Why did SPORK decide to introduce a tablet-based learning platform in schools?
For young people, tablets and other interactive digital devices have become an integral part of their daily lives. We give our students tablets to extract the best from this invention. Tablets are not a substitute for teachers, the school community, or the classroom environment.
Don’t educators know by now that tablets work well as an educational tool?
Yes, they can, when used correctly. I personally believe that introducing tablets into the classroom is as important as the invention of the printing press. But even for those that don’t like them, it’s extremely shortsighted to ignore that for most young people, tablets are as inseparable from their lives as electricity.
Why create SPORK when there are existing systems available on the market?
I have over 20 years of experience building a curriculum, and curriculum management software, for a school network that I co-founded, BASIS Charter Schools, which are consistently on top of school rankings lists in the United States. I did not achieve these results by using others’ curricula. I did it by learning from the systems around us, and then inventing new and better ones. SPORK is built in that same spirit.
So, how is SPORK better?
SPORK is built to assure that teachers understand, and have at their fingertips, what is expected of them. At the same time, SPORK gives teachers the freedom to use their own knowledge, experience, and pedagogical skills to deliver the best results.
Why would any parent want their child to spend more time on the tablet?
Once they start using the tablet as a learning tool, students develop a more thoughtful attitude towards technological devices. With a pencil, you can both draw for fun or do your homework. There can be time to relax and time to work with any tool, including the tablet!
Can schools and parents afford this new tool?
Using SPORK ultimately brings savings. The SPORK license comes with built-in textbooks that would otherwise need to be purchased. There are also significant savings from printing and copying costs since all support and instructional material can be delivered electronically.
Once you buy SPORK, are you stuck with it?
No, of course not. Schools and school systems can sign up for SPORK for one year; if they’re not pleased with the educational gains and student and teacher progress from this unique, cutting-edge tool, they can revert to any other system or go without a tablet the following year. We do not lock the users in, and believe the quality and usefulness of the system will convince them.
What about student privacy, and the proprietary nature of material created by teachers?
Information about students, including their interactions with teachers, is always protected—to the same extent that, say, school assessment results are. As far as sharing resources created by authors contributing to SPORK—and teachers using SPORK in the classroom—the level of privacy and intellectual rights protection is up to the organization utilizing SPORK. User-created resources can be completely protected, if that’s what a school or district wants.
How do schools, school districts, and school networks decide to use SPORK?
We call SPORK users “Tenants.” The typical SPORK Tenant is a school system consisting of a group of schools with a centrally-managed curriculum. But SPORK also works well for individual schools, or even selected groups of students from one or several schools. Anyone with the decision-making power to shape a SPORK Tenant’s curriculum and make economic decisions can purchase a SPORK license.