Digital Learning

Mind the Gap: Improving Access to High Quality Digital Media

Based on marketplace inefficiencies, the warp speed of change in the digital environment, and a need for stronger guidance from both parents and professionals, new divides in the quality of educational experiences for low-income households have emerged. SCE is thrilled to partner with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and First Book, a nonprofit organization that connects publishers and community organizations, on a research project that will offer one of the first major assessments of the technology infrastructure and content needs of those groups looking to help low income and socio-economically disadvantaged kids.

The goal of the “Mind the Gap” initiative is to build a more robust, evidence-driven distribution and support network for both developers of digital learning products and education professionals in order to better reach underserved communities.

Through this partnership, the Cooney Center and First Book are exploring opportunities to deliver high-quality digital content to underserved youth through First Book’s vast network of over 185,000 pre-school, schools and community-based programs. The Cooney Center is analyzing market data and funding opportunities related to afterschool and other informal learning spaces, and producing case studies of developers and investors and the professionals who use digital media in their instruction of underserved youth.

A survey of over 1,400 teachers and school administrators as well as out-of-school program directors and instructors highlights some of the needs and opportunities for those wanting to use games to engage and educate. Forty-Seven percent of teachers and school administrators and 34% of out-of-school program directors and instructors have expressed interest in learning more about using game consoles and other gaming tools to tebarriers_final1ach. What are the major impediments to those educators unlocking the power of game-based learning and other e-learning tools?

The barriers to the use of games and other technologies echo what we have heard before from general surveys of teachers. Still, for those serving lower-income students the challenges often are more complex than in other schools. The big three barriers both in- and out-of-school folks reported were:

  • Cost
  • The age of technology
  • Lack of training

The results are an initial look at a far larger analysis of the state of video and other digital games in the classroom that will be released in 2016.

The Cooney Center is releasing a series of reports and tools on to inform developers and investors interested in reaching afterschool markets and low-income communities. Here are a few of the recent reports:
Cost, Training Top Challenges for Low-Income Providers

Major Project Looks at Digital Access among Low-income Kids

Low-Income Programs, Schools Surveyed on Tech Use