Kindergarten In The Computer

August 7, 2012 | By
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The notion of online education for the Crayola set can strike adults as absurd. But for kids, even little ones, it’s the idea ignoring computers all day that sounds crazy. After all, if you ask a third grader to list his favorite things, “doing stuff on the computer” will rank high, probably somewhere between race cars and string cheese.

What most people envision when they think of online education—a college or high school student sitting at a computer all day at home, perhaps with minimal parental guidance—isn’t viable for the vast majority of families with young kids. Warehousing is a dirty word in education circles, but the truth is that it must be part of the package. Kids need somewhere to go during the day, preferably to hang out with other kids. They also need a bunch of adults there to keep them from killing one another and help them learn something.

But those requirements leave a lot of room for experimentation. And one of the most fruitful avenues is blended learning, in which kids do some of their schoolwork in a traditional classroom, but then do real educational heavy lifting with the help of online tools.

One of the biggest brands in educational innovation is KIPP, the system of charter schools that caters primarily to poor kids in tough neighborhoods. KIPP’s results are impressive, with standardized test scores well above comparable schools and astonishingly high college matriculation rates.

But in the midst of the country’s most photogenic and terrifying budget crisis, California has repeatedly rejiggered school-funding formulas, effectively cutting funding to a new KIPP school in South Los Angeles by $200,000, which pushed classroom sizes well above KIPP’s preferred 20. So in an effort to maintain the individual-attention model that has made KIPP famous, this L.A. program decided to try something newer, cheaper, and possibly better.

Read the whole story:  Slate Magazine


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Category: TECH, YSK

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