• PODCAST: Episode 12 — The challenges of delivering high-quality education in a fluid world


    Welcome to episode 12 of the Art of Learning podcast. 
    We’re joined by Dr Stephen Corbett, Head of School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the University of Portsmouth, to discuss the challenges of delivering high-quality education in an ever-changing, fluid world. 
    We kick off by discussing Dr Corbett’s day-to-day responsibilities as a school head (0:54), the importance of recognising further education managers in the wider education ecosystem (2:27), what the consequences are of sub-par middle management in education (9:28), whether there are inadequate resources dedicated to assist education managers (12:44), the characteristics and traits that make for a successful middle manager in education, and more (16:38). 

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  • Data and its impact on the modern classroom


    As demand for English language learning grows in popularity across Asia, innovations in learning technologies are changing how educators are approaching the challenge of equipping learners with the English skills (and knowledge) required to succeed personally and professionally – in everyday life, in academia and in professional settings.  
    The rise of technology-assisted study – or in other words, pedagogy that is underpinned by technology – allows teachers to obtain and analyse student performance data in near real-time and it allows educators to use the gained learnings to tailor the learning experience to meet individual requirements, and it is having a profound effect on modern English language teaching (ELT). 
    Additionally, as a by-product of technology-driven pedagogy, educators can now leverage education data to provide invaluable insights for learners to help them shape their learning journey, for teachers to understand their cohort’s strengths and weaknesses, and for education leaders to get a clear view on their courseware infrastructure in order to make timely decisions on optimising the wider teaching and learning framework provided at their institution. This current shift is fundamentally presenting data-driven decision-making opportunities in education that simply weren’t possible in previous years. 
    And there are several variables that have allowed for a more data-driven approach to the modern classroom: an increase in training, coupled with the emergence of new technologies, and the implementation of new common standards, to name a few.  

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  • The educator’s playbook 2.0: The role of future skills in the new world of work


    With globalisation, automation and advancements in technology, future skills have never been more important.   

    We gained exclusive access to Pearson’s Jason Gregory (International Director, UK BTEC & Apprenticeships) to gather his insights on the importance of future skills and the crucial role educators play in preparing learners for future workforce demands. 
    So, what’s inside the eBook? 

    • Working together means the world can be a more resilient, capable and inclusive place: the role of all stakeholders working in unison (learners, educators, business leaders and policy makers) 
    • Baking future skills into modern curriculum to enable an ‘always learning’ mindset 
    • The role of educators in developing the future skills of learners 
    • Remaining competitive with up-to-date future skills … plus more! 

    Beat your competitors to it — download your free copy today. 

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  • PODCAST: Episode 7 — Peek inside a blended learning classroom


    Welcome to episode 7 of the Art of Learning podcast.  

    We’re joined by Dr Tran Huong Quynh to discuss the state of English language teaching in Vietnam, the approach to blended learning, and the benefits of modern teaching methods. Dr Quynh is the Head of the English Linguistics Division (Faculty of English) at the Hanoi National University of Education.  

    We discuss Dr Quynh’s background as an educator and the impact Pearson’s curriculum has had on her teaching (1:03), the emerging status of English language learning in Vietnam (2:34), the motivations for learning English in Vietnam (4:28), how Pearson’s approach to English teaching sets learners up for a successful future (6:05), the benefits of blended learning (8:22), the value of having fun while learning English (10:18), the challenges with the online and blended learning model (10:48), the partners Dr Quynh works with to enhance her blended teaching approach (11:57), the impact of COVID-19 on education in Vietnam (13:34), the role of technology in a post-COVID world (15:33), and more. 


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  • PODCAST: Episode 8 — The fairness of algorithms


    Welcome to episode 8 of the Art of Learning podcast.  

    We’re joined by Dr Rose Clesham, Director of Academic Standards & Measurement (English Assessment) at Pearson, to explore the intricacies of eAssessment and the fairness of algorithms, as well as the efficacy of computer-based testing.  

    We discuss Dr Clesham’s experience developing national curriculum tests, as well as diagnostic and formative assessment materials (0:57), the foundations of understanding the validity of assessments (3:46), the latest developments of artificial intelligence in eAssessment (8:11), the cross-cultural challenges of developing and implementing standardised, unified assessments (14:43), the challenges of ensuring that algorithms don’t entrench the biases of human programmers (17:07), reducing learner fears among computer-based testing (23:11), and more. 

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  • Enhancing the learning journey, one data point at a time


    While the idea of using ‘big data’ can seem daunting, it is increasingly asserting itself in the classroom as one of the best ways for teachers and their students to get the most out of course materials, and to customise the learning process like never before. This is especially so in the fast-growing knowledge economies of Thailand and Vietnam, where students are “success-driven and have the goal of better professional opportunities,” Kayo Taguchi, Pearson Asia’s ELT Portfolio Manager, said on a recent episode of Pearson’s Art of Learning podcast.   

