February 1st, 2009
In a recent post, Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times writes about a new website called DreamBox Learning that helps teach children math through a series of interactive games. Using technology inspired by Amazon.com’s feature that generates suggestions based on a user’s previous purchase and searches, DreamBox tailors the lessons to each individual student’s skills and progress.
While the program itself is certainly worthy of note and discussion, Miller also makes another really interesting point that addresses the overall idea of “e-learning.” “Education,” she writes, “is one area that Internet has not yet transformed.”
The Internet has some amazing capabilities as a learning tool, but many educators have largely ignored its potential. In fact, schools tend to go in the opposite direction, limiting students’ access to computers or imposing time constraints. Certainly schools are justified in some of these restrictions that promote healthy online experiences, but the resistance educators have to employ new and innovative educational online programs and tools in the classroom indicates that they are not eager to explore this new terrain.
However, by refocusing our approach to the Internet in schools, we might find, as DreamBox has, that e-learning creates both a thus-far untapped market for developers and a new, interactive method of teaching our students.