The TechCHAT series invites teachers, media specialists and other educators from across the country and around the world to share how they’re using technology to enhance instruction and student learning. Contact us about sharing your classroom tech ideas and lessons learned.
Charly James is a tech contributor to Bits & Bytes and Dandelion Moms, social media manager for Ellie’s Games, and founder of One APPY Mama. A “supermom” and education enthusiast, James answered some of our questions about apps in the classroom.
Read part 2 of James’ TechCHAT.
Does the use of educational apps and games help with student learning? Are these new methods helping students learn faster? Better?
I personally feel that the use of apps and games help with student learning (and enrichment). Today is all about technology, and children are being given their parents’ iPhones before they can even walk or talk, so having these methods implemented into the classroom (at school or at home/homeschooling) helps make learning both faster and better.
A lot also has to do with the quality of apps being delivered on a daily basis to the app store and Android markets (as more and more developers are cross-platforming). Having iTextbooks and apps that start at a young age and grow with a child are extremely important—the market is inundated, so you have to find a balance of fun games that may start out with hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills and then go into phonics, early reading, math and more.
Just as a teaching method may not work for every student, “not all apps are for all kids,” so you have to find what works for you and yours. I have my list of favorites, of course, and I have a son who is on the spectrum along with having a mitochondrial disease and other medical diagnoses, so his variety of apps for learning and fun are totally different than my daughter’s.
They both were in speech therapy; however, both used different developer apps to achieve success. It just took finding what worked for them individually. We are currently using the Early Learning University apps with my son, and I’ve noticed improvement in just the last few weeks on the models I’ve purchased for him. I’m really very pleased thus far, and I think I’ve told everyone I know about them!
How do interactive eBooks compare to traditional active reading?
My daughter is a huge reader and loves eBooks. If I’m busy cooking dinner, she can actually touch a word and have it “read aloud” to her. iBooks/eBooks/iTextbooks engage children of all ages, regardless of the amount of interactivity on each page (when they are younger they want this, but as they grow, that changes in a variety of ways that make learning fun). I’m an advocate for interactive books, and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what digital books can do!
I also find as kids grow up (as I have older stepchildren) that when it comes to reading an eBook (for instance, one on which you are writing a report), you can now take a section of the book or a name or a word and click on it and automatically go into your browser or another app and put it all together. The information is at your fingertips, without having to go to the library and do the research that way. This is a library that never closes, and the possibilities are endless, as are the apps being developed just for this use.
Also, I love that if I find a developer that has written an iBook or eBook my kids really enjoy, I can automatically see what else they have available, or see similar digital books. I’m like a kid in a candy store with all the books for both of my kids (and yes, even myself). We own more eBooks/iBooks than we do apps (and we own a ton of apps).
Don’t do away with traditional books, however. In traditional reading (of which I am still a fan), it is more about the feel, the touch of the book or the smelling of the pages. We still use traditional books for bedtimes (compared to a tablet, paper books are more relaxing and easier to hold in bed).
Read part 2 of James’ TechCHAT.