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Digital Technology Enhances Learning This Summer

Detroit public school students are getting an early start on next year's curriculum through a virtual summer program, developed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The virtual program will run in conjunction with the district's free Summer School Academy, which is serving over 35,000 students this year in a variety of specialized initiatives for underperforming students, bilingual students, special education students, and students at transition points in their school careers, among other programs.

The new virtual "camp" is part of an effort by the district to both build students' 21st century skills and better prepare them for the upcoming year by placing an emphasis on retaining material from the year before and building foundational skills they will need in the next grade.

All K-8 students are enrolled in the virtual program and can use any Internet connection (at home or elsewhere) to access 10 educational activities each week. Their performance will be measured and used to help tailor the program to their skill sets. The district is planning to have teachers use the data from students' performance to help design their lessons this fall.

Detroit's virtual program seems to be part of a rising trend to incorporate technology into summer programming. Other articles out recently highlight some other digital summer learning and enrichment programs. Brown University is hosting a summer program that incorporates virtual game play with learning, and several opportunities are being offered in the Bay Area for children to work with their parents on summer learning through digital means.

My Education Week colleague Ian Quillen reported on the trend and a few other of these programs last month.

"Regardless of the format, some educators find that technology gives them the opportunity to make instruction more flexible and personalized than it is during a school year bound by curricula and state testing requirements—and they're zestfully embracing it," he wrote.

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