Way of the future

According to Peter Cohen, CEO of Pearson K-12, VDOE’s venture into digital curriculum is a move that many other districts across the U.S. are attempting.

“We’ve reached the tipping point, and the only question now is how rapidly the conversion will happen,” Cohen said.

Pearson, which has created more than 100 mobile apps for education, says its line of products has had a technological component to them for the last five years. Currently, any one of Pearson’s programs can be used without the use of textbooks.

Pearson’s iPad apps for the VDOE are derived from the company’s Virginia editions of America: History of our Nation (for 7th grade) and World History: Volume I (for 9th grade). The iPad program includes three components: An app with interactive learning games that introduce concepts to students through puzzles and fast-action challenges; eText on an iPad, where students access the social studies curriculum and create their own individualized texts; and a personalized assessment with remediation app for students to review and self-test.

Cohen said he believes the apps will be successful because the technology allows students to learn how they want to. See the apps here.

“With the iPad, or any technology like it, students can learn visually, they can learn through audio, they can touch, or it can be an easier way to have notecards. It manages different learning styles and provides for a complex learning environment that supports retention and critical thinking,” he said.

Cohen said the program also can help teachers with their time management. Pearson conducted an initial study of its online math program, and findings showed that teachers have twice as much time to work with students on a personal basis when using the math program that syncs with interactive whiteboards and smart devices.

“What we need to remember as a developer is that you can have great curriculum and great technology, but the teacher will also be the key instrument in student success. If [teachers] can use our digital curriculum and have more time to help students, then we know it’s a good product,” he said.

Cohen acknowledged there isn’t much research available on student outcomes from using digital curriculum, but he said VDOE and Radford University’s study of the iPad pilot will be the first step to knowing more about the technology.