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How Teachers Can Use Education Technology to Boost Engagement

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The kids showing up to Kindergarten classes are much more tech-savvy than their predecessors five years ago. These digital natives are only a little older than the iPhone and they are used to a world where they are surrounded by technology, and where technology has evolved as they've grown.

Northwestern University reports that among children 8 years of age and younger, 21 percent use smartphones regularly for activities that range from texting to using educational apps. Common Sense Media found that 72 percent of children age 8 and younger have used a media device for watching a show, playing a game or engaging with educational apps, and that 38 percent of children under 2 have used a mobile device for media.

Children are no longer satisfied with seeing their favorite characters on a TV screen; they want to interact through mobile applications, YouTube videos and more. It presents new challenges for the early teachers these kids encounter who must find ways to keep students' attention while focusing on the important early lessons of their academic careers.

It seems that technology companies caught on early that there was a demand from parents for high-quality educational apps and other tech offerings that targeted young children, but the road to creating that content for classroom settings has been slower. That's starting to change though, much to the benefit of teachers.

In fact, some big names in education technology are seeing the value in sharing their platforms with teachers, in addition to parents. StoryBots, originally envisioned as an early childhood education resource for parents, has just launched its Classroom platform. It takes the best of what StoryBots has always offered -- learning videos, interactive reading, activity sheets, and more -- and ramps it up to work for classroom settings.

Founded in 2012, StoryBots focuses its educational resources for kids between ages 3 and 8 with personalized content, including Starring You® learning experiences that utilize a child's photo for customization (uploaded by a parent). The mobile apps have been downloaded 3.4 million times, videos viewed 300 million times and books viewed 8 million times. Already 10,000 teachers across the country are in the StoryBots Educator Network which gives free access to the resources. 

StoryBots Classroom, which launched earlier this week, offers an expanded library of resources--all free to educators--to help engage students while teaching them foundational skills at the same time. By getting students excited to learn, the platform helps ease the transition from pre-K to elementary. Some of the specific Classroom offerings include::

  • Math skills guidance, including standards-aligned math games
  • Teacher planning tools - including class roster, lesson planner, group builder, and other tools that help educators manage their classroom and create custom plans to best suit their students' unique needs
  • Learning videos, with a library of 110+ animated musical videos that explore a wide range of topics, from shapes to healthy eating to outer space information.
  • Learning video eBooks that help kids practice reading
  • Activity sheets that include 20 printable books and 350+ sheets for teachers to use in their classrooms

Teachers are able to invite parents to be part of the process so that there is a connection between what is happening in class and what is happening at home.

In an early education landscape that has becoming increasingly about high stakes, and less about the fun that should accompany learning, it's nice to see educational resources like StoryBots for teachers. Kids are comfortable when they have access to technology and the teachers who use tools that incorporate that comfort level with required learning will see positive outcomes.

Visit the StoryBots site to learn more about its Classroom platform.

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The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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