Monday, February 22, 2010

Education City

As of today, our district just completed a multi-year purchase for Education City, an online site for students, teachers, and parents to work on basic skills in core subjects . Sadly, we only received training on it today and many teachers stated that it would have been nice to have this before ISAT testing as many of the before and after school groups could have benefited from this site.

With Education City, students can access multiple types of games and activities that are at their specific academic level (these levels can be set by the instructor at the beginning of the program when they input their class lists). As students participate with Education City, questions are modified based on previous answers to either become easier if a student misses or progress in difficulty as they advance. This allows for easy differentiation in a classroom between students.

If you spend some time in Education City, it's quickly apparent why students become engaged in the program. The graphics and animation for the games/activities even excite the teachers (as evidenced by the morning's workshop and more time being spent on games than on attention to the presenter). Teachers are also able to access beginning lesson activities and worksheets to use with students. The lessons and worksheets can also be used with SMARTboards to provide for in-class hands on activities. These activities can even be accessed at home (for a price) for students and their families. Another potential benefit is that all scores are kept and student profiles are created with this information. Until now, our psychologist has been keeping track of this data by hand. Sadly, all of this previous data is unable to be included into the program. Lesson plans address all manner of topics including music and p.e., but only in regards to literacy. (Insert personal gripe here - when will their be programs that include specials in with other programs instead of merely using our information for the purpose of teaching other topics instead of finding any inherit worth on their own?)

All this to say, it will be interesting to find out in the months to come and at the beginning of next year if Education City is merely another fad that will quickly fade into the background as teachers become inundated with the demands of the everyday or if this program will indeed help monitor and aid students in their quest for even greater knowledge.

1 comment:

  1. We have something like this at our school. It is called Study Island. It is similar, but Education City looks a little nicer. I'd have to see it to be sure. But here is what we found.

    We were able to build the sites use into lesson plans during individual learning times such as centers.

    We have both individual stats as well as stats of classrooms and schools.

    Kids like it!

    Good prep for the ISAT.

    They can play at home

    not higher level thinking

    Still limiting in the way you can differentiate

    I think these types of activities have their place in the classroom, but they can't be overused or they both loose their appeal as well as limit higher level thinking. As far as I am concerned, this is not a fad in learning, because it does help us manage student performance in a easier way, I just hope it doesn't take over the classroom!