How Sylvan Learning is Evolving the Definition of EdTech
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How Sylvan Learning is Evolving the Definition of EdTech

The 40-year-old supplemental and enrichment education brand is a silent trailblazer in education technology

March 19, 2020 // // As education and technology evolve, it’s important for educators to make sure they are using technology in a smart and efficient way to help students.

One of the ways Sylvan Learning is utilizing technology to help its students is through their proprietary program, SylvanSync.

SylvanSync is a teacher led technology delivered program that only Sylvan Learning centers can access. This is not something you can purchase in the Apple store. SylvanSync is used by the teachers and students, and it is powered by logic that customizes each student’s learning plan based on assessment results and adapts to the student based on data from student performance in previous lessons. The customized learning plan dictates which lessons students receive and the order in which they should be taught. The teacher and student use the iPad like a digital textbook to deliver the lessons.

The system works.

Sylvan Learning has partnered with Hypothesi, the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and more to evaluate its methods. SylvanSync’s effectiveness was validated in the white paper, “SylvanSync: A Digital Teaching Platform,” was authored by Chris Dede, Ed.D., the Wirth Professor in Learning Technology at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and John Richards, Ph.D., the President of Consulting Services for Education, Inc. and Adjunct Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The findings prove that SylvanSync has a positive impact on academic achievement, a positive impact on students’ academic mindset, and shows a marked effect on their pace of academic growth.

Several education-related companies have tried to implement personalized learning within the classroom to no avail. The truth of the matter is that every student is different and learns in their own way, and there is simply no way for schools to personalize the learning experience for each and every student. Hence the importance of supplemental educational programs like Sylvan Learning, and within the brand, technology such as SylvanSync.

SylvanSync marked a huge turning point for the brand when it was launched in 2013.

Sylvan Learning had paper-based programs for more than 30 years in its centers, and while these programs worked well, the lack of technology meant these programs were time and labor-intensive, and the result was a pile of books and binders that would be waiting for the students and would impact the amount of content that could be covered in each lesson.

When technology became cheaper and more nimble, Sylvan Learning saw a tremendous opportunity. The company realized that if they used technology the right way, it could be engaging and a powerful learning tool, and something that the tutoring space was not utilizing. That was the hypothesis that triggered the creation of SylvanSync. If they could replicate the success from its paper-based programs and use the technology to create learning plans and deliver content, then teachers could do what they love and do best, which is focus on the students. Sylvan was eager to become a trailblazer in this space.

SylvanSync went through an extensive pilot process before it was ready for general release to all of the company’s locations. They evaluated everything from the productiveness of the user interface to instruction, teacher communication, learning tools, and the educational content. The pilot process was lengthy and meticulous. It proved that SylvanSync was appealing, easy to use, well structured, and most of all – effective.

Technology-based programs are also much easier to adjust and update, which is very important when you have over 750 points of presence like Sylvan does. The payoff has been tremendous with SylvanSync.

They’ve found that their students are making more gains and making them faster with technology than with the paper-based programs. Also, Sylvan tutors love the programs. The in-center tutors are credentialed teachers, and enjoy teaching without having to worry about administrative duties.

Teachers come to Sylvan in the afternoon, often after they’ve finished teaching in their own classrooms during the day. Sylvan provides these teachers with an atmosphere that lets them focus on the students. They form a relationship with those students and work closely with them on their skills. The use of educational technology like SylvanSync streamlines the tutoring session and allows tutors and students to spend more time learning and collaborating.

Sylvan has been forward thinking in the edtech space, but the company still believes that the human element is necessary for building confidence and providing motivation, and they never want to lose it. The teacher will always be at the center of the services Sylvan delivers.

2019 marks Sylvan Learning’s fortieth anniversary, during which they have helped more than four million students. Sylvan knows that leveraging dynamic technology with warm, effective teachers is the best way to foster academic growth.

About Sylvan Learning, LLC

With more than 40 years of experience and more than 750 points of presence throughout North America, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. Sylvan is transforming how students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach blends amazing teachers with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad® for an engaging learning experience. Sylvan also leads the way with Sylvan EDGE—STEM and accelerated courses and Sylvan Prep —college and test prep courses. Sylvan supports families through every stage of the academic journey. For more information, visit or

SOURCE Sylvan Learning, LLC



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