To instill a love for learning: reflection/review – new App ‘Ansel & Clair’ #slide2learn #iear #edapp

I’ve recently had the opportunity to test out ‘Ansel and Clair’s Adventure in Africa’ App from Cognitive Kid. They state a developer mission that is two fold: To encourage children to think, ask questions, synthesize information and develop higher order learning skills; and to instill a love for learning that will carry on from a child’s early years through his/her adulthood.
Pretty high standard to live up to one would expect. So how does the app go about achieving this? The app is listed as being for kids 4-9, an area that is not targeted as much by the 20,000+ education apps in the Apple App store. In fact I am often asked for apps for this age group once kids have outgrown the more common toddler type number and letter apps.
I didn’t have a 4-9 year old lying around, so instead put the challenge to our Miss 3 1/2, an app veteran of 3 years, and the results were very good. Out of the perhaps 100 interactions she performed with the app over the next hour (yes thats right, a 3 year old sat and played for a solid hour on one task!), she only requested help about 5 times. The space visitors story was a little beyond her, but she really enjoyed the exploration side of things, and the taking pictures of her travels part.
I’d say it definitely encourages thinking skills and a love of learning, but will have to explore a bit further on the synthesising front where I’d expect that kids take what they have found along the way and use it to create some content of their own.
Positives: Open storyline, massive amount of animals and sites to explore, mini-games encourage thinking skills, very interactive, holds kids attention.
Negatives: Much of the dialogue is too long-winded for 3-6 year olds, picture journal could use a further extension task like recording ones own audio descriptions of the pictures taken, needs more assistive features like text overlays for deaf students.

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The bottom of the transformation cycle by one pre-digital cartel is reached #slide2learn #transformation

I have followed the course of the changes that the record/music industry has undergone since Sean Parker’s Napster software debuted with great interest. Basically, since digital technology in the form of cd-burners and then distribution software debuted, control over music content shifted much closer to the consumer. Today you can even freely buy legal music online that has no copy-protection, and many artists find that giving away music or selling it at low prices or for what the buyer chooses can actually boost sales.

Sean Parker is now saying that the bottom of the transformation cycle of the record/music industry has been reached and that new models will soon begin dominating. 

This is a fascinating read – but for me the relevance for education is in considering the above in context of the Stephen Heppel quote “education is the next cartel that digital technology will break” in the back of ones mind. Will education go a similar way in regards to content etc?

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Excellent comparison of tablet platforms for the enterprise/education sectors #WebOS #slide2learn #mlearn

Compares iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows 7 and WebOS tablet computer platforms – seems that the HP Touchpad running WebOS may have alot to offer when enterprise/ education users when its released in June, especially as it will also be released for desktops and laptops.

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eBook sales overtake paperbacks at Amazon – they can’t deny us our digital future much longer #slide2learn #mlearn…

This is being reported widely, and is an event I guess we always knew would come, but now it has it’s still a significant moment highlighting that how the world likes to access content has changed. Makes me wonder then- what has not changed to keep up?

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I had an hour with an #Android tablet today & reflected on its suitability for schools #mlearn #slide2learn

The Acer Iconia which runs Android 3.0 has been praised in many reviews for having the lowest price of any comparable tablet device and for being generally well put together. As a long term (if you can call 13 months long term) iPad user who works with schools who are deploying mobile devices, price is a big factor for schools, some of who may be looking at devices other than iPads even if just to differentiate themselves. Hopefully whatever device schools choose its because they have some sound curriculum goals they see the devices as advancing.
Anyway, I have to say I was more impressed with an Android tablet than I expected to be – hardware wise it was mostly responsive and had the bibs and bobs you’d expect. Even the widescreen format that Android tablets use which I’d found annoying elongated on a Windows 7 tablet was fine in this slimmer device. I also quite liked the haptic ‘buzz’ touch feedback when some screen buttons are pressed. However, what I did find lacking was not the device itself but A. the software interface and B. the software. With A, my conclusion is that the interface of Android 3.0 is too close to just being a desktop – options and pop ups and screens seem to operate in different ways that while I had no problem puzzling out, didn’t quite meet the simplicity test I apply for Post-PC devices – ie. Can my 70 year old mother pick it up and know what to do. With B, while there are heaps of Android apps now, only 2000 are optimised for the tablet form factor, which is just unacceptable. Of course its growing over time so in a few months this may not be an issue at all, but for now I think schools would really struggle to find the range of applications necessary to support their curriculum.

I am also unsure how the much more cloud-centric Android fits with schools who legally are required to ensure student and work information is not transmitted through the cloud where it could potentially be stored and accessed outside of the schools control. Apart from that, as a personal productivity machine for educators, there is much to explore.

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