant cycle of development, testing, implementation, review, and revision, resulting in a more successful, proven curriculum that adapts to the needs of learners and classrooms around the world.”
CINCH was unveiled at the recent ISTE conference with a demonstration of the program’s flexibility (lessons can be designed to meet any curriculum requirements) and its ability to teach math and science in exciting and engaging ways, using videos, tutoring, animations, labs, assessments and problems.
Drewyor is committed to learning innovation, with a vision based on fundamental concepts like “Education is not about a place, but about learning,” and “Technology in education requires innovative teaching tools, solid instructional design, and effective delivery methods.” We’re excited to see what CINCH Learning can do for learners and teachers, and how Drewyor and McGraw-Hill will continue to push the boundaries of e-learning.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
I always excelled at school and enjoyed education, and I am married to an elementary teacher. However, I never really considered a career in education until after graduating from college. I had the opportunity to join McGraw-Hill Education on a Spanish reading program, and I have never looked back. In my role over the years at McGraw-Hill Education, I have mostly worked on reading and math intervention programs. What this means is that I have good fortune to be able to help design, develop, and deliver programs to students all over the world that have been proven by research to help even the most naïve learners. I can positively influence the lives of students, teachers, and parents all over the world through passion and dedication to building only the best instructional solutions.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
Tom Adams was my high school Spanish teacher. Without his influence and the joy he obviously took from teaching Spanish, I would most likely never have pursued a degree in Spanish. Without a degree in Spanish, I would never have ended up at McGraw-Hill Education. I loved going to Spanish class every day, and I was determined to earn a degree and make a living speaking Spanish. That is exactly what happened, and much of that is because of the fun I had learning a new language in Mr. Adams’s class.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
I certainly wouldn’t be conceited enough to claim to have changed education as a result of what I have accomplished in solution design and development. I know the programs I have worked on have helped students learn; there is research for that around our products, and I am proud to be a part of this work. At the same time, I am excited about some of the products and concepts we are beginning to push forward at McGraw-Hill Education, and I believe strongly we are innovating and developing instruction, resources, and tools that will help teachers and students learn in the evolving digital classroom.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
While it doesn’t sound innovative, and I suppose it isn’t technically innovative, the development and use of content authoring tools that allow us to create content more effectively and efficiently are rather pervasive in publishing. Turning those tools over to teachers and students is a little less so, and that is something I am pushing for with products I am involved in developing. The idea of transitioning students from passive receivers into active participants in their learning at all age levels, not just in high school and college, is really interesting and motivating for me. That is an area, within this educational publishing field, where I want to push the boundaries and see where we can go.
In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?
This is a really interesting question, and one that is difficult to answer, to be completely honest, for the classroom. Currently I would say that the biggest change in education based on these technologies is that they have allowed more participants in the content creation and delivery of educational materials, resulting in both positives and negatives, like all things. As for their true impact on education, I would like to say they are democratizing learning and helping to close the new digital divide, which is marked not as much by access to devices as it is by the ability and knowledge to use tools to build social and learning relationships that are beneficial to learners in both the near and long term.
In terms of my working environment, the proliferation of connected devices, while still not pervasive enough for us to develop resources specifically for mobile learning as the main drivers of curriculum, have afforded us an opportunity to explore new ways of delivering content and engaging learners, educators, parents, and communities in our programs. Building conceptual understanding through hands-on, digitized activities and then demonstrating procedural skills and fluency through a variety of applications of knowledge in math has benefitted greatly from the touch interface of tablets. Similarly, virtual learning tied to connected devices using GPS or science journals transforms dry lessons into interactive learning experiences that lay the foundations for the inquiry process and encourage learners to become scientists and active members of the learning community. We are just scratching the surface, though, which is exciting to me as an instructional designer!
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
The idea of using data to enhance learning, teaching, and content development is unbelievably exciting to me. The days of the static school product are coming to an end, or at least the way we know it. These products are going to be replaced by learning resources that are thoughtfully crafted to constantly report on progress for students, implementation fidelity for educators, and instructional design for developers.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
They are all important, and I have a difficult time choosing one. Collaboration and communication are essential skills contributing to creativity and innovation, and it is tough to be creative and innovative without critical thinking and problem solving, while innovation and creativity are clearly close companions. I don’t think I can choose just one.
