Mobile Learning Program provides free PBS KIDS apps to low-income communities
The program, a component of the Ready To Learn Initiative, recently added Wild Kratts “Creature Math” and Dinosaur Train “Classic in the Jurassic Jr.” to the list of apps available
Loading dinosaurs onto a train. Playing games with a talking dog. Building odd-shaped houses with outer space robots.
These aren’t just scenarios that expand kids’ imaginations, and they’re not just games based on PBS KIDS shows. Apps from Martha Speaks, Dinosaur Train, and Cyberchase are now included in the Mobile Learning Program, part of the Ready To Learn Initiative that provides parents and educators in high-need communities with free gift codes for PBS KIDS iOS apps.
The Mobile Learning Program began in March 2012 with two apps – “All Aboard the Dinosaur Train” and “Dinosaur Train Camera Catch.” Today, the program boasts seven apps; Dinosaur Train “Classic in the Jurassic Jr.” and Wild Kratts “Creature Math” are the most recent additions. “Creature Math” lets kids protect their own wildlife sanctuary by practicing addition and subtraction to gather resources for their creature pals. “Classic in the Jurassic Jr.” asks kids to use math skills – like counting, sorting, and using a pan balance – to help Gilbert prepare Troodon Town for the big event.
David Lowenstein, the senior director of Ready To Learn at PBS, said the idea for the program took form as PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting discussed ways to work with partners in high-need communities to provide low-income parents and educators with free PBS KIDS mobile content.
“We want parents and educators in underserved communities who have access to smartphones and tablet devices to be able to download a variety of PBS KIDS apps for free. Through the Mobile Learning Program, they can,” Lowenstein said. “It supports the efforts of PBS member stations, Head Start centers, and other outreach partners to help bridge the achievement gap and improve the learning outcomes of children in their communities through free, anytime, anywhere, evidence-based content. And it demonstrates that every technology can offer an opportunity for learning,” he added.
Tracy Williams, the program coordinator for the Mobile Learning Program, makes calls every week to organizations that request these free app codes. They discuss plans to distribute the codes, answer each other’s questions, and share excitement.
“I’m helping people in underserved communities gain access to children’s content that builds key math and literacy skills,” Williams said regarding why the program is significant. “I come from an underserved community, so I understand the importance.”
Williams is originally from Harlem, New York, and distributed codes there last July.
“I hope to see the program expand a lot and get codes to people who need them,” Williams said. “I also hope it increases the quality of life of kids who need educational opportunities when it comes to gaming.”