Last year, 116 of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Empower School kindergarteners were part of an experiment that set out to see if “blended learning,” a teaching method that divides class time between a teacher and computers, could be effective for young learners, according to the article “Kindergarteners at the Keyboard.”
KIPP Empower, who serves minority and low-income students living in L.A. had such “promising” results that they continued to offer the program this year and expect it to spread to higher grades and across the 109 schools that make up their charter-network. Using blended learning in grade school is still a controversial subject because it hasn’t been around long enough to be supported by any longterm results and research. Another reason educators and parents are concerned with the shift is that five-year-olds need “active, hands-on, engaging and empowering” activities, “not electronic worksheets and drill and practice,” says Chip Donohue, director of distance learning at the Erikson Institute in Chicago.
However, KIPP Empower principal Mike Kerr says the results from their first year using blended learning in the classroom proved to show gains. At the beginning of the year, only nine percent of students tested were ready for kindergarten. When students took the same test at the end of the year, 96 percent reached or exceeded the proficient mark.
Other benefits the technology has afforded the school are:
- More individual attention
- Engaging work that gives students immediate feedback
- Daily data on each student
“I do worry about students one day sitting in front of computer screens all day,” says Kerr. “That’s not what we’re about.”
Did your kindergarteners play digital learning games? Do you think kindergarteners are too young for blended learning to be effective?
“Kindergarteners at the Keyboard,” by Jill Barshay. 11 October 2011. The Hechinger Report. Accessed on 14 October 2011. <http://hechingerreport.org/content/kindergarteners-at-the-keyboard_6485/>