Gates gives $20M for digital learning, Common Core curriculum

$3M will go to the Pearson Foundation to create 24 online courses supporting the Common Core standards; four of these courses will be free to schools.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced April 27 that it will be investing more than $20 million in game-based learning and other digital tools to help usher the new Common Core standards into the classroom.

The foundation wants to help teachers engage students in learning the challenging new standards being adopted by more than 40 states. It says some of the web-based games, social-networking platforms, and online courses will be available for any teacher to use free of charge.

The new tools will include video games that build proficiency in math, reading, and science, as well as a new game platform that can be used for various subjects. The grants also include money for web-based classes aligned with the new common standards.

Game developers and curriculum writers from around the world are involved in the project, including the Pearson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Pearson PLC, which has announced the development of a complete digital curriculum to support the common standards. The Gates Foundation is providing research and $3 million in funding to help make these digital courses widely available.

Besides the Pearson Foundation, the Gates Foundation also is teaming up with Educurious Partners, Florida Virtual School, Institute of Play, Reasoning Mind, Quest Atlantis, Digital Youth Network, and EDUCAUSE to develop and promote new applications for learning and new assessments aligned with the Common Core standards.

“Teachers are telling us what they want, and we are listening,” said Vicki L. Phillips, director of education and college-ready programs for the Gates Foundation. “We believe these exciting world-class tools have the potential to fundamentally change the way students and teachers interact in the classroom, and ultimately, how education works in America.”

The Pearson Foundation is developing 24 online math and English language-arts (ELA) courses to help teachers and principals implement the common standards. These 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 the development of this robust system of courses, including four—two in math and two in ELA—to be available at no cost on an open platform for schools.

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