Blog Archives

iPads in the Digital Classrooms

Tom Sullivan writes that;

“Two-year-old Mia traces out a letter on the screen with her forefinger, then claps with joy when the computer chants “wonderful!” and emits a slightly metallic round of applause.

The preschool group at Tanto International School in central Stockholm is just getting used to a new batch of iPads — one for every two children — and it’s a noisy, chatty affair.

“They really enjoy playing this app. It’s really good for learning pronunciation,” said their teacher Helena Bergstrand.

Bergstrand, along with nearly 90 percent of teachers polled by the city council, believes that iPads and tablets help motivate children to learn.

– ‘More interactive’ –

“There’s an instant appeal with an iPad … they love it!” she says, raising her voice over the din as she moves around the table to help the children.

“It’s more interactive (than pen and paper).”

Petra Petersen at Uppsala University has researched the rapidly growing use of tablets in preschools — recording children when they interact with the technology and each other.

“In the schools I’ve looked at, they usually sit together in a group and its very collaborative, there’s a lot of body contact and verbal communication,” she said.

“These tablets are very multi-modal — they have colours, sounds, spoken words, and things that interest the children — that’s part of what makes them so popular. A large part of learning is about having fun, and the children have a lot of fun with them.”

In Sweden, like in many countries, small children often play games on tablets and laptops long before they encounter them at school.

According to the national media council, close to 70 percent of Swedish two- to four-year-olds play video games.

Nearly a half (45 percent) of children aged two have used the Internet — perhaps unsurprising in a country with one of the world’s highest mobile broadband penetrations.

“It’s more or less prioritised in schools now, to bridge the gap between schools and the environment children are living in,” said Peter Karlberg, an IT expert at the National Education Agency, referring to the thousands of tablet computers bought by public and private sector schools in the last few years.

And that has put increasing pressure on teachers to get up to speed — one in every two surveyed have said they need special training.

– ‘Still a taboo’ –

Felix Gyllenstig Serrao, a teacher in the western city of Gothenburg, has taken computer-aided teaching further than most, using the popular Swedish game Minecraft to teach children with behavioural and concentration problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome.

“I bring something to the classroom that they like — that they do in their spare time — to make them want to be in school,” he said.

“Minecraft is very good because it’s so open and creative … I usually use it to make a topic more alive.”

Serrao — a games enthusiast himself — teaches 12- to 15-year-olds subjects like mathematics and history, using the game’s building blocks, often called “digital lego”, to make maths problems tangible or to illustrate scenes from history books, building them in the game after the formal part of the lesson has ended.

“It reinforces what they learn — when they return to the game later and see there’s a pyramid there or a town we built they remember the lesson.”

He said Sweden has a long way to go before schools can exploit the full potential of digital classrooms.

“There’s still a taboo around games. When I talk to older teachers about this they usually frown — thinking that video games have nothing to do with learning,” he said.”

To read the full article click here;

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gVyfCvjc0cDbrWrVeOdymBqmwK7A?docId=49c2368b-2691-4a06-abf4-380f80c822b3

Science Educational Games with Max and Ruby

iPhone Screenshot 5

You don’t find too many science games for preschoolers, but this is a good one.  Max and Ruby is one of my sons favorite shows.  He was so excited to hear that they have a game with the characters from the show.  The game seems very easy at the beginning, but then it becomes more challenging as the player makes progress.   This game has good scaffolding, good graphics, good music, and most importantly good science.  My son loves it!

iGameMom writes that;

“I am a firm believer that science should, and can be taught at a very young age. I also agree it is challenging to teach science concepts to young kids. You have to convey the concept in a manner that young minds can understand and grasp. It takes the full understanding of science and early childhood education to perfect the task.  Max and Ruby Science Educational Games is a science app teaching preschool to kindergarten kids science concepts with fun engaging games.  It does wonderful job in conveying the science concepts via fun games.”

To read the full article on iGameMom click here;

http://igamemom.com/2013/12/11/play-fun-science-educational-games-with-max-and-ruby/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Igamemom+%28iGameMom%29

A New Report Released on the Effectiveness of Digital Games for Early Childhood Education

Digital_Games_Report_Blog

Neil Peirce finds that;

“Although there is a limited amount of academic research in this area, there is evidence of the benefits of specifically designed games, notably in the areas of phonological awareness, differentiating relationships, memory enhancement, coordinated motor skills, and mathematical development. However, these benefits have only been evaluated over several months in a structured preschool environment. The impact of such games being played intermittently in an informal setting is an area of
open research.”

Download a copy of the report here [PDF].

Scaling difficulty from Dora To Master Chief

vsb9 2 The Learning Curve in Games: From Dora to Master Chief

 

Robert Edwards of the Vancover Sun writes that “Scaling difficulty is something found on all levels of design, and when creating games for children this thorny issue is even more prickly. There has to be a challenge, for if a game is too easy and plays itself, it won’t engage a child. If it is too difficult, even by small amounts, they’ll get frustrated and either give up, or have the parent play for them.

It’s an issue we’ve faced in Pawcho. We took a look at some of the Dora the Explorer games during our initial design pass, to see how they approached difficulty. What we found was that many games aimed at children totally eschew any form of difficulty curve, presenting the main mechanic and never deviating or building on it. It was a crucial design decision for us not to follow this pattern.

Early Childhood Education is about building blocks. You take a skill, teach it, and have the child build on that to do a more difficult task. Pawcho’s main mechanic is drawing letters, initially in mostly block upper case. As the game progresses we introduce lower case letters, mixed in with the upper case, not only to teach children the two alphabets, but to slightly increase difficulty. In addition, the story, while still remaining silly and childish, takes on elements of complexity (Such as Pawcho interacting with various characters) to further  teach them about more advanced narrative. Neither of these is meant to be radical, or game changing on a fundamental level, but simply challenge the child a bit more when playing the game. A game like Halo, starring the Master Chief, will progressively introduce harder enemies, more weapons and vehicles to challenge the player, and we emulate this through harder letters, more options, and a story designed to engage, and challenge at the same time.”

To read the full article click here;

http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/05/28/the-learning-curve-in-games-from-dora-to-master-chief/