Let’s take a look at the potential tablets and quality apps can have on learning. I am sure we have all seen a 3-year old with a tablet and a picture based app. They almost instinctively know what to do and perhaps what is more fascinating, they stay engaged with it much longer than most other early learning tools. Why is this? Here are several fundamental reasons why apps and mobile tablets can offer a whole new paradigm in early education.
Benefits of Apps and mobile tablets in early education
First is the simplicity of the devices. Tablets are one-click and they are fully ready. The display is simple and launch icons are easy to find. Upgrading operating systems and upgrades to apps are at no charge and virtually automatic. Tablets can be passed out to children at their desks, shared between classrooms and even taken home.
Other amazing features that can be incorporated in great apps include, voice recognition and recording, and motion sensing. Combined, these physical attributes offer an amazing platform around which to build great software. If you think about it, gaming companies have been quick to take advantage of all the above features.
Remember, there are three fundamental ways each of us learn – audio, visual and/or kinesthetic. Quality apps can offer all three of these if they take advantage of this full array of multimedia capabilities.
All learning consists of three basic steps:
- Exposure to the material
- Interaction and practice
- Evaluation of the skills learned
Most apps for the elementary market are quiz apps. They only cover the third phase of learning. They do little or nothing to teach the subject matter or interactively involve the student.
Creative programming can take traditional printed material and make it come to life through these devices. An app can offer video and animations to present the subject material. Unlike a classroom setting, these videos can be paused and re-watched at the user’s command. In a classroom lecture, the material is presented once and if the topics are missed by the student, that opportunity is gone.
The next phase is the interactive practice. This is traditionally known as homework. Unfortunately, the student is often alone with the textbook or workbook to figure out the details. A good app can work through problems and ‘coach’ the student thru animation, audio, and interactive involvement. No book can do this.
Lastly, there is often a need to evaluate the level of retention of the student. Again apps can offer unique ways to perform this step while keeping the student engaged and motivated to master the subject.