To offer children an opportunity for a no-cost quality pre-K education and to gain insights about the use of its learning software, Waterford Institute established the Waterford Community Center in 2005. The Community Center is open to four and five-year-olds in the Salt Lake City area and is free to all participants. Approximately 20 children attend each session, and current enrollment is about 200 students per week. The Community Center provides children with access to high-quality, highly effective reading, science, and math software as well as group learning time with a qualified teacher.
Children at the Center give Waterford designers, curriculum specialists, and programmers insights into the program’s learning gains, any roadblocks to learning gains, age-appropriateness, usability, and likeability—a key to motivating the children to continue using the program. What is learned from the Community Center is integrated into Waterford’s programs, and, in that way, the Community Center is the epicenter of technology-based education for young children reaching far beyond the children it serves directly.