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It often surprises people when I mention that education
accounts for fully one-fifth of nonprofit activity, second only to human
services. Of course libraries are all about education in its various forms.
There are now a dizzying array of online resources in this area. But what's good, effective,
and also entertaining for kids? I think I may have a lead for you.
PowerMyLearning is a new, free online
resource that has educational games, videos, and other activities for
elementary, middle-school, and high school-aged students. The platform is currently available in English and Spanish. I have to say that this turned out to be a
pretty time consuming piece to write because the games are pretty fun and
surprisingly high quality. There are hundreds of things on there. Some of the
videos, however, I found to be a bit sleepy. This site carefully
aggregates and vets educational content from places like the nonprofit Khan Academy, PBS Kids, Discovery
Channel, and other reputable online educational sources.
The PowerMyLearning online resource launched
just a few years ago and was developed by the New York-based educational nonprofit, CFY. CFY was founded by
Elisabeth Stock in 1999 with the mission of helping students do
better in school by improving their learning environments at home. Since then,
the organization has partnered with hundreds of schools and provided digital learning resources to 50,000
families in five cities. They’ve had lots of experience seeing what works and
know Elisabeth and am not surprised that she successfully fundraised $7 million
to launch this service with support from the likes of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Broad Foundation, and
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She's something of a force of nature.
The PowerMyLearning activities are organized by subject and
grade level (K-12). The math and language arts materials are geared to the Common
Core State Standards that most U.S. states have adopted. An educator can
assign “Playlists” of activities to students based on school curriculum or
specific student needs. They
can then follow what each student is doing and how much time the student spends
on a particular Playlist or activity whenever they go online to PowerMyLearning.
An assessment component will soon be added to the platform. Parents, teachers and students have access to
the same usage report, which allows for better coordination between parent and
teacher, and greater student accountability.
can also create "classes," which are groupings of students (one to
1,000) that they want to share playlists with. It's important that educators register as educators rather
than parents or students on the site because that will give them full access to
the Playlist and Class features, which are not yet available to parents and
students. It also integrates well with after-school programs and library open-access. Several Boys and Girls Clubs are using the platform to supplement their
efforts to improve student achievement. It is designed not only to enhance
instruction in the classroom, but also to extend learning beyond the classroom.
Rappel, CFY's Director of Strategic Partnerships told me that CFY wants this platform to be used far and wide – not just in the U.S. It's available to anyone
with an Internet connection. It has over 1,600 activities, over 100 of them
Bill Rappel says, "CFY has a decade of experience working
with students, teachers and parents on the ground. We are now are transferring
that experience to the cloud to be able to reach many more people. It's our
mission to help students, teachers,
and parents use digital learning to help students do better in school."
Bill is also eager that nonprofits and libraries know that
CFY can provide you with a "PowerMyLearning desktop icon" that you can put on
your lab computers to explore PowerMyLearning quickly and easily. The icon is customizable so
CFY can provide you with web analytics data showing how many people are using
the platform from your organization’s icon. Nonprofits, Computers for Classrooms, and Computers 2 San Diego Kids are including the PowerMyLearning
desktop icons on the computers they distribute to schools, labs, and low-income families to track the impact of the equipment.
Contact Bill Rappel at email@example.com
to learn more or get a customized icon. For additional information see the recent piece in The New York Times about PowerMyLearning.