Technology is ramping up the possibilities for out-of-school learning, predicts Mike Petrilli.
Venture capital is flowing into “apps, games, and tutoring platforms that are ‘student-facing’ and being sold direct-to-consumer (or available for free),” he writes.
Khan Academy was drawing 6.5 million unique users per month in the U.S. in 2014, according to a study by SRI.
I’m particularly intrigued by its new partnership with the College Board, which allows students to use their PSAT or SAT results to find free, targeted help through Khan Academy. In the lead-up to the new SAT, administered for the first time in March, over one million students used Khan’s official SAT practice modules. And it wasn’t just affluent kids in hothouse high schools logging on; usage was even across all major demographic groups.
For young kids, PBS Kids provides video content, games, and interactive features, writes Petrilli. His eight-year-old son “has learned much more science from Wild Kratts and the like than from the Montgomery County Public Schools.”
Other good sources are Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr. and National Geographic, both for videos and for interactive activities. Tinybop has created several “strange and beautiful” apps that make learning fun for preschoolers.
Older kids can get a lot out of Ted Ed or the Art of Problem Solving or Duolingo (for learning languages); many younger kids enjoy the Age of Learning’s products. . . . We at Fordham have even tried our hand at compiling good streaming videos from across the interwebs. And of course, don’t forget about the learning potential of games like Minecraft.
Funders and reformers could offer their own content-rich curriculum with “videos, games, social interactivity, Petrilli writes. “Not surprisingly, that’s what the “teach coding” people are busy doing.”
I like Petrilli’s idea for “a website where an elementary or middle school student could enter his standardized test score, and maybe his GPA, and be informed by an algorithm what kind of a college he’d be on track to attend.” Students on the track to remedial community college courses could be pointed to learning resources to help them catch up.
PBS KIDS has announced its summer schedule with new episodes of Ready Jet Go!, Odd Squad and Nature Cat. Parents can find free games, activities, educational apps and videos at pbsparents.org/summer.