Educational Technology Isn’t Leveling the Playing Field

Library Kids.

Affluent kids receive more guidance in libraries—new computers or not—than poor kids do.

Courtesy of Shutterstock.

The local name for the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington is “the Badlands,” and with good reason. Pockmarked with empty lots and burned-out row houses, the area has an unemployment rate of 29 percent and a poverty rate of 90 percent. Just a few miles to the northwest, the genteel neighborhood of Chestnut Hill seems to belong to a different universe. Here, educated professionals shop the boutiques along Germantown Avenue and return home to gracious stone and brick houses, the average price of which hovers above $400,000.

Within these very different communities, however, are two places remarkably similar in the resources they provide: the local public libraries. Each has been retooled with banks of new computers, the latest software and speedy Internet access. Susan B. Neuman, a professor of early childhood and literacy education at NYU, and Donna C. Celano, an assistant professor of communication at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, spent hundreds of hours in the Chestnut Hill and Badlands libraries, watching how patrons used the books and computers on offer.

The two were especially interested in how the introduction of computers might “level the playing field” for the neighborhoods’ young people, children of “concentrated affluence” and “concentrated poverty.” They undertook their observations in a hopeful frame of mind: “Given the wizardry of these machines and their ability to support children’s self-teaching,” they wondered, “might we begin to see a closing of the opportunity gap?”

Many hours of observation and analysis later, Neuman and Celanano were forced to acknowledge a radically different outcome: “The very tool designed to level the playing field is, in fact, un-leveling it,” they wrote in a 2012 book based on their Philadelphia library study. With the spread of educational technology, they predicted, “the not-so-small disparities in skills for children of affluence and children of poverty are about to get even larger.”

Neuman and Celano are not the only researchers to reach this surprising and distressing conclusion. While technology has often been hailed as the great equalizer of educational opportunity, a growing body of evidence indicates that in many cases, tech is actually having the opposite effect: It is increasing the gap between rich and poor, between whites and minorities, and between the school-ready and the less-prepared.

This is not a story of the familiar “digital divide”—a lack of access to technology for poor and minority children. This has to do, rather, with a phenomenon Neuman and Celano observed again and again in the two libraries: Granted access to technology, affluent kids and poor kids use tech differently. They select different programs and features, engage in different types of mental activity, and come away with different kinds of knowledge and experience.

The unleveling impact of technology also has to do with a phenomenon known as the “Matthew Effect”: the tendency for early advantages to multiply over time. Sociologist Robert Merton coined the term in 1968, making reference to a line in the gospel of Matthew (“for whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath”).

In a paper published in 1986, psychologist Keith Stanovich applied the Matthew Effect to reading. He showed that children who get off to a strong early start with reading acquire more vocabulary words and more background knowledge, which in turn makes reading easier and more enjoyable, leading them to read still more: a virtuous cycle of achievement. Children who struggle early on with reading fail to acquire vocabulary and knowledge, find reading even more difficult as a result, and consequently do it less: a dispiriting downward spiral.

Now researchers are beginning to document a digital Matthew Effect, in which the already advantaged gain more from technology than do the less fortunate. As with books and reading, the most-knowledgeable, most-experienced, and most-supported students are those in the best position to use computers to leap further ahead. For example: In the Technology Immersion Pilot, a $20 million project carried out in Texas public schools beginning in 2003, laptops were randomly assigned to middle school students. The benefit of owning one of these computers, researchers later determined, was significantly greater for those students whose test scores were high to begin with.

Some studies of the introduction of technology have found an overall negative effect on academic achievement—and in these cases, poor students’ performance suffers more than that of their richer peers. In an article to be published next month in the journal Economic Inquiry, for example, Duke University economist Jacob Vigdor and co-authors Helen Ladd and Erika Martinez report their analysis of what happened when high-speed Internet service was rolled out across North Carolina: Math and reading test scores of the state’s public school students went down in each region as broadband was introduced, and this negative impact was greatest among economically disadvantaged students. Dousing the hope that spreading technology will engender growing equality, the authors write: “Reliable evidence points to the conclusion that broadening student access to home computers or home Internet service would widen, not narrow, achievement gaps.”

