Saturday, July 10, 2010

Turning Eyes Growing Market


Turning Technologies — one of the region’s hottest software companies and the first success story of downtown Youngstown’s emerging high-tech campus — is expanding its focus on educational initiatives that use its technology to improve learning.

The company’s interactive-response technologies increasingly are being used to implement teaching and learning strategies that have been scientifically proven to boost achievement in the classroom, said Tina Rooks, the recently appointed vice president in charge of overseeing the Turning Technologies educational strategy.

“We have always known that students learn better when they engage,” Rooks said. “What we have discovered is that TurningPoint systems can engage students in a way that allows immediate feedback and progress monitoring.”

By allowing assessment and instruction to occur simultaneously, the company’s response technologies have helped prove the effectiveness of teaching methods that previously were too time-consuming to test in a classroom setting, such as pre- and post-testing and differentiated instruction based on students’ varying levels of understanding, Rooks said.

“The technology facilitates these practices that have been known to be valid,” Rooks said. “These theories often have not been put into play.”

Rooks, who has a doctorate in instructional technology, has been working with the U.S. Department of Education to help come up with ideas for implementing assessment strategies.

Turning Technologies initially focused its educational initiatives on customers in the company’s K-12 market. It is now expanding to apply its learning strategies to international clients and other customers using the technology in corporate or nontraditional classroom settings, Rooks said.

“We are finding that quite a bit of our practices are universal,” she said.

Turning Technologies has been expanding its Educational Consulting Team to capitalize on the success of these learning-assessment solutions, said chief executive Mike Broderick.

“We have really gotten to the point where there is a real body of data saying that, when [the software] is implemented in the classroom, it works,” Broderick said. “It is almost beginning to snowball.”

In the past two years, the team has grown from one — Rooks — to seven members. This group, made up of educators and educational experts, work with Turning Technologies’ sales representatives to help customers learn how to use the technology to improve achievement, Broderick said.

Turning Technologies’ educational initiatives represent a major growth opportunity for the company and likely will continue to expand, he said.

“We probably have our products in less than 2 percent of classrooms,” Broderick said. “We think the opportunity for growth is exponential.”

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