2024 eSpark Roadmap Update: What’s Happening This Year?

A minimalist image featuring three priorities laid out like a roadmap, with a pen laid across the top border.

Phew! 2023 was arguably the busiest year ever for eSpark, but we have no intention of slowing down. Raise a glass, put up your new calendars, and buckle up, because big things are coming on the eSpark roadmap this year. Let’s celebrate the new year together with a sneak peek at what’s on the way.

Note: In the interest of transparency, we know better than to set anything in stone. If any of these timelines or ideas come across as a little vague, it’s only because we need a buffer for a pivot here and there.

eSpark Writing

Better support for writing instruction has long been at the top of teacher wish lists. This critical instructional need is rarely supported on a systemic level, and many of the teachers we’ve talked to are largely unaware of what resources are available. You’ve also told us that writing time is too often put on the backburner in favor of math and reading, but you would find more time if you had the right tools and support. There is clearly a profound, near-universal need for something better.

We’re pleased to officially announce that the “something better” you’ve been waiting for is not just on the eSpark roadmap, it’s coming very, very soon.

A screenshot of an early eSpark Writing prototype. This is still in development and will likely look different upon release.

eSpark Writing is still in the prototype stage, but is slated for initial release as soon as February. We’re testing it with teachers and students throughout the country to ensure it meets the needs of the classroom and is engaging for students. While we expect to continue building this out over time, the core functionality for eSpark Writing will be:

  • Students select from personalized writing prompts based on informational articles in their personal Choice Texts Library.
  • Students engage with a fun “writing tutor” bot to draft, revise, and publish their work (beginning at the sentence level).
  • Students receive real-time feedback and instruction to guide them through the writing process.
  • Student writing activities will be aligned with specific writing and/or language standards. Note: we anticipate writing standards to come first in the release schedule.
  • Student writing work will be accessible in the teacher dashboard.

New Admin Dashboards

We closed 2023 with a phased rollout of our new dashboards for district administrators. Now, we are working to bring similar functionality to the much larger group of school administrators. For context, we have traditionally invested most of our development resources into the teacher and student experiences. As we continue to grow, we acknowledge the need for easy, high-level data analysis for project leads and decision makers.

With these dashboards, principals, curriculum directors, department heads, and other critical stakeholders will have immediate insight into how eSpark is being implemented. This includes where students are making progress and where opportunities exist for additional coaching and support.

An example of our new district admin dashboard. Educational leaders now have access to clear data on who’s using eSpark and the impact the program is having. They’ll also be able to monitor student engagement throughout the year.

Any educational technology implementation is more effective when it’s a team effort. These dashboards will help strengthen eSpark’s partnerships with increased transparency and collaboration throughout the year. The result will be more administrator awareness, better supported teachers, and improved outcomes for students.

Initial State Standards Alignment Work

Though eSpark started out as a Common Core resource, we have been working hard over the past few years to align our curriculum with the many state standards that have popped up (and continue to be updated) since our inception.

Many of those initial efforts are reflected in the state crosswalks we’ve published here to help support appropriate eSpark use and adoption in non-CCSS states. Our next step on the eSpark roadmap will be to cement that alignment by bringing state standards into the product itself. This will be no small task, but we do intend to begin addressing this frequent request sometime after the end of this school year.

As of now, our intention is to roll these efforts out in phases, beginning with the most high-usage eSpark states and expanding the scope from there. Ideally, we hope for teachers to be able to search for Small Group Skills and measure progress using the labeling and nomenclature you are most familiar with based on where you teach.

Ongoing Improvement of Instructional Content

The 2023 announcement that all student-facing activities now open in eSpark (as opposed to some that required launching a new tab) was met with enthusiastic appreciation from the eSpark community. We intend to introduce even more of our most popular activity types in 2024. These will replace some of the more dated and/or 3rd-party resources in the program.

These efforts from our learning design team will include:

  • Rolling out more playfully personalized Choice Math activities to replace one-size-fits all math activities.
  • Expanding the scope of Numbers Lab, our simple, scalable approach to fluency practice.
  • Meeting the high demand for timely, seasonal content to support skill development in more engaging ways throughout the school year.
  • Making more connections between reading, writing, and interdisciplinary topics on a typical student’s eSpark journey.
  • Continuing to monitor feedback and replace activities that students find less engaging.

Your Feedback Guides the eSpark Roadmap

Do you have an idea for something that would make eSpark more valuable to you? Click the blue chat icon at the bottom-right of your screen or send us a message at support@esparklearning.com. All requests are tagged, documented, and used to paint a clear picture of what eSparkers want. That helps us prioritize what we’re working on throughout the year. We’re all in this together, and we intend to keep it that way.

Ready to see student-centered learning in action?