Wisconsin launches initiative to expand tech education

The University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction are teaming up to bring educational apps and games to K–12 institutions throughout the state. UW–Madison developers will design software to encourage education not just in IT but in other areas as well. The apps are being developed by a team at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery which already has experience with similar work.

Besides expanding learning methods, these apps make it easier to track students' progress and to personalize materials for each user. Officials also hope that the digital component will help in the age-old struggle of making learning fun. One of the initial rollout's focus groups will be students who are at risk of dropping out.

"If we send kids out into the woods with notebooks, they could do some great things, but they're somewhat limited," said program manager David Gagnon to the UW–Madison website. "If we're learning about plants and animals, students can go out and document phenomena with the HD camera and audio recorder on their phone and have all that data tagged with GPS time stamps and aggregated back to a Google map for discussion back in class."

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers added that his department is working on a portal that would allow educators at all levels to access digital learning resources, and that the apps developed by this partnership will be included in that project.

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