I spent a good part of my Tuesday this week with some students at one of the King-Chavez schools in San Diego with the Founder of Skoolbo, Shane Hill. Skoolbo is an educational software company that is focused on childhood (K-6) literacy, numeracy, health and fitness/wellness and other subjects like geography and languages.
The Skoolbo platform is the world's leading interactive learning system that uses game dynamics to engage early learners and to teach efficiently and effectively. WOW! Does it ever. The students at King-Chavez have answered over 500,000 questions on Skoolbo through their iPads since it's beta release a year ago. While Skoolbo is only getting started, over 22 million questions have been answered on the platform globally by users in over 140 countries.
Here's what I learned from the class of 3rd graders we spent much of the day with—childhood education is dramatically better, faster and more efficient with this technology.
Early Learners Are Natural Innovators
Early learners want to learn, and these tools are natural vehicles that tap into these latent desires. Skoolbo is the next generation of online learning beyond online courses, it’s actual online instruction and learning.
With Skoolbo, students are learning based upon their individual skill levels at a volume and with a level of quality never before possible. At the King-Chavez school they are answering questions targeted to their skill level at an average rate of 18 a minute, and some are answering at rates well in excess of this level, e.g., 50+.
Practicing and interacting with a wide range of math and reading activities Skoolbo delivers sixty second “learning sprints” that result in a targeted experience that a teacher couldn’t possibly replicate at the individual level. With this much data, teachers also use Skoolbo to understand specific skill gaps at the individual level that they then use to modify their curriculum. Teachers have never had this level of visibility before into the individual students capability. Students learn more effectively and teachers teach more effectively because of these tools.
Self-Guided Learning Yields Impressive Results
Two students in the class have self-guided themselves and answered over 30,000 questions each, through the platform—remember these are 8 year olds. They’ve essentially lifted up their own skill levels by using a tool that can be self-initiated and that can keep up with their desire for rapid iteration, and infinite interaction. All while not feeling singled out, or left behind because of peer or teacher constraints in a group setting. Sergio’s teacher told us he's lifted himself up at least a grade level in terms of his reading comprehension and his math skills through his own initiatives and use of the Skoolbo tool.
Studies show that closing skills gaps in early childhood education yields enormous individual and social value. Economist and Nobel laureate Dr. James Heckman from The University of Chicago has done extensive research on this issue.
Early learners have a new toolset that can reach and engage them like nothing has before. The King–Chavez students are in a lower income demographic and Skoolbo’s global mission is to use this technology to eradicate illiteracy across the planet at a cost of no more than 10 cents a child. That goal is now achievable and only because of this technology.
A new threshold of learning is at hand for early childhood learners and teachers because of today’s technology. The 8 year-olds I spent the day with taught me that they want to learn and that they want to use this technology to learn with—they taught me that our future will be much smarter than our past.
Join The Movement And Spread The Word
Skoolbo is also working with Microsoft and Peace One Day to bring together 5 million early learners in September 2013 at www.friendourworld.org. Join the movement and help us spread the word.