Playtime Pad Research Project

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WKAR PUBLIC MEDIA • COMMUNICATIONS
Michigan State University • 404 Wilson Road, Room 212 • East Lansing, MI • 48824

Contacts

Nicole Szymczak, Sr. Dir. of Communications, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
nls@msu.edu 517-353-5981

Julie Sochay, Content and Community Engagement Manager, WKAR Public Media jsochay@wkar.org 517-884-4773

Project Overview

The Playtime Pad Research Project investigates the effectiveness of tablet-based learning initiatives in early childhood math literacy, while providing access to the latest digital learning tools for students, teachers, and parents. Initiated by the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University, the project is a unique partnership connecting PBS and PBS KIDS content, researchers in the College of Education at MSU, and teachers and families in the Lansing School District.

Playtime Pad Research Project

The Playtime Pad Research Project investigates the effectiveness of tablet-based learning initiatives in early childhood math literacy, while providing access to the latest digital learning tools for students, teachers, and parents. 

Initiated by the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University, the Playtime Pad Research Project is a unique partnership connecting PBS KIDS, the College of Education at MSU, and the Lansing School District. 

Through a multi-year research project, kindergarten students across the Lansing School District will each receive a tablet to be used in class for math-based games and exploration. Researchers at Michigan State will study how the tablets are used and effects on learning.

The tablet students receive is a PBS KIDS Playtime Pad, designed to bring interactive educational children's programs and learning tools to young students using PBS KIDS learning initiatives.

PBS KIDS Playtime Pads used in the study are customized to include a special Math Games Study app designed by PBS KIDS software developers in consultation with early childhood education researchers at MSU.

Lansing School District is the largest in the Michigan capital region. As of November 2017, over 1000 students are enrolled in kindergarten classes across 17 elementary schools in the district. Each of those students receives a PBS KIDS Playtime Pad as part of this series of studies.

The first batch of PBS KIDS Playtime Pads will be presented to kindergarten students at Kendon Elementary on Monday, November 13, 2017. Distribution of tablets to all kindergarten students in the district is expected to be complete by the end of December 2017.

More About the Research

The initial research phase focusing on math literacy is headed up by Amy Parks, PhD and Laura Tortorelli, PhD of the MSU College of Education. Their investigations will include a treatment group of students who will use the Math Games Study app for 10-15 minutes at a time, two times per week across a testing period. A control group of students will receive tablets that do not include the Math Studies app. The treatment and control groups will both be encouraged to use the tablets for other uses.

Anonymous data will be collected from the Math Games Study app, periodic surveys of parents and teachers, data from the district's AIMSWEB testing program, and other measures to explore how the tablets are used and effects on learning.

Families who opt out of having their child participate in the research study still receive a PBS KIDS Playtime Pad. No data will be collected from tablets of families who choose to opt out.

The project has been approved by the MSU Institutional Review Board and includes a data-sharing agreement with the Lansing Public Schools. 

More About the PBS KIDS Playtime Pad

The PBS KIDS Playtime Pad is 7-inch HD, COPPA-certified kid safe android tablet, available at retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart. The retail price is listed at $79.99. The PBS Playtime Pads used in the study were acquired by WKAR and customized to include the Math Games Study app.

A full description on the exclusive PBS KIDS Playtime Pad can be found here: pbskidstablet.com

Funding

The Playtime Pad Research Project is funded in part by National Science Foundation, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, WKAR Public Media, Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at MSU, and Lansing Rotary Foundation. Additional funding is being sought to expand the research project.

PBS Playtime Pad Committee

Michigan State University

Prabu David, MSU College of ComArtSci Dean
Amy Parks, MSU College of Education Researcher
Laura Tortorelli, MSU College of Education Researcher
Carol Yancho - WKAR
Julie Sochay - WKAR
Mandy Hampton Wray, MSU College of ComArtSci Researcher
Dar Meshi, MSU College of ComArtSci Researcher
Shina Alade, MSU College of ComArtSci Researcher
Ken Levine, MSU College of ComArtSci
Tracy Donohue, MSU Grad Student
Nicole Campbell, MSU Grad Student
Theresa Quaderer, MSU Grad Student
Ashley Thompson, MSU Grad Student

Lansing School District

LaDonna Mask, Kendon Elementary Principal
Eldon McGraw, Lansing School District Information Manager
Jeff Vanderlaan, Lansing School District Director of Technology
Allison Keskimaki, Lansing School District Tech Information Specialist Andrew Shauver - Ingham ISD Technology Department
Megan Briggs, Kindergarten Teacher
Jamie Love, Kindergarten Teacher
Julie Carpenter, Kindergarten Teacher
Keri Benjamin, Kindergarten Teacher
Christina Powell, Kindergarten Teacher

About PBS KIDS

PBS KIDS is the #1 trusted brand on television. PBS KIDS is committed to making a positive impact on the lives of children through curriculum-based entertainment. With a 360-degree approach towards learning and reaching children, PBS KIDS leverages the full spectrum of media and technology to build knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity. By involving parents, teachers, caregivers and communities as learning partners, PBS KIDS helps to empower children for success in school and in life.

About Lansing School District

Lansing School District is the largest public school district in the Mid-Michigan region and is committed to offering a high quality education to students in a caring, collaborative and excellent learning environment. The Lansing School District has identified a real need for good research in the early elementary age group and in an urban district like Lansing, for research and academic purposes, and to help teachers make learning more effective and fun for kids. With these PBS KIDS Playtime Pads, kids will come to school ready to learn.

About WKAR Public Media

WKAR Public Media is the Michigan Capital Region source for award-winning original television and radio, and the best from PBS and NPR. WKAR is part of Michigan State University College of Communication Arts & Sciences and includes WKAR-TV, WKAR Radio, wkar.org, WKAR Radio Reading Service, WKAR Family, WKAR Ready to Learn and Interactive Video Services.

About WKAR Public Media

WKAR Public Media is the Michigan Capital Region source for award-winning original television and radio, and the best from PBS and NPR. WKAR is part of Michigan State University College of Communication Arts & Sciences and includes WKAR-TV, WKAR Radio, wkar.org, WKAR Radio Reading Service, WKAR Family, WKAR Ready to Learn and Interactive Video Services.

updated 11/13/17

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