This week's Chalkles cartoon (Edreach.us) illustrates the way school districts are committing themselves through purchasing to single, mostly opposing operating environments. The third player not included here is Samsung, who is distributing tablets with built in curricula and classroom management. Windows and the low coat Aakath tablet are other vendors vying for this market. It shows to an extent how technology is not only entering but commercializing the classroom. How much is educational improvement and how much is brand imprinting strategy? And do we care as long as the result is awesome?
From our recent press release:
The Thinking Skills Club, an innovative school club where kids play computer games that develop learning capacity, is showing up in a variety of settings this Fall:
For full press release see http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/10/prweb11252753.htm
This is my son's brain.
On my website, tskillsclub.com (an uninspired name if there ever was one--where are those marketing people when you need them?), it shows he's beaten:
The EF game is Bad Ice Cream. He had to get to level 15. It's very challenging, and I'm very proud. The graphic is supposed to show his progress through the site and also the balance of functionality in his cranium. He has a terrific memory, I'll have to get him to do some memory games to show it. He could use more focus; I'll try to get him to do Ping Pong 3D (he's great at ping pong in real life, and can actually focus really well when he wants to (which isn't always when others, esp. adults, want him to)). I should also get him over to the Processing Speed section to fill that up, he plays piano at home. He might have won some games he didn't claim for, but he does play some of the same games over and over. I think he's won more than one piece in a column, which doesn't register. I'll have to pay closer attention myself.
We had a session of the club yesterday at his school, 13 kids showed up (max. is 20). I was disappointed not to see any Grades 5 and 6's there, I'll have to talk to the principal. This was the first time I'd tried online registration and payment, and only half of the kids who came were paid up. Two weren't actually supposed to be there, their mom was looking for them all over. I'm thinking of running it as a drop in, $10 a visit (one of the kids who did register was sick).
I think it's hard for parents or a school to evaluate the club without having seen it in action. That's why I made a video two years ago, when the club was at its height, but it's only had under 200 views even though it's on the front page of my website (it doesn't run automatically, Weebly doesn't have that option). It's really perfect for public schools, because it's easy for a teacher to run, but here in Toronto, at least at our school, the teachers don't lead a lot of after school activities and they don't seem to be something the school really promotes or values. I've started calling private schools (should have started in September) and there seems to be some potential there but who knows. There were Boys and Girls clubs expressing great interest last Fall, but none of them came through due to budgets and key people being unable to sell it to higher ups.
I'll keep promoting it to the private schools and take it to the Learning and the Brain conference in Boston in November, people who actually see it get excited and some of them ought to be able to start new clubs this year. Really, if a teacher wants to do it they can start right away. Call it a computer game club if that gets more kids interested. It's so easy and I think so potentially beneficial, I'm really stumped that more people haven't glommed onto it by this point.
I think I'll promote the docu-style video on Youtube. I didn't before because I didn't think people would sit through it, but at least it could be inspiring.
Oh, and there are also no subscribers to this blog, which I used to write and promote more frequently. Blogs started as online diaries, not "10 Ways To Crimp Your Hair" lists and infographics. We are living in such commercial times, Twitter has turned everyone into a salesman. Charles Schultz would have a fit.
Mitch Moldofsky is founder of the Thinking Skills Club, a computer game club that helps develop cognitive functioning for kids. He hold a B.Sc. in Cognitive Science and Psychology from the University of Toronto.