We’re at the beginning of the end of the first generation of online learning content.  First gen content was mostly flat and sequential—digital textbooks.  Second gen content will be far more engaging and adaptive.  For more than a decade, computer games have continuously assessed skill and interest and customized the experience for each participant.  In the next 24 months we’ll see new proprietary and open products being launched—most through non-traditional channels.  Here’s just a couple example from today’s news. 

The first issue of the International Journal of Learning and Media opened with an article titled  Why Virtual Worlds Matter .  You may not be watching the massively multiplayer online (MMO) space, but your kids are. 

While everyone else is broke, game companies are still raising money.  The NYTimes reported that, “SuperSecret, a San Francisco-based online social gaming company, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Opus Capital. They are targeting the tween market and hoping kids graduate from Club Penguin or Webkinz to their offering.”

Discovery Education introduced its newest service empowering educators to improve student achievement, Progress Zone.  Heller Report reported,
“The first formative assessment service enabling educators to monitor student academic progress through teacher-created diagnostic tests linked to state curriculum/assessment standards, Progress Zone helps educators use assessment results to prescribe digital media for individualized instruction.”

Kaplan College Preparatory School has expanded its curriculum to serve students in grades 6 through 8.  They’re joining K12, Connections, and KC Distance Learning with a comprehensive K-12 online offering.  All of these are still decidedly first gen, but getting better fast. 

We’re 15 years behind the entertainment sector, but these trends with a few billion in stimulus funds will make things more interesting online. 

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.



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