Boredom in the Classroom—An Education Crisis

Innovation
New video based digital curriculum, powered by leading edge learning dynamics, is helping to make K-12 education equitable for all students
By: 
Cebron Walker

Education in the U.S. is in crisis. Students who use textbooks and memorize are bored stiff. And the teachers who “teach to the test” feel alienated. The old ways of memorization are useless in the digital age. What is clear is that we need compelling interdisciplinary digital education platforms — for students and teachers — that enhances critical thinking and create engagement.

Here are some facts: The U.S. spends $13,000 dollars per year on every one of its 55 Million students in K-12 and that is by far the most spent in the world. But, American students are only 26th in math in the world, 21st in science and 17th in literacy and this disturbing decline continues to spiral.

U.S. public school systems have been losing ground since 1980 (OECD-PISA, 2013). There is a great mismatch between students’ use of digital resources outside the school and the role of digital technology with in the school (Kaiser Family foundation, 2010). Students are less and less engaged as they progress through school (Jenkins, 2012) and a full third of the 3.2M teachers in the U.S. are contemplating leaving the profession (Met Life, 2010.) The education gap is imposing the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession. (OECD, 2013.)

Enter The Madcap Learning Adventure, who recently shared with the Learning Counsel what they have been doing and working on to transform learning. This digital and interactive learning platform is a reimagining the textbook for core K-12 education.

David Devine, Madcap’s CEO and Founder, told the Learning Counsel, “Our goal is very simple—to create increased learning outcomes for students and new teaching experiences for teachers.” He continued, “we’re doing this by engaging kids with exciting digital and pedagogical learning resources, project-based learning and collaborative knowledge creation that is systematically aligned to the CCSS.”

Madcap’s education platform allows the learner to personalize his or her own learning journey with a digital and interactive adaptive module. It creates a non-linear matrix of learning opportunities using the techniques of gaming supported throughout by powerful expressions of the core ideas across the curriculum.

Initially funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a strategic investment from Pearson Education of New York, CEO David Devine and his creative and curriculum team are creating a public and private education platform for the digital age.

Madcap is 100% web-based that is accessible by all ubiquitous computer devices. The Learning Adventure is not aligned with any single hardware supplier or device.

“We believe that as smart phone and tablet technology and computing capacity increases and costs decline, students, parents and teachers will have easy, cost effective access to online curriculum anywhere and at anytime,” stated Devine.

There is no question that education is evolving and that the jobs in the future can only be predicted today. “Our intention is optimistic of course,” stated Devine, “but we believe that Madcap can improve student learning so thoroughly that graduates will soon be able to evolve and create and invent the new jobs needed in the digital age. We believe that our solution will disrupt widely but educate deeply leading America back on the road to renewal and nation building. We intend to greatly transform 21st Century learning across America.”

Test results from a recent independent Pilot study of The Madcap Learning Adventure in Brunswick, Maine and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), conducted by the Centre for Research and Evaluation at the University of Maine, found Madcap providing dramatic improvements in 3 key areas: 1) student learning outcomes improved 20-40% when using the digital and interactive platform, 2) student engagement vastly improved, and, 3) changes to teacher pedagogy that reflected Common Core objectives improved greatly (student-led, individualized instruction based on reflective and adaptive teacher practice.)

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