What do teachers bring to app development?
Many games developers pour scorn over the word 'gamification', as it suggests imposing some artificial structure, rendering a game superficial and without true integrity. To some extent I agree, top games have compulsive game play at their core and everything else springs from that. Its something developers feel strongly about and is often hotly debated at Developer Meetups.
However, as an educator I'm not so adverse to gamification, it is actually what teachers do day in and day out. We play charades, supply matching tasks, crosswords, group competitions and many, many strategies which are attempting to 'gamify', sometimes rather dry content.
I would rather students learn 'experientially', and a student centred approach is core to deep learning. Teachers 'light the fire', that can foster the love of life long learning, but the long slog of revision can be vastly improve with some targeted guidance from tech. I'm not sure we can make it 'fun', but we can take the edge off the pain of revision by providing variety and efficiency through gamification.
Another reason for my pro-gamification stance it that even in its 'pointification', form it is in synch with the transformation of data use in schools. The world of education is getting 'smarter', data is driving interventions in school allowing resources to be targeted more effectively. Government initiatives are all pointing at personalised learning plans and games have a place here. 'Pointification', not only motivates, it also allows the student to identify their strengths and areas for development.
Students often over revise the material they feel most comfortable with and duck the less appealing stuff. A student being able to identify and fill the gaps in knowledge is essential to exam success, and to be able to do so in private and at their own pace is a real breakthrough.
The reality of exam study is that there is a point at which it is down to the kids at home hitting their books, consolidating what they have learnt in class. Some kids have no idea how to do this independently! Ed Tech can help them organise that independent study in a smart way. E.g 'smart', flashcards which remove themselves from the pile once mastered, allowing student to focus on weaker points or the harder material.
There is a time and a place for using traditional teaching methods in Ed Tech and our Revision Games Edition is an experiment in just that. It is educational gamification, at it's most traditional, but with a helping 'smart', hand from technology.
Since leaving the classroom this September to set up the MadeByEducators Project, I have missed the kids, so its been lovely to get mails from students who are enjoying our Study Apps. The thing is they are all saying the same thing, our friends are using your apps but we don't have iphones, could you make them available on android. Which we can't for many very good reasons! Developers are focusing on iOS and will do so for the foreseeable future, the cross platform issue is just too enormous on android.
You can take the teacher out of the school but you can't take the hard core social inclusion ethos out! Argggggg! Teachers are so careful to ensure resources and learning opportunities are available to all and I'm not doing that which is very uncomfortable.
I have previously blogged about the private v's state school divide in edtech, there is potential for 'smart', elements in our apps which could give some students an edge, how can we ensure all students get this learning opportunity?
Personalised learning is the watchword in education right now and teachers can't do it all. Technology is going to make learning really interesting, especially for our most vulnerable children so we need to make sure they have access to it.
Dinosaur LettersBy madebyeducators
(2.99) Dinosaur Letters is a wonderful learning to write app. It covers lowercase, uppercase, and cursive letters including the joiners for flow of writing letter to letter. The refreshing thing about this app, is that it is not necessarily about one system of letter formation, but looks at writing as a whole. Letters flow with one continuous movement. This makes learning letters easier for both dyslexic and dyspraxia kids by eliminating starts and stops. I am really grateful for developers like this who take a fresh approach and that chance for the one kid who may benefit by trying something outside the traditional box. Forgot to mention that this app is fun! Not only do you learn, but you get dinosaurs to boot. There are reinforcement mini games of dot to dot dinosaurs and sight word puzzlers. Recommended ~Jo Booth OT on 2013-12-04 18:58:05 ==> User rating: 5 Recommended: Yes
Update of Dinosaur Letters and Spooky Letters in the next month to follow up the release of Crazy Cursive.