Mobile Learning Around the World

Last month UNESCO wrapped up the second annual Mobile Learning Week in Paris, France. The Next Generation Preschool Math team is proud to be a part of a global movement to use mobile technology to improve education.

Here are a few articles that caught our attention on early childhood education and mLearning (mobile learning) around the world.

1.  “The Competition that Really Matters: Comparing U.S., Chinese, and Indian Investments in the Next-Generation Workforce”

2.  “MDGs: how mobile phones can help achieve gender equality in education”

3.  “Can Children Teach Themselves to Read?”

Thoughtful Design of Digital Toys

We recently came across some great “Tips for Choosing Digital Toys for Your Children” from the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media.  How does Next Generation Preschool Math measure up?  Find out below.

“Don’t insert technology when the real-world experience is better.”

The NGPM team believes in the power of play – both on-screen and off. NGPM integrates read-aloud books, board games, playground activities, and snack time mini-lessons to support children’s learning. Digital games supplement these activities and provide experiences that children can’t get so easily in their everyday world, like playing with clouds!

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“The best screen media—and by extension, toy-media hybrids—don’t use every amazing technology available, but choose only those that best suit their goals.”

There are so many ways to use technology to teach math to preschoolers. We started NGPM with devices that are intuitive to preschoolers: iPads. By prototyping over 50 games, we then identified specific game mechanics that would best allow children to explore the math topics and also engage various types of learners. Each game is designed for the unique learning goals.

“Well-designed tech toys—like high-quality screen media—leave room for the child’s active contribution.”

We couldn’t agree more.  NGPM offers traditional self-leveling games, with an objective, scaffolding, and advancement only upon mastering the learning goal presented; “sandbox” games, where children can freely explore; collaborative games for children to contribute to each other’s learning; and opportunities for children to contribute their own content, like creating their own characters with pictures they take of themselves.

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Sandbox game prototype: Pizza Party

 Here’s a peek into one of our first “sandbox” activities. Unlike a game with points and leveling progression, our goal for the sandbox game is to give players a more open-ended experience. We want to give kids tools for a creative, hands-on exploration of the math concepts. This early prototype has no audio or directions. It presents players with a stack of plates and a pizza to cut. Take a look!

Technology in classroom: games have positive impact

Concordia University professor Richard Schmid co-authored a study (published in the Review of Educational Research journal) to answer the question: “Does computer technology have a positive overall effect on learning in the classroom?”

The study showed, in short, that often there were positive impacts but that sometimes there were negative impacts. The study’s authors are now performing a follow-up study, looking into under what circumstances the technology’s effects are positive.

Schmid states, “Where technology does have a positive impact is when it actively engages students, when it’s used as a communication tool, when it’s used for things like simulations or games that enable students to actively manipulate the environment.”

Looks like NGPM is off to a good start. Looking forward to more research and to the research results on the games and manipulatives from NGPM.

WeetWoo! A Safe Video Player App for Preschool Kids

WeetWoo! is a great app for the preschool market. Basically, it’s YouTube for young children. The videos on the app have all been reviewed and handpicked by parents and are deemed safe and appropriate for the age group. The layout of the app is really easy to use and the video content ranges with clips from Sesame Street, Caillou, Blue’s Clues, and many others.

Reviews for this highly rated app can be found here and here.

PlayScience Lab Notes – A One Stop Source for Everything Children’s Media

As we all know, it’s often difficult to comb through the myriad of blogs, webpages, review sites, and research reports that reflect the current findings and trends in children’s media. PlayScience is a company that specializes in collecting field data as well as writing blogs about childhood technology, media, and play. However, my favorite offering from PlayScience is the Lab Notes; a weekly e-newsletter. Every week, the LabNotes bring together that week’s biggest articles, videos, and posts about anything dealing with childhood, technology, and media. Some of the topics from recent Lab Notes newsletters include:

PlayScience is a fantastic way to stay updated on recent findings in childhood play and education without having to spend a lot of time investigating.