Why would improved access to the Internet harm the academic performance of poor students in particular? Vigdor and his colleagues speculate that “this may occur because student computer use is more effectively monitored and channeled toward productive ends in more affluent homes.” This is, in fact, exactly the dynamic Susan Neuman and Donna Celano saw playing out in the libraries they monitored. At the Chestnut Hill library, they found, young visitors to the computer area were almost always accompanied by a parent or grandparent. Adults positioned themselves close to the children and close to the screen, offering a stream of questions and suggestions. Kids were steered away from games and toward educational programs emphasizing letters, numbers, and shapes. When the children became confused or frustrated, the grown-ups guided them to a solution.

The Badlands library boasted computers and software identical to Chestnut Hill’s, but here, children manipulated the computers on their own, while accompanying adults watched silently or remained in other areas of the library altogether. Lacking the “scaffolding” provided by the Chestnut Hill parents, the Badlands kids clicked around frenetically, rarely staying with one program for long. Older children figured out how to use the programs as games; younger children became discouraged and banged on the keyboard or wandered away.

These different patterns of use had quantifiable effects on the children’s educational experiences, Neuman and Celano showed. Chestnut Hill preschoolers encountered twice as many written words on computer screens as did Badlands children; the more affluent toddlers received 17 times as much adult attention while using the library’s computers as did their less privileged counterparts. The researchers documented differences among older kids as well: Chestnut Hill “tweens,” or 10- to 13-year-olds, spent five times as long reading informational text on computers as did Badlands tweens, who tended to gravitate toward online games and entertainment. When Badlands tweens did seek out information on the Web, it was related to their homework only 9 percent of the time, while 39 percent of the Chestnut Hill tweens’ information searches were homework-related.

Research is finding other differences in how economically disadvantaged children use technology. Some evidence suggests, for example, that schools in low-income neighborhoods are more apt to employ computers for drill and practice sessions than for creative or innovative projects. Poor children also bring less knowledge to their encounters with computers. Crucially, the comparatively rich background knowledge possessed by high-income students is not only about technology itself, but about everything in the wide world beyond one’s neighborhood. Not only are affluent kids more likely to know how to Google; they’re more likely to know what to Google for.

Slogans like “one laptop per child” and “one-to-one computing” evoke an appealingly egalitarian vision: If every child has a computer, every child is starting off on equal footing. But though the sameness of the hardware may feel satisfyingly fair, it is superficial. A computer in the hands of a disadvantaged child is in an important sense not the same thing as a computer in the hands of a child of privilege.

The focus of educators, politicians, and philanthropists on differences in access to technology has obscured another problem: what some call “the second digital divide,” or differences in the use of technology. Access to adequate equipment and reliable high-speed connections remains a concern, of course. But improving the way that technology is employed in learning is an even bigger and more important issue. Addressing it would require a focus on people: training teachers, librarians, parents and children themselves to use computers effectively. It would require a focus on practices: what one researcher has called the dynamic “social envelope” that surrounds the hunks of plastic and silicon on our desks. And it would require a focus on knowledge: background knowledge that is both broad and deep. (The Common Core standards, with their focus on building broad background knowledge, may be education’s most significant contribution to true computer literacy.)

It would take all this to begin to “level the playing field” for America’s students—far more than a bank of computers in a library, or even one laptop per child.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

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Nov 2015
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The Global Search for Education: The Top 10

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“The Global Search for Education series takes important issues related to global education and gives them context.” — Adam Steiner 

Diane Ravitch, Howard Gardner, Sir Ken Robinson, Pak Tee Ng, Pasi Sahlberg, Tony Wagner, Yong Zhao, Krista Kiuru, Peter Vesterbacka, Randi Weingarten, Jonathan Jansen, Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves, among others, have been chosen for our first Global Search for Education Top 10 List.We asked Adam Steiner, a technology integration specialist for the Holliston Public Schools in Holliston, Massachusetts and a doctoral researcher at Boston College, to make an assessment of the over 250 interviews we’ve published and give us his view of our top ten articles.Adam is the co-author with Elizabeth Stringer Keefe of a forthcoming book on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and technology (scheduled release date of March 2015 from Rowman & Littlefield). He joins me to discuss the Top 10 in today’s edition of The Global Search for Education.

