March 28th, 2009
Schooled by 5-8 Year Olds: Why We Start Kids a Year Early in Our Curriculum
Did you know that we beta-tested DreamBox Learning with 5 different releases before making it available to the public? Along with each release came a plethora of feedback. Feedback that was, and still is, vital to building a product that teaches and engages young kids. Along the way were many surprises.
Early on we learned that our curriculum is challenging. Appropriately challenging, but nonetheless challenging. This made it difficult for new users that weren’t as familiar with computer games, weren’t comfortable using computers for learning, and weren’t confident when using virtual manipulatives for solving problems. There was too much new learning taking place at once. What should we do?
How Can Users Get the Most Out Of DreamBox Online Math Learning?
We, the Academic Team at DreamBox, experimented with the starting place of our curriculum and looked at some general patterns in user data. We found that a majority of new users failed the early lessons and our dynamic sequencing was taking them to lessons in a previous grade-level. This bothered us. As teachers we wanted our students to experience success with math early in the product use. Would it be better if we started kids off with easy math games and gradually increased the difficulty? The answer: Yes! By starting with curriculum one grade-level earlier in the sequencing, the new user experienced success with math and this compensated for frustrations that naturally occurred due to using a new learning medium.
But isn’t starting users one grade-level behind inefficient? With most products, this would be the case, but not so with ours. Our GuideRight™ Technology allows us to skip over large chunks of the curriculum when the student demonstrates that the math is easy. Our unique sequencing allows a child to work in two grade levels of the curriculum at once.
After a few successful kindergarten games, users are presented with our early first-grade curriculum. If they aren’t, it means they weren’t ready for it. This may not be the perfect solution for all kids, but it turns out that it works successfully for the majority of our kindergarten to 3rd grade students. However, as always, we’re anxious to hear from the parents of our little DreamBox users: how is this working for your children?