Next Generation Learning Challenges announced $7 million in grants to 19 innovative, technology-enabled programs that are helping students master middle grade math and literacy.

Ian Quillen, EdWeek summarized the ask: “Proposals that used technology to address teaching 7th and 9th grade Common Core State Standards material.  Universities took almost half of the awards.  Ian noted that, “The Louisiana Department of Education and its virtual school algebra program represent the only public K-12 education winner that will receive grant money” from the Gates Foundation funded initiative.

Grants will support both proof-of-concept and the early-stage adoption of programs in order to help refine promising approaches.

“We believe learning technologies and next generation design models can produce transformative change for students by personalizing learning, and making it more meaningful by relating to their passions and interests,” said Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL, a NextGen partner (where I’m a director)

Sector trends evident in the list of winners include customized learning, high engagement environments, and relevant learning experiences.  It’s great to see a handful of games on the list.  I’m not sure any of these will break through, but more proof of concept will encourage investors.

The 19 winners are listed below:

CAST, Inc.: universal design for learning modules

Classroom, Inc.: simulated workplaces

DaVinci Minds, Inc.: integrated middle school career, math, and science curriculum free web learning platform

Education Development Center, Inc.: word games for 7th graders

Hofstra University: WISEngineering engages 7th graders with real-life math problems

iCivics Inc.: online civic education platform founded and led by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (demo)

Imagine Education: Ko’s Journey, math games (demo)

Louisiana Department of Education: virtual algebra course

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Lure of the Labyrinth game (demo)

North Carolina State University: Crystal Island, a science mystery game

SMALLab Learning, Inc.: motion-tracking technology to increase science knowledge via physical movement.

Scholar Rocket, Inc.: LearningMatch, short instructional videos

Texas Tech University: update to APS4Math

University of Massachusetts: adaptive mathematics tutoring system

University of South Florida St. Petersburg: math representations and sims

University of Wisconsin-Madison: digital text, simulations, and design challenges

WNET: real-world problems through online challenges presented by professionals in fields of interest (demo)

Worcester Polytechnic Institute: ASSISTmentsis, a browser-based “expert system” offering immediate math assistance


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