It’s 7:00 p.m. on a Tuesday. As usual, 15-year-old Dina Yeghiazaryan is seated at a TUMObile with one hand gripping the mouse and both eyes fixed on the TUMO Path — TUMO’s in-house software that students use to create hyper-personalized learning plans and access educational content.
“It gives me direction,” explained Dina. “I choose what I’m interested in and the Path creates a plan for me to follow.”
Students begin their journey at TUMO by logging into their personal TUMO Path account and selecting a handful of our fourteen learning targets to explore at a time. Based on that selection, an algorithm generates the most optimal route for them to take through the program. The journey includes self-learning activities completed directly in the Path and corresponding workshops led by instructors. The learning plan is dynamic and constantly adjusts to their pace, preferences and progress. If a student decides to switch learning targets, needs to repeat a self-learning activity or take a workshop at another time — the software will generate a new path for them with another combination of options.
Very user-friendly, “shat harmaravet,” is how Dina describes the TUMO Path for navigating the program. Since starting her journey at TUMO Yerevan two years ago, she’s completed an entire strand of self-learning activities and workshops in animation, dabbled in game development and is now enrolled in a level two graphic design workshop.
At TUMO, teens like Dina are in charge of their own learning. This principle is woven through every aspect of the TUMO experience. From the pedagogical philosophy — independent and self-driven exploration of a large variety of content. To the physical environment — sit where you want, configure your own chair, seek guidance from roaming learning coaches as needed. And the engine that powers each student’s experience — the TUMO Path — which automates the curriculum, preference matching, scheduling and a student’s progression through the program like a video game.
“Automation is often associated with standardization,” explained Pegor Papazian, Chief Development Officer at TUMO. “Whereas, it turns out, it’s actually the key to freedom, variety and agency. We flipped it around and used automation to give choice in the way that you couldn’t without it.”
In fact, within a two-year period, the TUMO Path can generate hundreds of millions of combinations of self-learning activities and workshops for thousands of students across TUMO’s network in Armenia and abroad. Each learning plan is a suggestion that takes into account a student’s past and present choices, their performance and center-wide scheduling. At any time, students can deviate from the path being proposed and the software will not only respect their choice, but also adapt to it immediately.
“My favorite thing about the TUMO Path is the way it looks,” said Harmick Azarian, TUMO’s Chief of Staff, who spent three years leading the team of engineers that develop the software. “It shapes the student experience. It’s basically an on screen representation of how a student will enjoy their time at TUMO.”
Small, color-coded circles represent self-learning activities — they’re a student’s chance to dip their toes in and learn something new. Longer color-coded cells represent workshops — an extended period of time to dive deeper into subject matter. Like atoms, these different cells are connected by grey lines and form molecules — with changes in topic represented by shifts to the left or right. Together, the sequence of molecules becomes the DNA of each student’s educational trajectory at TUMO.
“I’ve even started associating colors with learning targets because they’re color-coded in the Path,” said Dina with a chuckle. “When I say animation, I think yellow.”
Just as TUMO has evolved since opening its doors in 2011, so has the Path — changing its look, adding more features and increasing its capacity to make the TUMO experience as robust, productive and user-friendly as possible. Students now have a chat box for personal updates, a messenger feature to connect with Learning Coaches and a mechanism to receive feedback from staff on self-learning activities. The Product Engineering team, which is constantly optimizing the algorithm to define the most efficient route through the program, aims to develop its artificial intelligence even further to anticipate what different students want to learn and how they’d prefer learning it — whether through audio, text or visual formats.
“The design and innovation is all about bringing students a sense of responsibility, freedom and control over their learning,” said Pegor.
The TUMO Path and the virtual world it opens to students is a defining feature of the TUMO experience — delivering multimedia educational content to students and giving them the freedom to navigate it dynamically and on their own terms. In the immediate future, students can expect TUMO Path upgrades like a peer-to-peer messaging system and “My TUMO,” a mobile application that brings elements of the path to their pocket. Through the app, TUMOians will be able to check announcements, sign up for workshops and chat with their Learning Coaches.
“The TUMO Path keeps getting better with time. I’m excited for what’s next,” said Dina.