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‘It’s about personalization and adaptivity’ in digital learning programs: Age of Learning CEO

The rise in educative technology has been surging since coronavirus has shut down or prevented schools from allowing in-person teaching. Paul Candland, Age of Learning CEO, joins The Final Round to discuss how his company is offering digital solutions for children up to the the 8th grade and what news ways education has to adapt around the coronavirus.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Welcome back to "The Final Round." Well, we're getting close to the end of August. That means that the school year is right around the corner, if it hasn't already started, for so many students across the country. But this year, it's going to be very different, with many children starting the school year from home. So here to talk a little bit more about this is Paul Candland, he's the CEO of Age of Learning.

And Paul, we have seen a dramatic shift in online-only learning or some sort of hybrid model over the past six months. And as we look ahead to this school year and we identify some of the needs of students and teachers across the country, how are you assisting with the changing educational landscape? And also, how can we improve online learning? Because I still think that there is some fear out there that kids aren't going to learn as much at home as they would in the classroom.

PAUL CANDLAND: Yeah, I think the way it's kind of playing out, is that it's really kind of a different situation for kids all across the country. So you have kids who are full-time in school, you have kids who are full-time remote, and you have everything in between. The beauty of what we do, is it's supplemental learning. And it can be done from anywhere. And so if you have a device, if you have an internet connection, you can use our programs, ABCmouse and Adventure Academy are the two largest that we have. But no matter the situation, even if kids are full-time in school, they can benefit from using ABCmouse.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Rick Newman here. I'm lucky, my kids are in their 20s, but a lot of parents are really struggling with having their kids go through this. Do you have any tips for how to get younger kids to remain focused and be perhaps a little more self-sufficient so parents don't have to be continually babysitting them?

PAUL CANDLAND: Yeah, I think it takes a lot of planning. So kids have short attention spans. The younger they are, the short of the attention span generally speaking. And so you have to plan out to kind of change things up for them, mix it up a little bit. Have them do an outside activity, come back inside, have some reading time. And if you mix it up, they pretty much can stay engaged. And I think that's one of the beauties of our product as well, that it's really built to be engaging for kids.

- Paul, you mentioned that you are just supplemental learning, but I'm curious how you've seen the online model change just within the pandemic. We've heard a lot of stories about parents who are coming together to create their own pods so their kids aren't having to learn alone. I mean, what have you seen out where you are in LA in terms of how parents are trying to be a little more creative in how they teach their kids, given that this is likely to last a lot more longer than they initially expected?

PAUL CANDLAND: Yeah, this is really a tough situation for families across the country. You have families who are, most of the parents are working from home. Of course, you have lots of other first responder-type parents that are working outside the home. But generally speaking, a lot of people working from home, and they have their kids there.

And so trying to balance work at the same time is making sure that your kids continue on an educational path is just really, really challenging. So people are getting very creative. They're looking for different alternatives. We have been in this space for over 10 years. And so we are probably the biggest brand in the educational space for kids today. And so naturally, parents have turned to us. It's, and fortunately for us, we've been there. We're stepping up to meet the moment.

I think in this space, back to the earlier question was asked about how can it be more effective, digital learning being more effective going forward, I think it's all about personalization and adaptability in the learning programs. That's definitely where we're going. We're actually accelerating some of those things. And we'll have new products coming out this fall.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, Paul, one thing that keeps getting brought up, is the fact that not everyone has access. So many kids don't have access to their technology or Wi-Fi or a combination of both. And the shift to remote learning, I think, is magnifying this already widening digital divide that we had going on in this country. So as one of the biggest brands, like you said, in this space, what do you think we can do or how can we better bridge this divide that we're already seeing take place across the country?

PAUL CANDLAND: Yeah, this is a huge issue that I don't think is getting enough play right now. As you said, there are kids out there without devices, without access, broadband access. Lots of school districts around the country, including LA County here, are actually preparing devices for kids and sending them home. So a huge number of devices being shipped out to kids. But they, kids will, kids are falling behind in general. And kids without access, underprivileged kids are going to fall behind at a greater rate.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, and certainly something so important and needs to be discussed more. I agree with you that not enough emphasis has been placed on this. But Paul, real quick, just in terms of your business, how big of an uptick or how much has your traffic increased because of this pandemic over the last six months?

PAUL CANDLAND: Yeah, we see more than twice as many kids on our programs than we did last year. So we saw a big spike up in March, and that kind of continued on for probably through June. And then kind of flattened out at this, over the summer. And then again over the last few weeks, as lots of schools have been announcing their plans, we've also seen another big spike.

SEANA SMITH: And well, Paul Candland, we know you're very busy right now, so we'll let you go. But CEO of Age of Learning, great to have you on the show. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us.