Apps Create New Opportunities for Old Ideas


Remember Reading Rainbow? If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you probably do. The beloved children’s television show encouraged boys and girls to read to increase literacy rates and educate youth. Famous Star Trek TV star, LeVar Burton, hosted the show on PBS until 2006—an impressive lifespan of 23 years.

Reading Rainbow was one of the first PBS shows to be broadcast in stereo. At the time, using television to educate kids and encourage reading was incredibly innovative and successful. At first, it was intended to be only broadcast during the summer months when many kids planted themselves in front of the TV screen. But its popularity soared and it became a long-standing and Emmy Award-Winning show.

“The conversation back in the day was, ‘Is television going to be the death knell for education?’” LeVar said. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute. Television offers us an amazing opportunity as a technology. Why? Because the engagement factor is solved. Kids have self-selected for us what they want the point-of-purchase to be.””

“Over time, it was proven that children who watched Reading Rainbow were entertained, yes, and inspired by the books that they saw on the show, the other children they saw who were viewing books on the show, and the video field trips that took them to places that they had no idea existed in reality,” he said. “Among those kids, their reading comprehension skills soared.”

Like LeVar says, some people push back against new technology in fears of it threatening educational efforts. But as in the case with Reading Rainbow, it is obvious that technology can be a powerful tool to educate society.

Today, youth still watch TV, but a large part of the information they consume comes from the computer, tablets, and video games. When Reading Rainbow went off the air in 2009, LeVar saw it not as the death of the movement, but an opportunity to take it further in a different medium.

Three years later, LeVar launched the Reading Rainbow App, and it became one of the most downloaded educational Apps in the iTunes Store. It allows children to read unlimited books, explore video field trips starring Burton, and earn rewards for reading.

In May of this year, Kickstarter launched a campaign for the Reading Rainbow App to make it available on the Web, smartphones, game consoles, and other streaming devices. Within 11 hours, they raised millions of dollars—making the App available to as many as 7,500 low-income classrooms.

The truth remains that technology provides endless opportunities for people to connect and learn. Students are no longer limited to using pen and paper in the classroom, or television for classroom resources. Tablets, smartphones, Apps, and cloud technology will revolutionize the way we learn. Reading Rainbow is an example of where technology can take us into the future.

AlvaEDU develops educational Apps and the CourseFlow learning development platform to enable educators to create and publish online learning.  To learn more about how AlvaEDU is transforming education, click here.

To read more about the Reading Rainbow App and their campaign, read the article by Education Dive or visit LeVar’s website and make a contribution to online education.






The Latest News in EdTech

ipad_studentAccording to new insights from a research report, “Online College Students 2014: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences,” about one-third of college students are getting their education online entirely. The rest of them are either taking classes completely on campus, or are in blended classrooms—doing part of their coursework online and other portions on campus.

Online education is no longer a novelty; it’s commonplace and increasing in every educational institution worldwide. As these opportunities increase, the marketplace evolves. We are in the midst of a transformation of the way people shop, choose, consume, and endorse education.

The news source Education DIVE recently did an article covering some of the key news in online education today, resulting from the recent research performed by The Learning House Inc.—which helps colleges create online degree programs.

Here are a few points on what the online education marketplace looks like this year.

Competition is rising

Since online education is no longer a new innovation, students have the opportunity to shop around for the right online degree—and they have a lot of options. More universities are offering programs that are done completely online. Students are looking for high job placement rates, affordable prices, and the ability to transfer credits to other schools. The Learning House reported that the majority of students cared most about the overall reputation of the college or university.

Cost is not the deciding factor

Students are considering a lot of factors when choosing to take an online course, and price is not the main one. Online degrees are not cheap, and in some cases even more expensive than a traditional education. Education DIVE reported: “Among students who had already enrolled in an online program, 66% of undergraduates and 79% of graduate students said they didn’t select the least expensive program. Financial aid is critical for about half of all online students, but only 20% say they would not attend an institution if their financial aid needs were not been met.” The study shows that men and women are willing to pay more money for a higher-quality program. Quality and reputation is key.

The motivation has changed

Due to a poor economy and the job crisis, more people are unemployed and looking for work. The amount of unemployed online students has risen from 16 percent in 2012 to 30 percent in 2014. A degree in a related field is more important than ever in acquiring a job, other than experience. Completing a bachelor’s or working on a master’s could be the deciding factor a person gets hired or not. So many are rushing to the computer to get a degree in hopes of getting employment or their dream job. Statistics in this report show that about 40 percent of online students reported improvement in their employment status after graduating.

To read the full reports and article, click on the links below:

Education DIVE Article

The Learning House Research Report