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April 9, 2015 / Thinknology

What’s the Story? (of Think60)

It’s a product and it’s a company.

Think60, LLC is an instructional design and content development company focused on Adult Basic Education. It was founded by Mark Moscowitz and Andrea Woodbury in 2010.

After years of experience working in educational publishing and the non-profit adult literacy field, there were 3 things that we kept hearing over and over…and over.

  1. There was a severe lack of materials for adult students at levels 3-6.
  2. Programs across the board were experiencing student persistence problems.
  3. Programs had long wait lists of students wanting to learn but not enough space, funding, or instructors to accommodate them.

As content and design developers, we wondered if there was anything that could be done in terms of innovative instruction and delivery that would address these issues. In 2010, we set out to find an answer. Think60, the product, was born.

The rules were simple:

Rule 1: Content is king.

Adult learners are adults. There is nothing more important than the instructional materials that are provided to them. They are interested in reading the same types of stories and articles as any other adult. Unfortunately, lower-level materials written and designed for kids are often used with adult students because there is nothing else available. The big reason is that most traditional educational publishers do not focus on creating materials for this segment of the market. Therefore, teachers are left to fend for themselves with no other option than to use materials at the appropriate level even if that means 3rd-grade kids’ books from the local library. Publishers that do produce materials for adults mostly focus on high-school equivalency test prep or college transitions. So, first and foremost, Think60 would focus on the ABE and Pre-HSE adults by creating original content that included relevant, engaging topics, which would get them reading. Then the basic skill instruction would be built around that meaningful context.

Rule 2: Technology scares people! 

Higher-ed and K-12 classrooms have been taking advantage of online instruction for years. Students can work at their own pace, on their own schedule, and revisit lessons if review is needed. While we felt that these same benefits would apply to Adult Ed, and could address persistence and wait list problems, technology scares some people off. Implementing a learning management system or a complex software package is often overwhelming to programs, instructors, and students. So, Think60 would make use of an online delivery model so that students can learn anytime, anywhere, but ditch the overwhelming part. There would be no training or licensing required and there must be a very short learning curve for both teachers and students. A simple, intuitive interface would be required. Students would build essential computer skills while they were learning to read, not before.

Seeing no products in the marketplace that met these 2 seemingly simple criteria, Think60 set out to build one. We began with core reading lessons and skills. Our first lesson passage topics included fictional action/adventure, romance, life skills, as well as non-fiction science, sports, biography, and more. We gathered feedback from programs, teachers, and students using the product, to make sure we were meeting their needs. This set the stage for the expansion of subject areas, functionality, and contextualized learning that exists within Think60 today. And we continue to grow our product, with careful attention to our founding principles and customers’ needs.

So, What’s the Story?

Bottom line – we are student-focused. We are teacher-friendly. We are dedicated to changing the way curriculum and instruction is delivered to Adult Basic Education students so that more students meet their goals.

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