Thursday, April 28, 2011

Investments in Digital Teaching Tools

According to Vicky Phillips, director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s College Ready program, teachers frequently express the need for more engaging teaching tools that deepen learning, allow them to differentiate instruction to students’ needs, and align with what students must know according to the Common Core State Standards. (Instructors, do these sound familiar to your needs in your own classroom?)

In response to the needs expressed by teachers, the Foundation announced yesterday that they are pledging $20 million to the development of tools and programs that approach instruction in new ways and that implement the technologies students use. New teaching tools that meet Common Core State Standards will incorporate games, the Web, social networking, interactive tests, and other digital formats.

The investment by the Foundation will benefit science, math, and language arts instruction.

With its investment in better teaching tools, the Gates Foundation is working with the Pearson Foundation, the Florida Virtual School, iRemix, Educause, and other organizations that build digital curriculum materials.

In the Foundation’s press release, Phillips said, “These new cutting-edge applications have the potential to inspire students and engage them in the way they naturally learn, while giving teachers the flexibility to be creative in their craft and customize tools to their students’ needs.”

TestOut has a very similar goal. We’re working to develop interactive tools to train students in technology and engage them in learning with methods they respond to, such as videos, hands-labs, and online exams with instant feedback.

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