    The two countries’ governments and educational institutions are also highly receptive to technology-assisted study, especially in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). This allows the collection of pedagogical data on each individual student – while considering the genuine privacy concerns that surround the collection of personal data in any field – through an ongoing teach-and-test environment. This, in turn, produces learners who are highly motivated and open to constantly evolving teaching methodologies.  

    By combining Pearson’s unique offerings, such as Global Scale of English, educators can use technology to create a holistic program that connects infrastructure, instruction and assessment, innovates the way they teach, and provides a measurable impact on student learning and success.  

    Building on a tried and tested approach  

    Numerous studies have pointed to the efficacy of providing both learners and educators with data that can be collated and analysed to enable individualised learning.  

    According to a study on using big data to enhance learning, data can produce intelligence that can be useful for self-regulating learners and for teachers to adapt instructional designs. Further, advances in data analytics technology allow information to be marked and evaluated in real-time, giving educators the opportunity to customise the experience for each student – and ensure that the learning process is smooth and effective by tracking development and success rates.  

    Pearson has pioneered an efficient and holistic approach that prioritises:   

    • identification of issues
    • constant monitoring through testing
    • sharing of the data, while ensuring privacy, to identify and further refine a learner’s progress  

    Enabling access to granular, actionable intelligence

    The data provided by tests help educators to understand students’ strengths and weaknesses, and other behaviour patterns. This is because tests present the data in ways that teachers can immediately put to use by adjusting their teaching styles, classroom environments and approach to individuals.  

    Experts typically categorise measuring student learning into two buckets: Summative assessments, which include a range of graded activities such as tests, provide a shared and consistent understanding of students’ achievements. Formative assessments include day-to-day classroom practices that help teachers and pupils understand what has and has not been learnt, and implement actions to address this on an ongoing basis. 

    “What has evolved is the concept of why you are testing and what purpose is the test serving,” says Stuart Connor, Pearson Asia’s Qualifications & Assessment Director. “The best assessments help teachers focus their testing, manage mixed ability classes, and identify and correct student mistakes more easily.”  

    There are a number of factors that have allowed this more data-driven approach to the classroom – an increase in training, coupled with the advent of new technologies which allow educators and administrators to move seamlessly between resources and tests, and the implementation of common standards.   

    This allows them to connect the dots between “assessment-of-learning” and “assessment-for-learning” – essentially the difference between learning for the purpose of testing, and testing for the purposes of improving the learning process.  

    For instance, tools such as in-classroom online polls enable teachers to gauge in real time students' engagement levels and their grasp of the concepts being taught. And as remote learning applications have taken off in the age of the coronavirus, these apps are incorporating such polling features to allow instructors to continue gathering data on student performance despite the lack of physical interactions.   

    The “game changer” is that by using technology, teachers and students are able to “do something with the results,” says Kayo. “We’re able to answer the question: ‘What steps should I take next, what should I do?’” This can be explicit, she says, pointing to a specific skill, or more subtle, such as a change in teaching style. “Learning becomes a bit more focused when you link the courseware and assessment together.”   

    Educators are also acquiring the ability to impart training, gather data and analyse performance remotely, something that is increasingly becoming important. “We're having to completely change our teaching methodologies due to the coronavirus pandemic, as we move at unprecedented speeds towards remote and online learning,” says Stuart.  

    Monitoring success at all levels  

    The gathering and assessment of data happens at multiple levels. “Data analytics become very important to drive quality,” says Stuart. “From a learner’s perspective…just to see where you are, how you’re performing, against the KPIs, the goals you set yourself – how much additional work you’d need to do and what specific activities you’d need to carry out to reach your goals, to be able to click a button and see that, in number form or in graphs, is really impactful.”  

    Similarly, it allows teachers to understand whether they’re on track compared with their lesson or semester planning. At a macro level, a department head can see how different classes are performing, giving more control and ability to measure quality and drive improvements, ensuring no individual, class or even educator falls behind.   

    “For an institution, if they’re looking to make an investment in technology, in resources or assessments, this tells them if there’s a return on that investment because they can measure how well their learners are improving their English, so the data is extremely powerful,” says Stuart.  

    Harnessing data for the power of learning, to make sure that every student is given the chance to capitalise on their strengths and have their limitations acknowledged and addressed, is a key development in the way teachers teach, and can have lasting impact on how ELT classrooms are designed and implemented. 


