We have spent a lot of time in our district considering what digital literacy should look like at the primary level. To its credit, DreamBox Learning has received strong reviews and many awards. It is also one of the first digital tools, I have seen, which introduces students to learning in a digital environment, while offering ongoing and constructive feedback; it also includes a school-home connection — a key focus in our use of technology in the younger grades. Currently, 10 of our elementary schools are piloting the program.
We have had some success with a home-reading program that I wrote about earlier here, and DreamBox has similar potential with its school and home licensing components.
What I like about it so far:
- the program adapts to the student’s abilities — so students can be working in the same classroom, but at their own level
- it allows students to work through and solve problems — offering them assistance as they need it
- real-time assessment for teachers (and for parents — if enabled for home use) is included; a recent addition of a program component allows for school-wide overviews — a great way to identify areas of focus in a school
- students report the learning is fun — it is not about just taking math equations and putting them online; it is all built around digital manipulatives
- students can spend 30 minutes working with the program in school, and then supplement this at home (or not)
What it doesn’t do:
- DreamBox does not “replace” math and numeracy instruction
- it is linked, but is not an exact match to curriculum
I have worked with it at home with my three oldest children, and the results have been impressive — it has given learning focus to some of their screen time, and they have become more confident in numeracy and solving problems in multiple ways. In addition, as a parent, I have received feedback in ways I have never before with my kids’ learning, and this feedback has given me ideas for extension activities I can do with my kids.
As we make decisions for the fall, it will be interesting to hear the reactions of students, teachers and parents on the program’s value and the role they see DreamBox Learning playing. In the marriage of personalized learning and technology, I think adaptive learning platforms — like that on display with DreamBox Learning — will become increasingly important.