Adam, I like your first selection – my 2012 interview with Diane Ravitch. How have The Global Search for Education articles helped you as an educator?

The Global Search for Education series takes important issues related to global education and gives them context. Given the various threads of my personal and professional life, the interviews have helped to put it all in a broader context and give it a larger meaning.

As a teacher, your 2012 interview with Diane Ravitch, in particular, represents the need for teaching to remain a respected profession. I know that my first few years of teaching were such a challenge and would have been impossible if I felt the community did not respect my work. Diane Ravitch rightly argues that a well-respected teaching profession requires higher expectations for teachers and stricter requirements for entry into the profession.

1. The Global Search for Education: The Education Debate 2012 with Diane Ravitch

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“Diane Ravitch rightly argues that a well-respected teaching profession requires higher expectations for teachers and stricter requirements for entry into the profession.” — Adam Steiner
Can I assume that the articles you selected as Nos. 2 and 3 on your list are related to your experience as a technology integration specialist?

Absolutely. Over the past five years, my professional focus has shifted from classroom teacher to technology integration specialist. My particular focus has been on the use of assistive technology in partnership with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to support inclusive classrooms. Singapore is an amazing example of a country that is using technology to help transform its educational system and there is no better person to speak to this than Pak Tee Ng, Professor at the University of Singapore – the best known expert on the Singaporean education system. He emphasizes that Singapore is seeking out uses of technology that transform teaching and not just prop up traditional modes. Tony Wagner continues this theme in my third choice when he talks about technology as a source of pedagogical transformation. In your interview, Tony talks about visiting a school system that had invested tens of thousands in interactive whiteboards in classrooms. Despite the innovative technology, the teaching had not changed – the devices were simply being used as sophisticated test prep tools. As a technology integration specialist, I find myself promoting and supporting the purchase of classroom technology. However, I am also constantly checking to insure that my work is promoting innovative teaching and not just equipment.

2. The Global Search for Education: Got Tech? – Singapore with Pak Tee Ng

3. The Global Search for Education: Education Technology with Tony Wagner

I was pleased that my interview with Yong Zhao made no. 4 on your list. As an education researcher, what interested you most about this article?

China is on a continual journey of self-examination of its own schools. There is no better guide in this irony than Yong Zhao, University of Oregon Professor and expert on the Chinese educational system. Dr. Zhao emphasized efforts to lessen the gap between wealthy and poor, powerful and powerless, a topic that has huge implications for the United States and our disturbing inequality. He described a pernicious selection of students into a hierarchical arrangement of schools and a need for a broad cultural shift that would measure the value of a school intrinsically rather than in comparison to other schools. The growing emphasis on large-scale standardized testing in the US would seem to run contrary to this effort.

4. The Global Search for Education: Focus on China with Yong Zhao

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“Jonathan Jansen’s South African experience has powerful ramifications for any country looking to make significant reform. He emphasizes the importance of approaching reform with an eye toward systemic change rather than tackling issues in a piecemeal fashion.” — Adam Steiner
No. 5 on your list – a look at Finland’s education system for inspiration in the Global Search series.

I had the privilege to hear Dr. Pasi Sahlberg speak at Boston College and this interview illuminated several of the topics he discussed. Three points hit home with me. First, Finland has made a massive investment in teaching such that the profession is now one of the most sought-after jobs in the country. Second, there is an emphasis on equitable schooling that reaches every child rather than in boutique private or quasi-public schools. Third, emotional well-being is valued over test results. My fear is that the United States is moving in precisely the opposite direction on all three fronts.

5. The Global Search for Education: More Focus on Finland with Pasi Sahlberg

I was very pleased that you nominated my interview with Jonathan Jansen for the Top 10.

Jonathan Jansen’s South African experience has powerful ramifications for any country looking to make significant reform. He emphasizes the importance of approaching reform with an eye toward systemic change rather than tackling issues in a piecemeal fashion. Jansen also emphasizes the public-private partnership as key to making significant change.

6. The Global Search For Education: Education Is My Right – South Africa with Jonathan Jansen

As a parent, I know fun and learning resonates with you.