It is clear, and has been pointed out quite often over the past few years, that the jobs of the future will require all of these skills to be successful. Innovative solutions, products, and services that are based on solving problems or creating new demand are the economy of the future and where job growth will be found. Building networks of contributors and evaluators will be essential to critically evaluating what those ideas are and how they should be delivered, resulting in success. They are just all tied to closely together to separate in my mind.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Interesting question, and one that has many caveats no matter what the answer is. Ultimately, I suppose that I would lean toward a connected mobile learning with freely available, always connected high-speed Internet connectivity. There are many devices and ways to learn, and with access to the Internet anytime, anywhere, motivated learners will find a way to take advantage of this. I would say that the MOOC experience puts some truth to this statement, as long as you believe MOOCs are actually proving successfully in expanding learning opportunities to anyone motivated enough to seek them out, if they are lucky enough to have access to begin with.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
For many people in the United States, it is always about “the sky is falling.” If you look closely at the numbers, we have not necessarily fallen on international assessments; it’s just that we have long been mediocre on these tests, if we are really being honest. There could be many reasons for that: compulsory education for all children results in learning experiences that are focused on teaching to the middle; less motivated students who are majoring in the wrong types of careers; economic power transitioning back to Asia after centuries of moving toward the east; the lack of a respected vocational training and apprenticeship track here in favor of a varied college load; and many other ideas.
However, we can improve greatly on our promise to educate all students by opening up opportunities to learn in new ways and with different goals and experiences. A focus on science, engineering, creativity, and entrepreneurship for all kids, but through different learning environments, is one way to go about that, allowing individuals to pursue alternate paths to careers is something I would like to see.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
I spoke to some of this above, in a larger context, but the foundation to the new learning models has to be based on the idea that content and information is readily available; rote memorization and facts are important, but education has to go beyond that and more toward giving students the strategies and tools they need to access and leverage information to their benefit. Active participation in learning activities and learning communities have to become cornerstones of every learner’s education. This will require programs and content that center around engagement in a learning experience that adapts to each student’s performance based on continuous data collection, robust evaluation of the data, and remediation and personalization based on this improved data collection. We are starting to see movement in this direction, but it is clear that best practices and infrastructure for implementation are still being researched and built.
About Bradley Drewyor, Sr. Product Sponsor of Specialized Solutions, McGraw-Hill Education
Columbus, Ohio, USA
- Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio, USA
- Current residence: Columbus, Ohio, USA
- Education: Masters of Educational Technology (M.E.T.), Boise State University; M.B.A, Otterbein University; Bachelors of International and Business and Spanish, Otterbein University
- Website I check every day: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/
- Person who inspires me most: My wife (Sheryl) and my children (Grant and Brynn); they drive me to strive for more than mediocrity and teach me something new about the world, myself, or both every single day.
- Favorite childhood memory: Not one specific event, but camping with my family. It was the best 10 days of every year!
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): I would like it to be the Cayman Islands, but it will probably be Orlando for the Florida Educational Technology Conference
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? About an hour ago; someone made a bad joke that no one else in the meeting caught but me, which made me chuckle aloud. I then had to explain what was funny. Anytime you have to start a sentence with, “That’s funny because…,” you know you are in trouble.
- Favorite book: La increíble y triste historia de la Candida Erédira y su abuela desalmada (The Incredible and Sad tale of Innocent Eréndira and her Heartless Grandmother) by Gabriel García Márquez; It was my crowning moment in my journey to learning Spanish to be able to read and comprehend that text without having to read the English companion.
- Favorite music: Pretty much anything but Jazz and Contemporary Country. I have eclectic tastes, other than disliking those two genres.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? The most important thing you have to know to be successful in your career is how to manage your manager.
- Your favorite quote or motto: Hope is not a strategy.