Had been meaning to try geocaching for a while and having been stuck in due to the storm we were ready for an adventure! We could not resist an invite to go geocaching in South East London.
It was incredibly easy, downloaded the geocache app from itunes and there were 4 within a few miles of us. Sandwiches and kit kats packed we joined the rest of our expedition set off on a treasure hunt. We were with experiences geocachers and they took us through the basics, but the app made it incredibly simple. We had two iphones so the kids formed teams to hunt down the cache in the woods and some of the hints were lovely e.g. 'look for the tree under the with 9 branches'. Aside form the hints its very visual, so much so that the youngest members of the group lead the way map reading with the phones. The accuracy of the GPS was almost freeky and you can pinpoint within a few meters.
What a lovely positive game and what great potential for children to work on their map reading skills.
School turns into a Museum of London for just one evening and uses all the latest tech to teach!
Inspiring stuff from an 'Outstanding', South London School. Aside from the 100m (at least), panorama of the London sky line drawn by ALL the students, there were; laptops showing student made powerpoints describing Roman soldiers uniforms; whiteboards showing films of students knee high in Thames mud on a geography trip; demos of mathletics home learning; AMAZING mountains!; Cockney scamps running around everywhere; and ..... QR readers!!!! taking you to clips of students telling you about the exhibits!
Secondary Schools eat your hearts out, they have SO much catching up to do!
I think I was the only one there who knew who Tree Fu Tom was, and was half hoping he would walk us through the Tree Fu moves as I could have aced that, but no joy!
Instead we got treated to a walk through 'Destination Tablet', stats from Ofcom 2013 which comfortingly highlighted the uptake of tablets in the home particularly in households with children (35% had tablets already and its nearly Christmas!).
BBC analytics show that children are using their tablets at breakfast, lunch break, after school (teatime dip!), and then at 10pm at night! This bit worried me as a parent, reading by tourchlight has been replaced by playing by tablet light!
On the brighter side there are less TV's and computers in the bedroom, they have moved to communal areas where there can be greater communication/ parental input.
My family are, I imagine a good example of modern device usage, 20 min ipad time if everyone has been good and TV very much coming second choice of how to spend the precious 'screen time'. As of yesterday my boys homework is online so its 15 min mathletics here and there, not sure whether to factor that into their screen time allowance or not!
Jon's talk of the '10 min rule', and gaming 'snacking', also fits my household. Not so much due to a quick 10 min bite but due to turn taking as we like to maximise the more sociable side of the ipad with the boys discussing strategies etc. The ipad can be an incredible social tool for reluctant talkers, kids really bond over this stuff!
Parental engagement was something I was really interested in as we are about to release a social interaction/ social communication app which the parent can personalise with their own voice. This is similar to the cbeebies parental comment feature. I used this to say well done to my boys and it is a nice touch, although I think it might have meant more coming from Mr Tumble!.
Our game, (still in development), also allows the parent to add names of the child's main friends as characters in the game, which will hopefully support children to generalise greater social interaction from the app into the playground.
The nicest feature of the Cbeebies app from an SEN standpoint was of course Mr Tumble, the children can use a variety of strategies to pop bubbles etc, making it even more accessible. 'Something Special', obviously leads the way in helping and 'normalising', significant educational needs, but it would do no harm for them to talk to Dr Sara Price from the London Knowledge Lab about tangible technologies, (see recent post), it would be a magic mix!
It was a good reminder that taking on a Doctorate is an enormously deep learning experience and most likely all consuming.
Some of Dr Prices projects are well aligned to my interest, e.g.work on an app to develop emotional self regulation in children. I mentioned my hopes for google glass to help people on the spectrum with emotional face recognition.
Dr Price also introduced some interesting new concepts such as using 'tangible technologies' with children with learning difficulties. This could involve the use of touch screen tables that I saw around the TES SEN show to allow children to manipulate objects as part of an interactive, potentially collaborative game. This is something that would work well with our pocket playground social interaction game app, (still in development).
Its inspiring to see the rich collaborative approaches within the lab, I'm not ready to jump into running a company and attempting a doctorate yet so for now I just hope our projects might take the interest of some masters or PHD students so that I can continue to closely follow the work of such a dynamic institution.
Having been brought up in a carnival community, then working in casino's before working in app development and marketing Dr Kriel has an interesting skills set.
12 Stories tall works with large companies developers, testing, advising and fine tuning the optimum app experience and revenue by using clinical psychologists, often for gambling gaming.
So on the one hand using Psychology in a way which make me feel...... well quite sad! But also fills me with slightly car crash fascination, I would love to see how something like that works, as I have absolutely no doubt it would be powerful, after all Milgram and Zimbardo lead the way!
Today I learnt more about Search Engine Optimisation from Adventec's
Top tips re blogging were to sign up as a Google author on Google + and my muddle with google + over trying to sign up as a company was totally explained!
I have missed to boat re signing up to Campus for Mums which sounded perfect for me but hopefully I will catch the course in the Spring.
An amazing resource for London Start ups!
Spooky Letters and Spooky Letters Lite out now on iTunes
Designed for older children working on cursive and pre - cursive letter forming (joined-up-writing!). Completing letters is rewarded with a spooky dot to dot or blending letters spelling game! The cursive style is recommended for children with dyslexia.
Thanks to the Times Educational Supplement for running the Special Educational Needs show at the Business and Design Centre in Islington, its FREE!
Both Pearson and GL psychometric testing providers were there and were able to answer my questions about testing for sensory differences (which would be incredibly useful to ASD families, wouldn't it be amazing to work out how your child perceives the world!).
St David's College were really up for testing our apps to give us feedback to ensure our learning resources support as many students as possible.
Letter shark were super cool even if their graphics need updating (in my humble!).
Secret Agent Society looked excellent and is being used with kids at the Maudsley Hospital so very promising. Looked like a really 'cool', exciting way to develop social communication and the research looked impressive. Training and reusable kit for under 1k, could be shared around a family of schools or borough.
'A revolutionary social skills program for 8-12 year olds with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders.' http://www.sst-institute.net/
And of course, I got to meet some of the people from TES, they are branching into apps so lots to talk about, they have so far been working on some Blackberry apps which makes sense given the audience.
I would say MOST of the people I spoke to around the show were PC based and did not have their resources available on the ipad (yet!), its a real shame that apple are not more open to flash as these incredibly useful, largely poorly funded initiatives are suffering!
It's on today too and if you have not booked you can sign in at the door.
Being educators rather than designers it has taken a while to find our 'image'. It is difficult as we are working across such a broad age range and iOS 7 has really helped.
We have ditched the drop shadows and flat colour works really well with kids apps, as does the Helvetica Neue light style font (for titles only as not so reading friendly!). Now we just need to avoid the flat colours looking too childish for the 16-28 Study app range.
'Mum, can we download 'Subway Surfers'?, we play it at school...so its educational!'.
Hummmm... grumpy mums in the playground gather to discuss the potential overuse of the ipad, again.
Its something that the parents I know are really aware of, its a big issue in homes and most kids I know get their 20 min per day and frankly its a great bargaining chip when you want them to tidy their rooms! So over use in schools can worry parents for lots of reasons.
However... on closer inspection/ inquisition the kids are using the ipads wisely at school and subway surfers availability is more of a playground myth than a reality. The kids are doing what kids do and testing (lets face it playing us for suckers!), to see if they can get the games they want on their pads.
Playground mutterings matter so what can schools do?
As always with parents its communication, communication, communication!