Helping my children with their homework, driving them to a soccer or gymnastics practice, or watching them listen to music or draw a picture – sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the many hats I wear, but there have been several interviews in the Global Search series that have helped me to manage these competing needs. This sixth interview I selected looked at technology and “fun learning” with several Finnish education leaders, including Krista Kiuru, Finnish Minister of Education and Science, and Peter Vesterbacka and Sanna Lukander of Rovio Entertainment, the creators of Angry Birds. We need to find ways for our kids to learn and to discover in fun and interesting ways. This is a challenge given the nature of elementary school education these days. How to find time for “fun learning” when there is so much math and literacy-focused homework to do?

7. The Global Search for Education: Fun and Learning with Krista Kiuru, Peter Vesterbacka, Sanna Lukander

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“Howard Gardner covers a great deal of territory in this interview, from the role of the federal government in education to teacher education to charter schools, but what stands out most to me is his statement: “…education in the arts needs no justification in terms of ‘transfer’ to other subjects or to its generation of wealth; it is a ‘good’ in itself.” — Adam Steiner
Howard Gardner had more to do with inspiring the Global Search series than he will ever know – tell me about no. 8 on your list.

8. The Global Search for Education: The Education Debate 2012 with Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner covers a great deal of territory in this interview, from the role of the federal government in education to teacher education to charter schools, but what stands out most to me is his statement: “…education in the arts needs no justification in terms of ‘transfer’ to other subjects or to its generation of wealth; it is a ‘good’ in itself.” This is a powerful reminder that we need to build in time for our kids to enjoy the arts. If schools are going to put primary emphasis on English and math skills, this becomes even more important.

We couldn’t have a Top 10 list without Sir Ken Robinson.

You had an amazing conversation with Sir Ken Robinson, in which he describes the arts as a discipline in the same way that math, science and English are disciplines. It adds another layer to Howard Gardner’s argument about the importance of the arts. Sir Ken also emphasizes the value of approaching art and other subjects in an interdisciplinary fashion.

9. The Global Search for Education: More Arts Please with Sir Ken Robinson

Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves have contributed so much great work to this series – why did you select this particular interview about the teaching profession?

For me, teaching has been too often a lonely profession. I have felt that my development as a professional was distinctly separate from the needs of my colleagues. This Global Search interview, in particular, addressed this loneliness and the need to improve the profession of teaching with a collective, collaborative approach. It approached the topic from the practical side by engaging Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and from the scholarly side by connecting with Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan, professors and researchers on the cutting edge of educational change.

10. The Global Search for Education: In Search of Professionals – Part 1 with Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves, Randi Weingarten

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C. M. Rubin and Adam Steiner
 

Links

Money, Time, and Tactics: Can Games Be Effective in Schools?

There are so many people out there in education who truly don’t understand the power of games and gaming in education. I have been fortunate enough to work with a few people who are experts in the field, Henk Rogers (Tetris) and Mark Loughridge (F9 Entertainment) in the development of games, animations and simulations we have used SUCCESSFULLY in education. You can see some of our work on our website  and if you are interested in collaborating then contact us.


via Mindshift

If it’s true that 97 percent of teens in the U.S. are playing digital games, then the focus on how games can fit into the shifting education system becomes that much more important. Schools, districts, and individual educators are trying to figure out how games and learning can fit into the current complicated landscape.

The newly released report Games for a Digital Age: K-12 Market Map and Investment Analysis,released by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Games and Learning Publishing Council,describes the many different criteria in play in detail, including obstacles from the policy standpoint, lack of teacher development, as well as how the Bring Your Own Device movement is influencing the push towards games and learning.

“Games are more popular than ever with youth today with many students spending hours a day playing them,” said Michael H. Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “What we don’t know yet is whether and how they can be a key ally in driving pathways to academic success.”

Though it’s well worth reading the report in its entirety, below are excerpts pulled from the report, conducted and written by Dr. John Richards, Leslie Stebbins and Dr. Kurt Moellering.

ON FINDING WAYS TO USE GAMES WITHIN CLASS TIMES

The school day is divided into class periods, and this division limits lesson length. Furthermore, the combination of standards and the scope and sequence tied to core curriculum create “coverage” requirements that place practical limits on the number of lessons that can be devoted to a single topic.

