Digital teaching platform

The digital teaching platform is a new educational series of products designed to operate in a teacher-led classroom.[1] It offers a new tech-centric approach to the learning process and classroom planning.[2] The platform is designed to function as the instructional environment in today’s technology-intensive classrooms. It provides a full digital curriculum, and supports the teacher with tools for curriculum planning, classroom management, and student assessment.[3]

Contents

Characteristics

The children in the educational systems in the United States are failing to grow with the ever changing world of technology. This is based on the lack of growth in the way they are taught. The idea's and techniques that worked in the 1950's to prepare students for a career in factory like atmosphere's are no longer acceptable for the digital learners that are craving 21st Centry careers. The digital teaching platform is designed for the K–12 classroom. It is a web-based system that puts the teacher in charge of the lesson, and it provides the tools and resources the teacher needs to ensure the class runs smoothly.

The platform functions as the primary instructional environment in a 1:1 computing classroom. According to the One-to-One Institute, “One-to-one learning provides every student and teacher access to his or her own personal portable technology in a wireless environment allowing students to learn at their own pace and ability levels."[4]

Unlike supplemental software programs, the digital teaching platform is the primary carrier of core curriculum content. It includes a comprehensive digital curriculum, which the teacher and students can access from their own computers. It also includes tools that allow the teacher to easily plan lessons, assign instruction, manage the classroom, and assess student learning — all from his or her computer.

Classroom uses

According to Walters and Dede the technology-rich digital teaching platform uses a one-to-one computing environment to best advantage.[1] The platform enables highly differentiated learning instruction, and supports collaborative learning and interdisciplinary techniques.[5] It facilitates large group multimedia presentations, small group projects, and individualized practice and assessment. The teacher is fully in control of student activities by making assignments, mentoring individuals, leading discussions, and providing feedback.[6]

Before class, the teacher uses planning tools provided on the system to prepare the lesson. During class, the teacher uses multimedia to introduce a topic. Using their computers, students then access applets to explore concepts, and practice exercises.[7] After class – at school or home – the teacher can use her computer to review each student’s progress and trends in class performance, and begin the process for planning tomorrow’s lessons. Teachers can also use the platform to customize learning sequences, assign assessments to students,[8] and create reports of student progress. Each student uses a laptop during the class[9] which allows not only for individual participation, but teachers are also able to monitor individual student progress throughout the class.[10]

With a digital teaching platform, students see only the activities they are assigned, so they are not distracted by materials meant for others or by activities that will be used later. The platform ensures that students understand their assignments and can move quickly from one activity to the next without losing time or momentum.

Research into the impact of digital teaching platforms

Independent studies in the United States and Israel show students who use a digital teaching platform achieve higher gains in language arts and mathematics than students in comparable schools using traditional teaching methods and curriculum. The digital teaching platform classrooms also show improved teaching quality, an improved learning environment with fewer disruptions, and an increase in student confidence, motivation and enjoyment of math and reading/language arts.[6]

A 2009 study by the Henrietta Szold Institute, the National Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences in Jerusalem, examined the educational impact of a specific digital teaching platform, called Time To Know, on students in two public elementary schools in Israel. One was an inner city school with many students from low-income households or state-run group homes, and the other was located in an upper middle class neighborhood. The study also included two comparison schools with similar demographics and achievement levels. Students in the treatment and comparison schools took a pretest at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year and took the same test as a post-test at the end of the year. Fifth grade students who had used Time To Know for two years showed higher gains in their test scores in all three subject areas — Hebrew, English, and mathematics — than fifth grade students in the comparison schools. The gains in reading language arts were particularly significant. In the Time To Know schools, students achieved average gains of 21.7 points in reading language arts in English. In contrast, students in the comparison schools achieved gains of 10.3 points in the same subjects.[11]

Results are similar in the United States. Grand Prairie Independent School District (ISD) in Texas implemented a digital teaching platform, called Time To Know, in two classes each at Austin Elementary and Whitt Elementary schools during the 2009-10 school year. On the 2010 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), the Time To Know students achieved statistically significant gains in mathematics, reading and writing, and outscored students in control classrooms in the district. A greater proportion of Time To Know students also reached the “Met The Standard” and “Commended” performance levels on the TAKS. In mathematics, 93 percent of the Time To Know students reached these levels and achieved proficiency on the TAKS, compared to 66 percent of the control students. In reading, 90 percent of the Time To Know students achieved proficiency, compared to 69 percent of the control students. In writing, 98 percent of the Time To Know students achieved proficiency, compared to 92 percent of the control students. In addition, the Time To Know students significantly increased their TAKS scores in mathematics and reading from the third grade in 2009 to the fourth grade in 2010.[12]

The TAKS results follow the results of an independent evaluation by Rockman et al, an independent research and evaluation firm based in San Francisco that was conducted in Grand Prairie ISD in early 2010.[12] The study showed that the Time To Know students far outperformed the control students in 21st century skills such as math reasoning abilities. Students in the Time To Know classes also spent more time using authentic tasks and problems, and more time explaining their reasoning. Further, the lower performing students made the greatest gains with the digital teaching platform, narrowing the achievement gap in math.[12]

Digital teaching platforms

Time To Know, Inc. is the first company to develop and implement a digital teaching platform in schools in Israel and the United States. Founded in 2004 by Shmuel Meitar, Time To Know’s vision is to “lead the knowledge revolution in the classroom, empowering teachers and enabling student success”.[13][14]

