An iPad in the Toy Box

What happens when a parent gives their child unlimited access to an iPad? We’ve heard time and time again that children’s screen time should be limited, that kids left to their own devices will sit for hours in front of the TV, computer, or mobile device, slowly turning their brain to mush. Wouldn’t they?

Journalist Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic wanted to find out for herself whether this fear is based in reality or not. In a conversation with NPR’s Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin, Rosin described how she placed an iPad in her four-year-old’s toy box and regarded it as though it was just another toy car or action figure. Her son was able to choose for himself which toy he wanted to play with, and for how long. What Rosin found was that after the first week and half, during which her son was indeed glued to the tablet, the iPad shockingly “fell out of rotation like any other game.” No parental-enforced limits on screen time, no mushy brains.

What do you think? Would you consider putting the iPad in the toy box and treating it like just another toy, or would you prefer to monitor your child’s screen time?

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?”

Welcome to Next Gen Math

We are a team of interactive media producers and educational researchers on a mission to create and evaluate new ways of learning and teaching using mobile technology – tablets, specifically – in preschool. Join us as we share our journey through this blog and wrestle with these critical questions:

  • How can a media-rich curriculum supplement support math learning in preschool?
  • How can we take best advantage of all that tablet technology offers learning in the preschool learning environment, where learning is social and often teacher-mediated?
  • How might the technology begin to shift pedagogical practices?
  • What kind of collaboration is developmentally appropriate for four year-olds?

The Next Generation Preschool Math is a 4-year, $3.5m research project that seeks to answer these questions and pose new ones. In partnership with research scientists from the Center on Children and Technology at EDC and SRI International, WGBH will be designing a blended learning suite of 8 tablet apps. The apps will be complemented by non-digital materials designed to integrate with the rhythms and spaces that make a preschool classroom tick – learning centers, snack time, recess and story time.