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  • The educator’s playbook: Teaching critical thinking in today’s world [FREE DOWNLOAD]


    Critical thinking is one of the most sought-after skills in the modern era – many thought leaders argue that it is number one on the list in terms of future skills. Educators must play a leading role in teaching critical thinking skills to today’s learners as part of their curriculum and wider teaching methods.

    In this asset, you will find exclusive, actionable insights from critical thinking experts who have conducted years of research on the topic.

    So, what’s inside the eBook?

    • An analysis of the research on critical thinking
    • Tips on how critical thinking can be taught today
    • The importance of critical thinking
    • A deep dive on measuring critical thinking and the role of technology
    • Insights for tailoring critical thinking teaching to the individual
    • And a breakdown of the cultural and global challenges of teaching critical thinking

    Beat your competitors to it – get your free copy today. 

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  • Online vs. blended learning: which is better?


    In the times before technology, traditional teaching methods were heavily reliant on print-based material, as classwork was done from a student book and in turn homework was completed in a workbook.

    It's a proven approach, and fundamentally the anatomy of the classroom hasn’t changed all that much. What’s different now, however, is the prevalence of technology and its place in the world of education. As technology advances around us, so does the way we teach and learn.

    Cassette tapes were leveraged as an education tool in the 1970s and 80s, and we then transitioned to the computing advancements of the 1990s, which made way for more sophisticated use of laptops in the classroom setting.

    As such, we saw the possibilities of online teaching methods emerge as a new teaching approach that could complement face-to-face learning.

    While the technology at the time was limited, it signified a landmark moment in teaching. Educators realised that teaching and learning can be done outside of the classroom and holds vast benefits for learners.

    In the context of English language teaching, there are a number of variables that are changing the way learning is done, and they are as follows: learner appetite for on-demand access to information is as high as ever; competition for attention is fierce; and of course, the evolution of technology is as rapid as ever.

    Ultimately, the way we learn is not linear and everyone has their own learning journey, so the challenge for teachers crafting their approach for modern English language learners remains – what is the best approach?

    Enter online learning and blending learning. Brick and click, tailored learning, digital learning, and so on. We often hear of these terms, but it’s not always clear on how this looks, feels, and functions in practice.

    Let’s dive into the online learning approach

    What is online learning? This approach is essentially a learning environment that exists online. Learners can practice at their own rate, do their homework in their own time, and self-direct their learning.

    Kayo Taguchi is Pearson Asia's English language teaching (ELT) portfolio manager, and she says that the most beneficial aspect to the online teaching approach is the higher volume of data to tap in to, and so that means being able to track progress, analyse the numbers behind learner patterns, and in turn apply learnings. 

    “Teachers are creating online classroom environments, where they're doing interactive activities such as: polling, breakout rooms and other team-based activities all online. What this is presenting is an opportunity for students to transition to do their homework outside of the classroom, and even go that step further to do additional study in their own time because the online environment makes it possible.”

    While the online learning approach allows students to get creative with their approach to doing homework and extracurricular study, there are challenges associated with the online-only approach.

    For Kayo, this approach is reliant on access to technology, a sound internet connection, and disciplined learners.

    “There's the technology side of things when we’re learning and teaching online, for example, when people are accidentally on mute, or if learners don’t have computers, or their internet isn’t holding up, or they're looking at other things on their phone – that kind of general challenge is present.”

    And for teachers, there’s the administrative considerations of getting the classroom online and some level of platform upskilling to understand how to get the most out of the online classroom environment.

    Kayo says that with a little bit of training and a clear plan in place, the online teaching approach can be very effective.

    “For example, if learners have missed a class then teachers can provide a recording of the online experience or a PDF that provides an overview of the lesson. And during unprecedented times like we have experienced with COVID-19, you can access courses from anywhere, and you don’t need the physical classroom.”

    So, what about the blended learning approach?

    As the name suggests, blended learning is a mix between two methods that is as follows: traditional, face-to-face learning and online learning. If we visualise it in the context of a Venn diagram, it looks like this:

    • Region A denotes online learning
    • Region B denotes face-to-face learning
    • The union of A and B denotes blended learning 
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  • INFOGRAPHIC: A beginner’s guide to PTE Academic


    The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE) is a globally recognised English language assessment test.

    PTE provides test takers the fastest and most flexible way of proving their English language proficiency for university admissions.

    It is also ideal for helping English language learners in their pursuit of professional excellence.

    The infographic below outlines everything you need to know about the PTE. 

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  • How data and analytics are changing the way we learn the English language

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    As demand for English language learning continues to grow in popularity across Asia, innovations in learning technologies are changing how educators in the region are approaching the challenge of equipping non-native speakers with the proficiency required to succeed in academia and the professional world.   

