The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made a round of investments, totaling more than US$20 million, dedicated in part to developing innovative digital and game-based learning tools for US kids.
The new instructional approaches will also tap into social networking-inspired learning.
A significant portion of the investments will go towards building a system of digital courses. The Pearson Foundation, one of the major partners in this initiative, is developing a complete digital curriculum comprised of 24 online math and English language arts to support the US Common Core State Standards, which are college- and career-ready standards being implemented in more than 40 states. The Pearson courses will be delivered through a combination of technologies, including video, interactive software, games, social media and print. Funding from the Gates Foundation will support course development, including four that will be available for free on an open platform for schools.
New game-based learning tools coming out of the grant include a set of 20 literacy-based trajectories developed by Digital Youth Network that allow students to earn badges and move from varying levels in areas like creative writing. Through a US$2.5 million grant, the Institute of Play will build a set of game-based pedagogical tools and game design curricula that can be used within both formal and informal learning contexts. Quest Atlantis is creating video games that build proficiency in math, literacy and science with the support of a $2.6 million grant.
Gates is also partnering with Educurious Partners, Florida Virtual School, Reasoning Mind and Educause to develop and promote new applications for learning and assessments.The initiatives have all been designed to coincide with a child’s natural way of learning while also provide teachers with flexibility through customizable digital tools.