As it turns out, distracting little kids with bright computer screens may the answer to maximizing their education. New models in use in California are showing how to successfully incorporate computers into elementary schools.Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote an August 7 article for Future Tense – a partnership of Slate, the New America Foundation and Arizona State University – that detailed a new blended learning environment in which classroom control goes back and forth between classroom management software designed specifically for young children and traditional teachers.
“Online learning appears to be a classic disruptive innovation with the potential not just to improve the current model of education delivery, but to transform it,” Heather Staker wrote in a May 2011 Innosight Institute report.
How it works
The model Mangu-Ward highlighted is a hybrid system. For example, a classroom of 30 students may have 15 computers. At any one time, half of the class will be at a computer and the other half will be taught by the teacher. Throughout the day, students rotate between learning from the teacher and the computer. This way, one teacher can more effectively manage a larger classroom.
“The common feature in the rotation model is that, within a given course, students rotate on a fixed schedule between learning online in a one-to-one, self-paced environment and sitting in a classroom with a traditional face-to-face teacher,” according to the Innosight Institute report. “It is the model most in between the traditional face-to-face classroom and online learning because it involves a split between the two and, in some cases, between remote and onsite. The face-to-face teacher usually oversees the online work.”
The classroom software used is optimized for both teachers and students. Teachers are able to track each child’s progress, and can offer more personalized guidance on specific topics. The software is also made with young students in mind, and includes features such as picture-based logins and talking cartoon animals to guide them through each lesson, according to Future Tense.
Schools that have implemented blended learning methods into classrooms have seen dramatic increases in test scores, according to the Knowledge is Power Program. Mangu-Ward wrote that she observed this technology improving classroom relations. She said computers allow for students to better communicate with and help out each other, while also receiving more face time from teachers over the course of a school year.
“[O]nline learning has the potential to be a disruptive force that will transform the factory-like, monolithic structure that has dominated America’s schools into a new model that is student-centric, highly personalized for each learner, and more productive,” Staker wrote.
Are children as young as five too young to learn from classroom management software? When is the best time for students to be first introduced to online learning? Leave your comments below to let us know what you think!