Technology can help young learners when used correctly

Technology is increasingly prevalent in 21st century classrooms, even those filled with our nation’s youngest students. While elementary math learners are no strangers to technology – many have been using tablets, video games and computers for as long as they can remember – the question remains whether or not employing forms of virtual learning in the classroom will be helpful or detrimental.

The consensus among educators and education experts seems to be that technology is, in fact, quite helpful when used appropriately – particularly in the case of young learners who have come to expect their information to be delivered digitally. In an effort to ensure that early childhood learning uses media and technology effectively, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning have released a position statement to guide school districts in the right direction.

Tremendous Potential
“We believe that when used appropriately, technology and interactive media have tremendous potential to nurture early learning and development,” Rita Catalano, executive director for the Fred Rogers Center, said in a statement. “The position statement is intended to support all those who care for and about young children in making informed, child-centered decisions about these news tools.”

According to NAEYC, research has shown that the use of computers in classrooms can improve children’s elementary math skills, as well as their social, cognitive, language, literacy and writing abilities. The question is how to best integrate computer use into classrooms and curricula.

Lorah Neville, executive director of curriculum and learning services in Tempe, Ariz., believes technology that has been intelligently designed will give students the most benefits academically.

“We need to be very clear about how and why we’re using it,” she told Education Week. “We don’t want to replicate core instruction in a digital format. We want to enhance it.”

Interactive Software
Adaptive learning software is particularly adept at supplementing teacher instruction. Many of these programs are specifically designed to tailor instruction to the needs of each individual student while simultaneously collecting data and feedback that teachers can use to personalize the learning experience of their students and help them be academically successful.

According to Education Week, experts agree that young students respond best to technology that is interactive, has lots of animation, and is connected to situations that they may encounter in everyday life. The bottom line is that teachers should be incorporating technology into their lesson plans in an engaging way.

Technology in the Classroom
“[Kids] have access to technology at home, so they expect it at school,” Jacinta Sorgel, one of the Tempe school district’s educational technology specialists, told Education Week. “They’re able to stay motivated because it’s something they do all the time.”

While some parents may be concerned that technology is receiving too much emphasis in classrooms, the joint position statement from NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning emphasizes the fact that engaging technology and interactive media can be extremely effective when used appropriately.

Educators that employ technology in a measured way and use it to supplement their teaching and engage elementary students will be able to have a positive impact on young learners.

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Jessie Woolley-Wilson

Throughout her life and career, Jessie Woolley-Wilson has been driven by a singular belief that all children need and deserve high-quality learning opportunities, regardless of who they are or where they live. She believes that by supporting great teaching and learning, everyone wins: kids, families, communities and the world. Jessie has worked in the education technology space for nearly 20 years to support school and district leaders to improve learning and life outcomes for K-12 students.

Jessie joined DreamBox Learning® in 2010 as Chair, President, and CEO. The startup software company had pioneered Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ in 2006 and began partnering with schools soon after Jessie joined. Today, DreamBox serves nearly 3 million K-8 students and approximately 120,000 teachers. The company provided more than 350 million math lessons across the U.S. and Canada in 2017.

Jessie recently secured a $130 million investment in DreamBox from The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by TPG Growth. Prior to joining DreamBox, Jessie served as president of Blackboard’s K-12 Group and LeapFrog SchoolHouse, the K-12 division of LeapFrog Enterprises. Jessie also served in leadership positions at, the interactive division of The College Board, and at Kaplan, the leading test preparation company in the U.S.

Jessie supports the broader K12 industry by serving on the boards of several educational organizations including Rosetta Stone, Newsela, the Western Governors University Board of Trustees, and Ursuline Academy. She is also a board member for Boeing Employees Credit Union, Pacific Science Center, and The Bullitt Foundation. She has been a featured speaker at international events including TEDx Rainier, SXSWedu, DENT and GeekWire Summit 2018.

Jessie is a two-time recipient of EdTech Digest’s EdTech Leadership Award for her work in transformative innovation in education and honored her as one of 2018’s Top 100 Influencers in EdTech. Seattle Business Magazine awarded Jessie the 2015 Executive Excellence Award in the CEO of the Year category and Forbes placed her on its “Impact 15” list for being a disruptor in education. The Puget Sound Business Journal honored Jessie as a “Woman of Influence” and 425 Magazine named her as one of eight “Unstoppable Eastside Women” for having a clear focus on the greater good. Additionally, The New York Times has profiled Jessie and her leadership style in their Corner Office column.

Jessie holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of Virginia. She is also a 2007 Henry Crown Fellow and moderator for the Aspen Institute.
Jessie Woolley-Wilson