ST Reader alerted me to a story in the Times about Seattle Schools doing a pilot for a new company run by a UW professor, Zoran Popovic who directs the Center for Game Science at UW.
He founded a non-profit called Enlearn with money from (who else) the Gates Foundation. But the Times notes:
Enlearn is developing a commercial application for the interactive technology aimed at the global K-12 market.
It's supposed to a personalized learning/differentiation service for students wherein the students play the "games" on tablets, data goes to the teacher:
"...providing a moment-by-moment progress report on how each student is faring and whether the class as a whole is ready to move on or needs a better explanation."
"The platform, in real time, provides the key misunderstandings and misconceptions for every individual student, which directly informs the teacher about what to do next at that instant," Popovic said.
In other word, turbocharged differentiation.
The Times notes that this was "tested" in 9 sixth grade classrooms at 3 SPS schools. These were 5-day trials.
Sigh. Many questions and thoughts.
Here's what I wrote to SPS Communications on this subject:
- what were the schools?
- who okayed this within the district?
- why was this considered a good use of teaching time?
- was this a voluntary thing for teachers and students?
- did the district get any kind of compensation for testing this platform? If so, in what form and who got it?
Because clearly, someone is likely to be making money off this venture and I would expect - if teachers and students are piloting for this group - that the district gets something out of it. If not, the next time the answer should be no (or not without some kind of compensation especially for teaching time).
Also, there is an issue of how would the district be able to provide every teacher a tablet. Does that then lead to every student needing a tablet? Huge costs.
As for whether it's "turbocharged" anything, I not so sure. Because students "misunderstand" material for many reasons - curriculum, teaching, ability to concentrate in class - that may not be as readily apparent as you might think.
I do think it great if a teacher can see how a majority of the class is thinking (and make any teaching adjustments) or see that a couple of students are consistently struggling (so as to give supports) but I am doubtful about "instant" adjustments. Teachers, you tell me.
My concern is over how many of these groups are now requesting time in our classrooms, who gets in, why, how does it impact teaching and learning and what the district gets out of it.