    The increased functionality of tech-assisted study, which allows teachers to collect and analyse student performance in near real-time and use that data to customise the learning experience, is having a profound effect on how teachers and students are approaching English language teaching (ELT), and some of the region’s most enthusiastic language learners are benefiting.  

    Emerging economies such as Vietnam and Thailand have an especially “huge demand and appetite for language learning,” driven largely by the recognition that being able to comprehend and converse in another language, particularly English, is a powerful driver for, primarily, career advancement, says Stuart Connor, Pearson Asia’s Qualifications & Assessment Director.  

    The governments of both countries are recognising this demand and are shaping their English language and vocational curriculums to give their citizens the helping hand they need to prosper in the global economy. They are “acutely aware of how important English is going to be to future prosperity, to driving a growing economy, and to attracting more foreign direct investment,” says Stuart.  

    Of course, preparing learners of English for a successful future call for the right course materials, learning environments and qualifications. This includes setting high benchmarks for success, such as using materials based on international ESL (English as a Second Language) standards and aiming for a level of B1, or intermediate, level as measured in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), according to Stuart.   

    Deep dive into data

    As commendable as these ambitious targets are, the following questions remain:

    • At what level are students starting their language-learning journey?
    • Is there enough time to get students to the level expected by the time they graduate?
    • Are teachers sufficiently qualified or skilled to be able to teach the skills that need teaching?
    • Do teachers have the resources they need to be able to drive improvements?  

    To that end, gathering and analysing learning and proficiency data is increasingly becoming part of an educator’s toolbox. Each student has their own needs, and it's important to have individual learning pathways, points out Kayo Taguchi, Pearson Asia’s ELT Portfolio Manager. Knowing exactly what a learner’s true level is, and having clear goals for progress over a specific period of time, are key to managing their language development.   

    “Everyone learns at a different pace. In the same class, you could have slow learners as well as fast learners,” says Kayo. “Each of them has different strengths and challenges and these need to be addressed.”   

    This is made possible by the continuous collection and analysis of data, which can identify strengths and weaknesses at a granular level. When this information is fed back into the learning process, it helps to create a feedback loop that enables the creation of a unique, customised and effective learning experience for the student. As Stuart notes, “The feedback cycle of teach, learn, assess – it's just ongoing.”  

    Having that level of insight, Kayo says, is key to keeping students enthusiastic and inspired to continue learning. “Being able to identify an individual’s strengths and challenges will help educators build student motivation,” she says, adding that tech-assisted learning environments can be invaluable to the process.  

    The future of language learning  

    So, how does technology assist educators in the quest to teach better? “Pearson uses a range of tools, including artificial intelligence, to gather and analyse data on the learning process in order to decipher patterns and create portraits of a classroom and its individual students at scale and at speed,” according to Stuart.   

    Pearson’s data-driven analytics abilities mean that it can capture highly specific details, and present the information quickly and in a way that teachers can understand. They can then use that knowledge to make better decisions around how they teach, and how they focus and curate each learner’s approach.   

    For instance, Pearson uses machine learning to rapidly and accurately score tests and break down each student’s performance by skill, even speaking skills. And if a learner has a specific weakness say, at a certain level of speaking in a certain context, there will be feedback and recommendations as to which particular sections of the courseware can effectively address this particular gap in their skill level, all powered by technology, all without human intervention.  

    Educators are also acquiring the ability to impart training, gather data and analyse performance remotely, something that is increasingly becoming important. “We're having to completely change our teaching methodologies due to the coronavirus pandemic, as we move at unprecedented speeds towards remote and online learning,” says Stuart.   

    Pearson is adapting to the new ground realities of an increasingly digital world by integrating assessments into courseware that can be accessed digitally through the company’s learning platforms.  

    Ultimately, it’s clear that however the world may look when we return to a “new normal”, the influence of technology and data on pedagogy is real and here to stay.   

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  • PODCAST: Episode 1 – Is the “buy the book, take the test” approach still relevant?

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    Welcome to episode 1 of the Art of Learning podcast, brought to you by Pearson Asia.

    In this episode, we're joined by Kayo Taguchi, Pearson Asia's ELT Portfolio Manager, and Stuart Connor, Pearson Asia's Qualifications and Assessment Director, to discuss why it’s important to link courseware with assessment, and how such an approach produces better testing outcomes across a range of qualifications.

    We dive into the impact of COVID-19 on their day-to-day roles (1:16), the appetite for English language learning across Asia (2:22), whether traditional teaching methods are outdated (4:51), the concept of linking courseware with assessment (8:18), the impact of data and analytics on teaching and learning (11:48), and we put a bow on the discussion by sharing advice and strategies for adapting to the modern world of teaching (15:42).

    Listen now.

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