Edtech startups flock to the promise and potential of personalized learning – TechCrunch


The rise of remote control The instruction made many parents aware of (and annoyed by) Zoom school’s shortcomings, but for Letha McLaren, COVID-19 brought a revelation: the importance of a headset.

McLaren’s son, who suffers from executive dysfunction, was able to concentrate better through the screen because he used a headset that blocked out other sounds. The device allowed him to hear what the teacher was saying at all times, and better yet, he wanted to pay more attention. McLaren, in turn, learned what her son, a true A student, responds best to.

The overall conclusion for McLaren was that traditional classrooms do not serve all students due to differences in learning and thinking. So she teamed up with longtime friend Suchi Deshpande to help a market of parents who were in a similar boat, trying to find a better format to raise their children. Learnfully is a personalized learning platform that connects neurodiverse students who have conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia with specialists to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Personalized learning has long had a halo. After all, an adaptive curriculum that changes based on a student’s emotional or educational state feels pretty sensible. Why not customize learning for each student, instead of applying the same curriculum to everyone in a class? The easy answer, of course, is that it’s easier to scale the latter, and the former requires more money and time from end users.

Startups like Learnfully, along with Wayfinder and Empowerly, are entering the market with a fresh look at what it means to prioritize a student’s emotions when personalizing education. While consumers and venture capitalists understand the vitality of personalized education like never before, these startups are navigating the long-standing challenges of true integration.

Close the feedback loop

To innovate in traditional learning, additional services for students outside the classroom often need to be adapted. McLaren explained that Learningfully focuses less on the ‘what’ of learning and more on the ‘how’.

“Students may have trouble with math, but that’s because they don’t understand the building blocks that allow them to do some math programs — and so we really focus on the basics, which often comes down to literacy.” The co-founder said the “educational therapy” approach helps Learnfully differentiate from classic tutoring platforms like Wyzant — part of the reason it closed a $1.25 million seed round a few weeks ago.

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