BetterAt/School—A Platform for Student-Centered Mobile Learning is a report of the outcomes of a research project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of the project was to explore ways that interest based learning software might bridge the gap between the Common Core Standards and the lack of motivation frequently found in low-income students. The BetterAt/School project built upon research begun in 2005 at IIT Institute of Design (ID) funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This work centered on identifying ways that digital media could be beneficial to interest based learning. One of the initiatives that emerged from that was the Electronic Learning Record, which quickly developed into BetterAt. A core assumption of this work was that learning is enhanced when it relates to a student’s goals and interests. For kids from home environments where they see a variety of jobs and people with choices about their future, the standard school experience can be supportive. For kids without these examples and choices, digital media can help by letting them start with their existing interests to expand their view of possible options. The initial challenge for the project was to find ways to relate intrinsic interests to the Common Core, with the ultimate goal of helping students prepare for college and productive careers. We thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of research at Institute of Design.
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