Nearly all games fall clearly along a continuum ranging from short-form to long-form with a critical distinction and a bi-modal distribution pattern based on fitting in a class period. As noted by Rob Lippincott, Sr. Vice President of Education, PBS, “Games don’t fit the time box of a class period; a game succeeds when it is sticky and gobbles up more time. You want games in school to finish quickly and speed up learning.” (CS4Ed interview, April 2012).

We placed games into these two time-based categories, short-form and long-form. Within these broad areas fall dozens of different kinds of games, ranging from three-minute apps to open, immersive Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) that involve lengthy game playing. In addition to the length of play, the mechanics of a gaming experience varies broadly, with simple “add-on” gamification-type reward systems falling typically at the short end of the time continuum, and more complex, multiple-path, role playing games falling at the long end. In longer-form games, the game mechanics are typically intrinsic to the learning experience rather than placed at the end of or external to the game play itself.

“Games don’t fit the time box of a class period; a game succeeds when it is sticky and gobbles up more time. You want games in school to finish quickly and speed up learning.”

1. Short-Form Learning Games

In most K-12 schools the day is organized in blocks of time that average 40 minutes or less. Transition time and time for instruction or discussion connected to curricular material frequently leaves only 20 to 30 minutes for actually using a learning game. Short-form games are interactive digital activities that fit within a single class period and have some components common to all learning games. They focus on a particular concept or on skill refinement, skills practice, memorization, or performing specific drills.

Successful short-form games meet an important and defined market need, whether it is by demonstrating a concept to the whole class on an interactive white board, or by providing individual students with practice on a specific concept or skill. Short-form games include drill and practice, brief simulations, visualizations, or simulated training tools, and different types of “game-like” interactive learning objects. These types of games have the potential to be embedded in personalized learning environments or adaptive engines that combine data and feedback loops that are becoming increasingly popular in schools.

This type of game product is starting to gain traction in the K-12 market, due in part to its alignment to standards and to extensive product lines that cover many topics within the curriculum or meet an important, albeit narrow, market need. Teachers find such games easy to access and understand, and the games fit neatly into the short blocks of time available in the structured school day.

2. Long-Form Learning Games

Long-form learning games extend beyond a single class period. Typically game-playing is spread over multiple sessions or even several weeks. Long-form games lend themselves to the development of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, and communication. Kurt Squire, [co-founder and current director of the Games, Learning, & Society Initiative] underlines the distinction between the sophisticated learning skills developed through immersive experiences versus games where students are rewarded for memorizing vocabulary words or performing math drills. Squire views games such as Civilization III as having the potential to push students to engage actively in problem solving, reflection, and decision making related to historical and political situations (Squire as quoted in Klopfer, Osterweil, Groff, & Haas, 2009). Other researchers concur, and view long-form, immersive game play as a critical factor supporting a broad arena of social and cognitive learning (Shaffer, 2006; Bogost, 2007).

A number of individual studies have demonstrated that specific long-form games perform better when compared to typical lectures. Examples from research studies include Supercharged!, an electrostatics game that showed a 28% increase in learning (Squire, Barnett, Grant, & Higginbotham, 2004); Geography Explorer, a geology game that showed a 15 to 40% increase in learning (McClean, Saini-Eidukat, Schwert, Slator, & White, 2001); Virtual Cell, a cell biology game that showed a 30–63% increase in learning (McClean et al., 2001); and River City, a game that showed a 370% increase in learning for D students and 14% increase for B students (Ketelhut, 2007).

Recent research also points to the significance of the engagement factor produced by long-form learning games. Engagement fosters motivation and keeps students involved in the learning experience. While many educational software products have focused on extrinsic rewards for skills practice, longer form games where game play and learning are closely connected have been proven to be even more engaging than following a learning task with an external reward (Habgood & Ainsworth, 2011).

The authors of a report issued by the Committee on Science Learning at the National Research Council concluded that simulations and games have great potential to improve science learning in the classroom because they can “individualize learning to match the pace, interests, and capabilities of each particular student and contextualize learning in engaging virtual environments” (Honey & Hilton, 2011). The authors also echoed previous research demonstrating the appeal and engagement of learning games, and indicate that games can help support new inquiry-based approaches to science instruction by providing virtual laboratories or field learning experiences that overcome practical constraints.

