This video from the field features children collaborating to figure out how to take pictures of each other so that they can appear in our “Photo Friends” game. Add a dash of teacher facilitation and a thoughtfully designed game for math learning, and we have a very potent combination for learning with technology.
As we delve further into this project, we’re finding out that there’s no one-size-fits-all game or type of game that can meet all the needs of preschoolers as they’re learning math. This video provides a peek at the various learning experiences we’re designing through our different types of games:
Several of our games are self-leveling, which means that they respond to a player’s performance, increasing in difficulty when the player is succeeding, or adding more scaffolding and support when the player is struggling. These games are particularly useful for teachers to see how well a preschooler knows the material, so we’re also working on providing a way for teachers to track their students’ progress.
Some of our games are collaborative, which means that they can be played by more than one person. While this type of game isn’t optimal for tracking how a particular student is doing, it’s great for learning from one another and developing the skills needed to work together and share. Our prototype testing at our preschool partner sites has allowed us to observe all kinds of collaborative play happening, and we’re very excited by what we’ve seen.
(Based on what we’ve seen, we think collaborative learning games will be the centerpiece of any impactful technology supplement in the classroom. While there aren’t a lot of examples out there today, we’re keeping an eye out. Check out this Tigerface Games app and let us know what you think!)
Our last set of games are sandbox activities. Like a real sandbox, which has no single purpose or goal, our sandbox games are designed for free play and exploration. We’re still exploring how to best use this type of game for math learning, but we know that the freedom to wonder and discover is crucial for math learning, and a free-play environment can foster that in the classroom. (Check out this video to learn more about a sandbox prototype we’ve been working on.)
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.
From Phil, a fantastic justification for what we’re doing.