[EducationCity] Developing Engaging Content for the Elementary Learner

Thursday, January 21, 2016 -- Madison Michell

What does it take to build exciting and challenging academic content that engages the elementary learner?

This population of students presents a unique set of circumstances. They are at the very beginning of their academic journey, their attention span is limited, and their familiarity with technology is just taking off. It’s no surprise that keeping these students engaged in the classroom can be a challenging task! That being said, students during their formative years are also imaginative, uninhibited, and ready to soak up anything you throw their way. So, how do you bottle all of that potential up and appeal to the elementary student?

Edmentum’s online pre-K through 6th grade program, EducationCity, does just that by expertly weaving motivating, interactive elements into the fabric of its learning solution. In the program’s latest release this winter, we added 157 new pieces of content across three different subjects—Language Arts, Math, and Science. You can take this free language arts activity for a spin to see the new content in action!

Today though, let’s pull the curtain back a little further for a behind-the-scenes view. We’ll take a close look at the development process for EducationCity, from creative conception through production, and consider what that means to you and your students when you pop open EducationCity for a classroom lesson.

What’s an EducationCity Activity, and how is it meant to be used in the classroom?

Activities are interactive, standards-aligned pieces of content created to help build and reinforce a specific skill. Each activity in EducationCity also includes related downloadable resources in the form of Lesson Plans, Teacher Notes, and printable Activity Sheets.

The interactive Activities themselves can be accessed in two forms. With an educator login, you have the option to show an Activity in Whiteboard Mode. Here, the content is optimized for interactive whiteboards so you can work through the tutorial and questions with your students in a whole class setting as guided practice.

Students can also log in to EducationCity independently with their own set of credentials to complete assigned activities. Using a computer, laptop, or tablet device, they can launch the activity for a fresh experience that pulls from a large bank of questions. Many activities include a short tutorial to refresh the learner on the given topic and prepare them for the practice that lies ahead. Once they begin answering questions, their score will display at the top of the screen and their answers will be recorded for the teacher to later review.

With the flexibility to be used with a whole class or small group, and for teacher-guided instruction or assigned as independent practice, activities represent a critical content type available in EducationCity.

How does an EducationCity Activity get created?

Before each new activity is ever made available within EducationCity, it’s important to acknowledge the four to eight weeks of planning, writing, editing, production, and creative work that goes into development. For the dedicated individuals behind the scenes, the journey from identifying a learning standard to delivering the finished product is a thoughtful and collaborative effort.

It all begins with an experienced content team, made up of subject-matter experts, who start by crafting the story itself—infusing the personalities of the EducationCity characters with a relatable and familiar storyline that breaks down complicated learning tasks into bite-sized pieces of consumable information. From there, the Production and Art teams help to create an engaging visual that brings the content to life. Each character, scene, and audio selection is expertly applied with the elementary learner in mind. Numerous rounds of editing and approval accompany each stage of the process before the final piece is ever revealed. From start to finish of this rigorous process, no stone is left unturned to ensure that only the very best result is made available to students.

How are Activities built specifically for the elementary learner?

Just as important as the rigor of the content is the quality of the experience for the elementary student. EducationCity incorporates helpful features specifically designed to engage students, provide support, and streamline the online experience.

A big component of making learning successful starts with offering meaningful feedback and encouragement to motivate learners. Friendly sounds and audio are infused in the program to support correct answers, while question explanations and encouragement is put in place to guide students towards future mastery.

Additionally, to support those students just beginning their academic journey as well as struggling learners, features and preferences are made available to improve the learning experience. This includes text to speech buttons, the ability to extend or remove timers, and options to set individualized mastery goals.

Finally, it’s important for all of our users that technology does not inhibit performance. For that reason, we make specific choices about program design to simplify navigation. This includes fewer, larger buttons on the screen that incorporate intuitive images and colors for easy understanding by even the youngest of students. Each careful decision incorporates customer feedback and educational expertise to improve the overall experience for elementary students and help them achieve deeper learning.

Want to find out if EducationCity’s time-saving teacher resources and standards-aligned student activities are the right fit for your elementary classroom? Check out this language arts activity, or start your free trial today!