Description: Kids are already attracted to digital games, digital environments, and other digital media. Many students — probably the ones already skilled at reading to learn — are learning content and becoming proficient at consulting and cooperating with others to advance their knowledge (i.e., participating in communities of practice).
Because digital media easily, perhaps uniquely, can combine action in relationship with environment, this technology can generate situated meaning — vocabulary used in actual situations, which makes meanings clear and easier to remember — in myriads of settings. Thus digital media, whether in a format custom-designed to be educational or, in some cases, in off-the-shelf products, have the potential to increase the “book” vocabulary, and the concepts attached to such words, for children whose families are unable to do so.
Digital media offer other advantages as well. They naturally elicit problem-solving behavior and attitudes in students, and they have the potential to create different modes of assessment. For example, they can be used to work on real-world problems so that students can thus demonstrate mastery. They can also be used to track how learners learn, moment by moment, so that, eventually, we can give students constant feedback based on our knowledge of various trajectories of learning.
Given the deficiencies in American education, we offer the following six policy recommendations for consideration by business leaders, policymakers, scholars, educators, citizens, and parents.
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