The iPad as Video Camera/ Notebook

Our eyes are constantly peeled for innovative ways teachers are using iPads in their classroom, and this time, we set our sights across the pond to a school in Switzerland. In a blog post for future tense, a collaboration between Arizona State University, the New America Foundation and Slate, edtech thought leader Lisa Guernsey writes about the Zurich International School, where each of the approximately six hundred first- through eight-graders have been given an iPad.

Here’s the kicker: rather than treating the devices as portable screens or gaming devices, the teachers view the iPads as tools that allow their students to record, capture, and document their learning. Students spend more time producing content – drawing pictures, filming videos, recording themselves talking –  than consuming content. As Lisa writes, the focus was not on what’s coming out of the iPad, but on “what was going into it.”

Allowing students to create content (a process made easier by technology like mobile devices) is a powerful way to engage and motivate them in their learning. As we explore the varied ways teachers are making use of the affordances of iPads, we’re becoming more and more convinced that there is no one-size-fits-all use of mobile devices in classrooms, and that a diversified approach – a recipe including game play, content creation, and content consumption – can work best when teachers personalize for their own classroom and students. The possibilities are endless!

Why the World Needs NGPM

(And other research-based apps!)

It’s a brave new world.  The iPad is only three years old (the same age as some of our users), and already in a quarter of American households.  We have decades of research on television’s effects on children, but virtually none on the effects of tablets and other mobile devices.  This comes as no surprise.  Research is time-consuming. Research is expensive.  Let’s face it, research is often tedious.  But we need research.  Those decades of television research advanced our understanding of how to harness the medium for good, and resulted in shows like Sesame Street, Arthur, and Blue’s Clues.

Next Generation Preschool Math isn’t just about contributing to the learning of individual children, it’s about contributing to a burgeoning field of knowledge. Our research partners at EDC and SRI recently completed a pilot study in 3 classrooms across the country, and are currently preparing for a large-scale study with sixteen classrooms throughout the US.  We’re already sharing lessons learned with educators and technologists at conferences across the country (see “NGPM @ SXSW”), and we can’t wait to share the results of the latest study with children’s media professionals everywhere.

Families and educators are worried about what this brave new world will bring for the children they care about. Rightfully so. The only way to assuage their fears and help them navigate it is through research. It’s why we need NGPM.

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?

4 year old navigating an intricate user interface in a painting app

Came across this video as I was researching other NPGM related things. I was just impressed by this 4 1/2 year old’s ability to use a fairly complex interface, requiring a number of different types of gestures, learn and retain newly discovered elements of the application’s interface, and to stay focused on her task for a significant period of time.

Beth on Brushes from Fraser Speirs on Vimeo.