SmartTech Roundup: Gamification, Platforms, Tabs & eBooks

Vinod Khosla wrote a compelling blog (3rd in a series) on the future of education where he suggests that advancing technology will result in two big trends in education: decentralization and gamification. He describes how his wife’s open source play, CK12, will add “bionic software” to assess learning and recommend lessons.
The Guardian reported this week that technology, including games, animations, video and more, could revolutionize the classroom. “Ministers have also drawn attention to games developed by the Oxford mathematician Marcus Du Sautoy [Mangahigh], which are being used in growing numbers of schools to explain complex problems to pupils.”
While schools are looking at the potential opportunities of the gamification of learning, researchers debate the effect of gaming on the brain. Studies show that frequent video gamers increases the size of the brain in areas linked to rewards and decision-making.
As we mention with some frequency, we’re fans of Jiji the penguin and ST Math–particularly the fact that they have demonstrated that blending games produces big gains.
Tablets may revolutionize higher education, says Adobe Systems Director Trevor Bailey. He says that tablets can boost interactive learning, study habits, literacy and performance among students.  CoSN reported this week some of the best practices for mobile K-12 learning.
There were a few touch-screen developments at CES last week.  As we reported, Promethean announced an interactive table for primary kids.
Last week the WSJ had the inside scoop on the $35 Askash tablet. But this week, it appears that after poor user reviews the Indian government cranked up procurement requirements but still wants to hold the line on price.  Not surpassing, Datawind is balking. The skirmish may spell the premature death of the super cheap Indian tablet.
Platform News
Governor Beebe’s Workforce Cabinet announced this week that the state will fund 9 additional high schools in the Arkansas New Tech Network (NTN), a national non-profit school development organization, this fall. NTN is platform-centric school developer with a project-based learning management system (LMS) called Echo.
Last week, eScholar launched myTrack, a tool that facilitates goal setting. North Carolina’s Cumberland County School District helped design and pilot myTrack which sounds like it would be great for managing competency-based learning.  We also demoed Project Foundry this week and think it’s a great platform for designing Common Core-aligned projects and tracking competencies.
We like the way Compass is integrating NWEA’s adaptive assessments.
After a couple years of contemplating options, Richard Ludlow sold Academic Earth to Ampush, a San Francisco online marketing company that will attempt to optimize click-thru revenue.  Academic Earth was an open content breakthrough in 2009.  Ludlow curated, tagged and organizes videos from more than 350 elite college courses. Watch this deal to gauge the viability of lead gen to fund open content learning sites.
Dell announced that it’s working on a “Next Generation Learning Platform,” which is not really a platform but a promising bundle of data management software, workshops, professional learning services, and more.
Safari Books Online acquired Threepress Consulting, the maker of Ibis Reader, which will enhance the company’s ability to deliver on-demand digital library books online on mobile devices.
Kno is rapidly increasing its relationships with publishers–now 45.
TextbookLand, which helps students find and purchase cheap textbooks online, announced this week that it’s incorporating a Twitter feature. Again, social media finds its way into the ed space.
Disclosure: Mangahigh is a portfolio company of Learn Capital where Tom is a partner

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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