North Kenwood-Oakland school on the South Side of Chicago is trialling a new next-level technology based learning environment, in which 40 children aged 5 to 6 are using a new computer software called Reading Eggs. It allows those who are more advanced in the class to read at their own level without being held back by lower achievers, and those less advanced can catch up without the pressure of everything moving too fast for them.
As they complete tasks within the software, the cartoon map displays their individual progress in reading and writing. As they progress through the tasks, the children can collect eggs, which can be used to buy items in the ‘game’ such as new furniture for their avatar’s home. The children have intervals where each is taken aside for a reading period with a teacher, whilst for the rest of the time they are all left to quietly work through the software which the teachers monitor.
The director of the school says that blending software with human intervention in teaching helps pupils to learn at a much faster rate, and allows teachers to spend more time teaching and less time having to mark written work. There is also the benefit of being able to keep a much more accurate record of each individual child’s learning progress and performance as the software provides data to be analysed.
Of course there have been claims of technology improving the learning environment before, which the 1990’s dot.com boom leading to schools spending a small fortune on installing computers in classrooms to find that the results were nowhere near as spectacular as expected. They may not have done all the amazing things they were supposed to, but you do have to admit that computers have made classrooms more efficient and they do keep pupils engaged better than before.
So you have every right to be sceptical about this new technology wave in schools, as it is still in its infancy and we have been disappointed by technology in schools before, but there are plenty of reasons to be quite excited about the prospects of this new wave.
Teaching has never been personal or tailored to each student, it has always been a mass medium, which over achievers and underachievers having to find their place with the rest as schools cannot afford the extra teachers to accommodate each child’s individual needs. This new technology could change all that, with progress monitoring and tailored programs allowing each child to perform to their best ability and progress at a rate that is ideal for them.
This type of learning, deemed ‘adaptive’, is not the only advantage of learning with technology. Online resources, from podcasts to training videos and online learning environments are allowing not just children but adults alike to pursue education.
Oxford College of Marketing for one have already embraced this technological advancement in their distance learning. We can now offer CIM marketing courses to students anywhere in the world via the use of our exclusive online learning portal and educational and training videos, and our interactive webinars.
We believe that advances in technology mark the future for education, and whole heartedly welcome the advancements that enable us to make education more accessible to everyone.