According to J. Schenker from Informilo, Time To Know uses a “Web-based infrastructure software, which serves as a digital teaching platform. The software functions as an operating system for teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom. Its uniqueness is that it is based on core curriculum subjects such as math, language arts (reading, writing and comprehension) as well as English as a second or foreign language. And it supports a lot of real-time functions, allowing teachers to get immediate feedback on which students in the classroom get it and which don't.” [15]

Offered currently to elementary school students, the Time To Know digital teaching platform delivers standards-based instruction in mathematics and reading/language arts to help students learn essential content and prepare for high stakes tests.[16] Built upon social constructivist principles, the interactive curriculum also offers open-ended explorations and collaboration tools to deepen student understanding, increase motivation, and strengthen problem-solving skills. For teachers, Time To Know provides time-saving tools to streamline classroom management, create a smooth flow between group and individual instruction, and deliver differentiated learning activities to every learner.[17]

New York City's School of One middle school mathematics program uses its own digital teaching platform to develop personalized learning plans for students, to monitor the students' progress, and adjust the plans accordingly.

Pedagogical theory

The Time To Know curriculum is based on social constructivist theory. Curriculum built on social constructivist principles must develop conceptual understandings together with fluency and problem-solving skills in a manner that makes these attributes mutually supportive.[18]

In the constructivist approach, instruction is a process that supports knowledge construction rather than communicating that knowledge. The teacher serves as a guide, rather than as the expert who transfers knowledge to students.[19] Learning activities are authentic and leverage the learners’ puzzlement and curiosity that arises when their faulty or incomplete knowledge fails to predict what they observe. Teachers encourage students to reflect on these experiences, to seek alternative viewpoints, and to test a variety of ideas. Student motivation to achieve these goals is determined by factors such as challenge, curiosity, choice, fantasy, and social recognition.[20]

The National Research Council lists the essential goals of learning in a constructivist approach:

  • Building a deep foundation of factual knowledge and procedural skills;
  • Developing conceptual frameworks;
  • Organizing domain knowledge as experts do;
  • Improving the thinking processes.[21]

Student motivation to achieve these goals is determined by a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as satisfaction from achievement, contributing to others, and challenge and curiosity.[20]

According to Walters and Dede, “Time To Know is a next-generation system that allows schools to improve teaching effectiveness and to reap the benefit of their investment in computers and other classroom technologies." [1]

Sources

  1. ^ a b c Walters, J.; Richards, J.; Dede, C. (July 10, 2009). Digital Teaching Platforms: A Research Review (PDF). Dallas: Time To Know. pp.1-3.
  2. ^ Simba Information (January 25, 2010). Electronic Education Report:Digital Teaching Platform Options Increase. (PDF). Dallas: Time To Know.
  3. ^ Carthy, Roi (February 2, 2010). Israel’s Time To Know Aims To Revolutionize The Classroom. TechCrunch.
  4. ^ What is One-To-One?. One-to-One Institute.
  5. ^ Weiss, Dovi. (2010). Pedagogical Symphony for Technology in the Classroom (PDF). Dallas: Time To Know. pp.3.
  6. ^ a b Cohen, Aryeh Dean (September 28, 2010). Fixing Our Broken Classrooms. Israel21c.
  7. ^ Nagel, David. (September 27, 2010). Texas District Expanding Use of Online Teaching Platform. THE Journal.
  8. ^ Reynolds, Aline. (September 14, 2010). P.S. 130 Part of Exclusive D.O.E. Technology Initiative. Manhattan, NY: Downtown Express, 20(38).
  9. ^ Selig, Abe. (May 10, 2010). Challenging The Status Quo. The Jerusalem Post.
  10. ^ Weiser, Christine, Ed. (July 29, 2010). One to One Computing Platform Helps Kids Explore Techology, World. School CIO.
  11. ^ Manny- Ikan, E., & Berger-Tikochinski T. (2010). The educational effects of "Time to Know" program: A longitudinal study (Research Report). Jerusalem: The Henrietta Szold National Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences.
  12. ^ a b c Scott, B., Rockman, S. & Kuusinen, C. (2010). Time to Know evaluation final report. San Francisco, CA: Rockman et al.
  13. ^ Time To Know. (2010).
  14. ^ Nagel, David. (June 24, 2010). New York Elementary Schools Adopting Digital Curriculum. THE Journal. Chatsworth, CA.
  15. ^ Schenker, J. (2010, June 6). Digital Operating System for Schools. Informilo.
  16. ^ McCrea, Bridget. (July 14, 2010). Making the Most of A 1:1 Laptop Initiative. THE Journal. Chatsworth, CA.
  17. ^ Business Wire. (2010, September 24). Shmuel Meitar, Founder of Time to Know to Participate In NBC’s National Education Summit. Press Release. DailyFinance.com
  18. ^ National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education.
  19. ^ Malone, T & Lepper, M. (1987) Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In R. Snow & M. Farr (eds). Aptitude, Learning and Instruction, Volume 3: Conative and Affective Process Analyses. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  20. ^ a b Pintrich P. & Schunk D. (2002). Motivation in education: Theory research and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill-Prentice Hall. ISBN 9780023956218.
  21. ^ National Research Council. (2005). How students learn: History, mathematics, and science in the classroom. Committee on How People Learn. M. Donovan & J. Bransford (Eds.). Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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