In the crowded market of secondary maths EdTech, there is a new arrival, Arc Maths. We talk to the teacher and EdTech founder, Rachel Dunsmore, about what drove her to create Arc Maths App and why it is needed.
Arc Maths App launched at the start of lockdown. “It was a terrible time to start a business even if it was an EdTech business,” says Rachel Dunsmore, former maths teacher and the driving force behind Arc Maths. “What we are offering is tech for the classroom rather than tech for remote learning – which is what schools needed at that time.” Nevertheless, it wasn’t all bad; Arc Maths App was a finalist last year for Educational App at the prestigious BETT awards and is currently short-listed for Secondary Digital Learning Product at BETT this year.
There are other challenges too. Persuading SLTs why Maths departments need more than one online learning tool is a hurdle to overcome. “I liken it to a ruler and a protractor,” says Rachel. “Different tools for different jobs. Arc Maths has an entirely different purpose to the conventional products available to schools.” Many schools use online maths learning platforms for homework tasks and consolidating what they are currently covering in lessons, whereas Arc Maths focuses on what has previously been taught to stop pupils forgetting and strengthen core skills
The final straw for her came when teaching the same content to year 11 that she was teaching to year 8. “There are pupils that make almost no progress in maths during their time at secondary school. This is because they fail to retain what they have been taught. Even if they can perform the skill during the lesson, they quickly forget. Any teacher knows the feeling of coming back to a topic a couple of weeks later and finding that the pupils are adamant they have never seen it before in their lives. Pupils cannot make progress if they cannot remember.”
This is the problem that Arc Maths is trying to address by drawing heavily on evidence-based research in cognitive science. Using a combination of retrieval practice and spaced practice, Arc Maths delivers twelve questions to each pupil per session depending on how they have answered previous questions. If a topic has been forgotten, the pupil is given additional practice questions immediately and then systematically over the following 3 months with increasing time lapses to secure the knowledge in long-term memory. “10-quick-questions are already a feature of many teachers’ lessons. By combining it with technology, we can do far more than just offer a recap. As a teacher, I can’t possibly mark, collate and provide individual follow-up for every pupil in a way that maximises their learning – but that is exactly what Arc Maths can do.” It is early days but the feedback from schools has been extremely promising.
The initial version of Arc Maths was released for iPads. The touch screen interface allows for the integration of handwriting recognition – “Don’t get me started on maths and keyboards!” exclaims Rachel – and the user experience has clearly been carefully considered. The dashboard is straightforward with a couple of measures to track progress and engage. But the real attraction of Arc Maths App is in its simplicity. Versions for Chromebook and mobile phones are due for release at the end of March.
For more information on Arc Maths App contact email@example.com