How International School Neustadt uses CENTURY to personalise learning

Posted on 31st March 2022

Posted by CENTURY

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International School Neustadt is a private all-day school, with students from 20 countries across the globe. It is operated by SBW Haus des Lernens, one of the most prestigious private educational companies in Switzerland with 40 years of experience in private education and 15 schools worldwide. 

We caught up with School Principal Vjeko Kovac to find out why they chose CENTURY, how it has been implemented, the impact it is having and what the school's plans are for the future.

The introduction to CENTURY

I was listening to Spotify with a colleague as we were working one day, and we started to talk about how it always knows what kind of music we want to hear. The conversation moved onto whether there could be a platform like Spotify, but for learning materials. 

I happened to be doing some research on the world of edtech for our parent company ‘SBW Haus des Lernens’ at the time, and when I came across CENTURY, I realised that it is just the kind of platform we had been talking about! 

So we decided to get in touch with CENTURY, and I then had the opportunity to visit some schools in the UK, which was really helpful to see how they had successfully implemented it. 

At International School Neustadt, we firmly believe that every child is unique and that we need to value and foster their personal passions and talents. So our school really focuses on individual development, and I think that CENTURY has a very similar approach to us, including through differentiating content, and tailoring education to meet the individual needs of each student.

Onboarding and ongoing support

The onboarding process was perfect. We weren't that flexible in terms of when we could do the training workshops, as we needed to align this with our scheduled professional development days, but CENTURY was very flexible with us and made it work. 

We received a lot of support in terms of curriculum mapping, an outline of how our programs fit in with CENTURY’s offer, and really useful user guides with a lot of templates for letters for staff and parents. For example, they had templates for letters to parents regarding data protection, which we had received a lot of questions about, so that was really useful. 

In terms of ongoing support, whenever we have a question, we get an answer within 24 hours. We also had some new staff members who joined the team after our initial training sessions, so they needed to be trained separately, and CENTURY happily arranged this for them. The customer service at CENTURY has been perfect for us.

How CENTURY is being used

We are currently using it with our students in Grades 5 to 10, predominantly for homework, internal assessments, and our autonomous learning periods. Within these periods, students can work on nuggets assigned by their teachers, or they can work on their individual pathways if they've covered all the required work that they have to do. 

Measuring CENTURY’s impact

When we started to implement CENTURY, we spoke to the staff about what our goals were with the platform with regards to personalising learning for our students, making sure that they engaged with it and reducing teachers’ workload. To assess progress against these goals, we regularly review the usage reports provided by CENTURY, alongside the results of student and teacher questionnaires which we developed and update once per term. We have now gone through this process several times, and the results have been even more positive than we initially anticipated.

On average, our teachers say that the platform saves them about two hours per week in admin time. 

That is really interesting to us, because time is something that teachers never have enough of. We lose a lot of time as educators in grading papers and differentiating content and so on, and CENTURY has really helped us out with that element.

Our teachers also feel that the platform adapts really well to learners’ individual knowledge gaps. That was a little bit difficult for us to measure when we first started using CENTURY, because you need students to spend some time working on the platform before you can say with confidence whether or not it’s helping bridge these gaps effectively. 

In our second student and teacher survey, we started focusing on how well the system identifies and helps us fill those knowledge gaps. The results were very positive - no small feat, given the fact that we have such a diverse student body, with  65% of our learners coming to us from schools with different curricula. 

What students think of CENTURY

The majority of our students are really happy to use CENTURY. The older ones, who are a little more mature, really understand the benefits of using it. The younger ones might not understand the technical side of it as well, but they enjoy other aspects of it - like the badges - so they're motivated to use it too. We don't have any difficulties in trying to get them to engage with it.

They do still view it as work because it is still something that is an obligation for them, but when asked what kind of homework they would prefer to have, they’re quick to choose CENTURY.

The benefits of CENTURY in an international school setting

CENTURY has been particularly helpful for us when new learners come to us from different countries. For example, we have students arrive from Japan, the UK and US, where the math curricula are quite different. This makes it really hard to assess where their knowledge gaps are compared to the programs that we offer, but CENTURY has been a valuable tool in helping us accurately assess this. 

It has also been a useful tool for our English as a second language students. With regards to maths and science, it can be very difficult for teachers who are not language experts to differentiate learning for ESL learners, but teachers can use CENTURY to assign nuggets for those learners that are of the right level for them. So the platform makes it really easy for teachers to always have something appropriate to assign those students to work on that will help those learners to build up their vocabulary. 

With regards to English, it is especially helpful for students who are starting to transition away from our ESL program into our regular English lessons. These students still have a lot of work to do in order to be able to follow the content in lessons, and CENTURY allows them to keep working on their language skills independently. So it has been quite valuable in that regard.

Plans for the future

We mostly use CENTURY with the older learners at the moment, but we are interested in getting some of our younger learners on the platform as well. So we’ve recently started using it in Years 5 and 6 and we’re currently looking into how it could work in Years 3 and 4 as well. 

At the moment, CENTURY is just used as an internal assessment tool, but we're also looking at using it to carry out mandatory assessments for new students when they join the school to assess their knowledge gaps. It’s a very objective assessment tool so that’s something we’re very interested in doing going forward. 

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