Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

Virtual Goods Slip Into #Education Field

If you are building a virtual education or online education play, you probably worry about relevancy. You have to fight against two camps of thought: people who think that virtual education or gaming education is a distraction from the real world of reading, writing and arithematic; and people who think that gaming education or online learning has no impact on the real lives of people.

I just found MiniMonos, an online education game for boys with a twist.

Buy a virtual good inside the game and you contribute to a clean water supply for kids in India (14,000+ days to date), as well as adopting orangutans, supporting wild tigers, and other feel-good rewards. There are also in-world rewards for real-world eco-actions.

Why boys? Disney tends to target boys with TV shows as girls will happily watch boys’ shows, but not vice versa. But online, there’s lots of entertainment for girls, but not much for boys. So if you capture the boys online, you bring the girls along with them, thus increasing the value of the company.

Its four main countries are the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand; memberships is driven through natural traffic (word of mouth), Google Adwords, the Miniclip games aggregator site, and PR, via primarily kids’ television. The company has just launched TV commercials in the UK and will launch branded prepaid cards in Sainsbury’s in the UK in October.



Filed under: Digital Learning, Gaming, Influence, , , , ,

Start Challenging “Fact” That Black People Can’t Benefit from Online Learning

I found a surprising bit of information in a Venture Beat story about the rise of online video sharing, with a quote from Pew’s Lee Rainie. I have always argued that urban blacks (forgive my use of this phrase, but its a commonly used one, no matter that it generalizes the urban experience way too much) have just as much access to interesting online education plays through mobile devices and the Internet as their white peers.

Image from VentureBeat, shows video sharing percentages

Many people argue that black students, poor rural students, and people who don’t have broadband piped into their home are being left out of the education tech game. Intuitively, I didn’t think this was true. Now Rainie talks about the rise of video online and I again questions this assertion:

“Just a few years ago, it appeared rural users weren’t as open to online experiences but now they have caught up,” Rainie said.

One factor in this might be that there so many channels that the barriers to entry to uploading video have vanished. This has created a more diverse representation across all video channels. “Now that businesses, schools, non-profits and individuals can all post easily to these sites, that makes the offering more compelling,” Rainie said.

Another interesting statistic that came from the report is that African-American and Hispanic consumers are more likely to use video-sharing sites than white users.

Maybe urban students and rural students come from a low base, but is it surprising that they are outisharing their white peers? I am not surprised. I have been in urban environments like in the Bronx, where poor students have smartphones and they watch hours of video through those devices.


Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Tech, , , , , , ,

Best #Education Apps of 2011

What I enjoyed about this list of best education applications in 2011 is that there are so many apps in this list that are not directly marketed as education apps. It speaks to my belief that many of the solutions that create better manageability and efficiency for teachers and students are not coming from straight up education vendors.

Ed tech is going to surprise so many people with how it already exists on the social web, churning massive amounts of data and helping us pinpoint the best ways to teach kids. Here’s a small slice from the list, but you should visit Larry Ferlazzo’s blog for the full scoop.

As usual, in order to make this list, a site had to be:

* accessible to English Language Learners and non-tech savvy users.

* free-of-charge.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* completely browser-based with no download required.

It’s possible that a few of these sites began in 2010, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2011.

Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Tech, , , , ,

Columbia University Reviews To Be Heard

The film will be screened at the IFC Center’s DocuWeeks: Theatrical Showcase August 19-25, and at the Rooftop Films: Summer Screenings in Chelsea on August 13th and East Harlem on August 16th

Liz Hoelzle sat down to watch To Be Heard and wrote a review about it for the Arts & Humanities at Teacher’s College program at Columbia University.

Each of the teachers featured in To Be Heard display an extraordinary commitment to their students and seem to have a calling to impart a love of literacy. They continually impress upon their students the idea that controlling language is a route to freedom. Legiardi-Laura stresses this idea when he states, “If you don’t control language in this world, you go to jail. Whether it’s a physical jail or a mental jail doesn’t really matter.”

As “the tripod” continues to grow and flourish in their poetry, even experiencing the thrill of participating in a citywide teen poetry slam competition which one of them wins, it seems that everything will turn out just fine. But more challenges await them on the horizon, and their commitment to poetry and to one another is tested. The audience rejoices and cries along with the characters, and is ever inspired by their consistent reliance on poetry for survival.

Filed under: Digital Learning, Work, , , , ,

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