Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Can Rocketship Launch a Fleet of Successful, Mass-Produced Schools?

Rocketship Education
John Merrow did a special PBS report on one the new schools in the charter school movement: Rocketship Education. Here you see a learning lab where students work independently on software that is intended to help the youngsters with math concepts.  According to Merrow the lab is not working out and plans are to move the computers back into the classroom.

What was interesting to me is that the students in the video were using a program called Jiji developed by Mind Institute. From my review of the software, I found it to be an interesting, pedagogically sound approach to learning math concepts. However it appears not to be working all that well at Rocketship. Merrow noted that some of kids became bored and would just guess at the answers.
See Mind Institute for details

This is an excellent example of a good program flopping because the context for using it is less than ideal. I think Jiji would work well in the context of a video game or other venue that would provide the motivation for doing the Jiji activities.

I'm glad to see that the Rocketship team is doing away with the learning labs in its current configuration. Smaller clusters of computers in classrooms or even better 1-1 classroom environment would allow for the teacher to do more math coaching in the classroom.

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