The time required for playing long-form games has proven to be a significant barrier
to their widespread adoption. As Dave McCool, co-founder, President and CEO of Muzzy
Lane Software explains, “For us, with Making History3, it was a matter of having a product that was deep and narrow and was only needed for content that was covered for one week of the curriculum” (CS4Ed interview, February 2012).

In our interview, Scott Traylor, CEO and founder of 360KID, argued that long-form games can more easily fit into the homework side of the equation and that class time can be reserved for discussing results of the homework activities, strategies, and content learned (CS4Ed interview, March 2012). This “flipped classroom” model addresses the classroom time factor in that teachers can control how much time is spent on discussion sessions. However, there remain challenges with connectivity for students from lower-income households. As more schools experiment with various forms of online and blended learning, a better fit between available class time and long-form games may emerge.

ON DEFINING GAMES: WHAT QUALIFIES AS EDUCATIONAL?

The language of gaming and learning games is still in flux, and there has been little agreement between experts in the field about what falls under the category of “learning game” and what is not a game, but has “game-like” elements. Not surprisingly, the literature of games contains no agreed upon definition of a learning game. When we asked our interviewees what they considered a game, we found no consensus. One extreme cited any “formative assessment based on an adaptive engine,” while the other cited products with aspects of game mechanics such as badges, rewards, and points. Although the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Codie awards category is for “Games and Simulations” (and researchers are sometimes careful to distinguish between simulations and games), for the purposes of this report we have included simulations in our broad definition of learning games.

… longer form games where game play and learning are closely connected have been proven to be even more engaging than following a learning task with an external reward.

Such a wide range of products is confusing to the K-12 audience, because “games” can vary from products that are prototypical to ones that only leverage somewhat extraneous game mechanics to engage and to motivate. Confusion among types of games is of particular concern when examining the research evidence of the effectiveness of games in learning. Most university-based research evaluates learning games in environments that engage students for several weeks with immersive, challenging experiences. Thus, when researchers argue that learning games are efficacious, promote critical thinking, and engage 21st century skills, it is not necessarily clear that these conclusions apply to many shorter forms of learning games.

All games have game mechanics that are the central element of the game and, to some degree, are integrated with the learning content. As James Gee argues in his keynote at the 2012 Games for Change conference, the extent to which the mechanics of creating motivation and directing attention is intrinsic to the content of the game can greatly influence learning outcomes.

Gamification is the use of game-based elements or game mechanics to drive user engagement and actions in non-game contexts. In gamification, the game mechanics are divorced from the content being taught and are instead added in the form of some sort of reward element after completion of an activity. For example, a short-form math game that involves answering math questions where correct answers are followed by a badge or the reward of playing a “dunk the clown” game would be called gamification. David Dockterman, Ed.D., Chief Architect, Learning Sciences with Tom Snyder Productions/Scholastic is concerned about this use of game mechanics, stating “Gamification can begin to undermine a kid’s desire to learn” (CS4Ed interview, March, 2012).

ON SELLING GAMES TO SCHOOLS

The systemic barriers to entry include:

  • the dominance of a few multi-billion dollar players;
  • a long buying cycle, byzantine decision-making process, and narrow sales window;
  • locally controlled decision making that creates a fragmented marketplace of individual districts, schools, and teachers;
  • frequently changing federal and state government policies and cyclical district resource constraints that impact the availability of funding;
  • the demand for curriculum and standards alignment and research-based proof of effectiveness; and
  • the requirement for locally delivered professional development.

However, recent trends provide an increasingly positive arena for learning games and other digital products, including:

  • the move to one-to-one computing in schools and the rise of a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) infrastructure for learning;
  • the widespread acceptance and purchase of interactive white boards;
  • the improvement of school IT infrastructure and access to the Internet;
  • the 2010 National Education Technology Plan;
  •  a strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills, and more broadly, on higher-order thinking skills;
  • an increasing move in schools from print to digital materials and from a highly structured to a somewhat flexible textbook adoption process;
  • the increasing interest in Personalized Learning Environments (PLEs) and adaptive engines; and
  • an expanding base of research that shows the effectiveness of long-form games in learning.