Cypher Learning tailors learning to each student – wherever they are

NEO, a product of Cypher Learning, is a platform that offers a solution for teachers who want to create content, assess learning and process results in one place. Used by schools and universities across the world, NEO offers flexibility and personalisation, so learning is tailored to each student. QA Education editor Victoria Galligan spoke to Graham Glass, founder and CEO of the e-learning company, about the role technology plays in the changing face of education…

Cypher Learning adapts to the ever-changing needs of education

Having grown up in England and completed his degree in computer science, Graham gained his masters in the same subject at the University of Texas at Dallas – and it was in the US that he started the Cypher Learning company back in 2009. A girl uses a laptop with help from mother – Cypher Learning

Graham had spent his early career working in education, teaching computer science at the University of Texas, and found there was a real need for a computerised learning management system (LMS) which could be used by learners across different schools, companies and even different countries.

And this is what Cypher Learning has become – an e-learning company which not only serves education but also corporations and entrepreneurs. Cypher Learning has 3 products: NEO, an LMS for Schools and Universities, MATRIX, an LMS for Business, and INDIE, an LMS for Entrepreneurs. 

NEO LMS is used by academic institutions K 12 to Higher Ed. Graham explains: “Teachers create a class within NEO, which is made up of a collection of lessons. The lessons use the competency-based learning approach and are linked to specific skills.”

The students work through the lessons, submitting work via the cloud on documents they have created, in any format. Together with the teacher’s assessment of practical work, classroom-based tasks and a range of NEO assessments – there are 15 different kinds of assessments, from surveys to essays, debates, pop quizzes, team assignments, and more!– the teacher grades each lesson and eventually the whole unit. 

Graham says: “The teacher can set automation rules, for example if a student is weaker in one area, they can change the difficulty of the module or automatically assign extra tasks. And if a student needs more challenge, the lessons can be differentiated to extend their learning and automatically release advanced modules.”

It is thanks to this flexibility that personalised learning can truly take place. Graham tells me that some US schools are changing the way the school day is structured, with fewer teacher-input lessons and more independent study sessions when children work through their lessons on a device and ask for help when needed – much like a university schedule. 

“Personalised learning means that the pass/fail approach is eradicated – students instead become masters of their subjects and they take as long as it’s needed to work through lessons. Traditional school timetables mean pupils must break up their day in segments and stop whatever they are doing at the end of each lesson to move on to the next subject. 

“With the new approach to education which we’re seeing in the US, students don’t feel this pressure to hurry up and finish and to keep up with the rest of the class. They work at their own pace. There’s a real sense of accomplishment on finishing a class.”

NEO LMS provides an easy way to create engaging courses which students can access anywhere. The platform also cuts down on teacher workload since after the initial set-up of the lessons, marking and feedback can be communicated instantly online and lessons can be reused in the future for new classes.

So, what makes NEO better than other learning platforms? It’s clear that NEO is popular and as a brand Cypher Learning has millions of users across the globe, operating in over 40 languages. Graham says one advantage is that the Cypher Learning team make sure they stay ahead of the game: “We release features quite often faster than any other company. "For example, we’re introducing the use of AI technology so if students need to improve in a particular subject or one aspect of that subject, our recommendations engine would be able to assess their current level of skills and recommend resources such as courses, videos, learning paths, etc on how they can develop their skills and knowledge.”

Another area which Cypher Learning is leading on is offline learning – the ability for students to continue their studies even when they don’t have access to the internet. This will particularly benefit pupils in countries where internet services are not yet widely available – and here in the UK it will help families living in deprivation.

Graham said: “There are more and more people who demand an offline mode and we recently released the first version.”

E-learning is a tide which is bringing change within schools, carrying teachers and students out of the classroom and pushing them deftly towards personalised learning. Having the ability to ride this technological wave made the lockdown period run much smoother. As schools face more home-learning challenges in the medium-term future, Cypher is well-placed to help them continue teaching children wherever they are.

For more information on NEO LMS and Cypher Learning, visit neolms.com.

 

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