Too Many Apps to Choose From: Using Rubrics to Select Mobile Apps for Preschool

Too Many Apps to Choose From: Using Rubrics to Select Mobile Apps for Preschool

Rachel Ralph (Centre for Digital Media, Canada), Patrick Pennefather (University of British Columbia, Canada), Jillianne Code (University of British Columbia, Canada) and Stephen Petrina (University of British Columbia, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1486-3.ch002

Abstract

Substantive research investigates the effects and impacts of tablets, in particular iPads, on children's education, but few papers discuss support for teachers in deciding which iPad applications can be integrated into the classroom. Even fewer articles are directed towards application developers. This chapter explores two standards for choosing apps for children - the four-pillar model of Hirsh-Pasek et al. (2015) and the rubric for the evaluations of educational apps for preschool children (REVEAC) by Papadakis, Kalogiannakis, and Zaranis (2017). This chapter draws from two standards for choosing iPad applications for young children in the classroom and through analysis of two applications will propose the REVEAC for educators and developers while also suggesting specific features that developers could consider when targeting children under 5 years old in educational contexts.
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Introduction

There exists a body of research that shows both the negative and the positive results of integrating technology into the classroom. Children model parent behavior (Feldman, Bamberger, & Kanat-Maymon, 2013; White et. al, 2014). Like it or not children are attracted to digital devices, particularly if new generations of parents provide access to them or children simply observe parents use of mobile devices as they age. In a recent survey children under five years old were found to spend two to three hours per day interacting with devices (Childwise, 2016; Common Sense Media, 2017; Karsenti, 2013). Another survey conducted in the United States found that over 98% of homes have at least one mobile device, of which 43% of children aged 2-4 own their own tablet device (Common Sense Media, 2017). The average time spent on devices continues to grow and the impact of these devices needs to be further explored if we are to better understand the implications of their use. As Common Sense Media (2017) states “the proportion of homes with a tablet has nearly doubled over the past four years (from 40 percent to 78 percent)” (p.23). Some consider this to be a challenging problem as “the average amount of time spent with mobile devices each day has tripled (again), going from 5 minutes a day in 2011 to 15 minutes a day in 2013 to 48 minutes a day in 2017” (Common Sense Media, 2017, p.3). Despite media sensationalism and some research provoking an insurgence of negative associations with mobile devices and other technologies (Cadoret et al, 2018; Kara, 2018), numerous positive outcomes have also emerged. For example, researchers have found that children exposed to media and technology at early ages has resulted in increased motivation for learning, higher level thinking skills such as problem solving as well as the ability to work more independently at an earlier age (Flewitt, Messer, & Kucirkova, 2014; Herodotou, 2018; Karsenti, 2013; Lynch & Redpath, 2014). Faced with pressures within and outside the classroom, educators are forced to make decisions regarding their use of emerging technologies in the classroom. While we could perform a review of the pros and cons of the use of the iPad in early childhood education, we believe that how the iPad is integrated into curriculum and in particular what content (iPad applications) children use, will be of more benefit to teachers.

While there is substantive research that investigates the effects and impacts of tablets, in particular iPads, on children's education, few papers discuss a process that can support teachers in deciding which iPad applications can be integrated into the classroom. Even fewer articles are directed towards application developers in order to better align them with standards that would help them target their software to teachers and students. Our goal is twofold: (1) to draw from two standards for choosing iPad applications for young children in the classroom; and (2) based on analysis of two applications, to propose specific features that developers could consider when targeting children under 5 years old in educational contexts. This chapter will explore two standards for choosing apps for children - the four-pillar model of Hirsh-Pasek et al. (2015) and the rubric by Papadakis, Kalogiannakis, and Zaranis (2017). While the former is simple, the latter has been validated. In this chapter, two apps, Sock Puppets and ChatterPix Kids were evaluated using the two frameworks. While the simple one makes for a quick uptake and provides a foundation of evaluation for educators, the validated framework is not only validated but provides a higher level of rigour across multiple categories. Before getting into the evaluation of each app, we will provide a background of the use of iPads in early education settings.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Rubric For The Evaluations of Educational Apps For Preschool Children (REVEAC): Developed by Papadakis, Kalogiannakis, and Zaranis as a rigorous method for app selection based on four key areas: educational content, functionality, technical characteristics, and design.

iPad(s): Apple’s tablet mobile device first on the market in 2010.

Screen Time: The amount of time spent in front of a screen (TV, computer, mobile device, etc.) more often referring to passive viewing versus interactive experiences.

Mobile Devices: A variety of devices including but not exclusive to: smartphones, tablets (iPads and other brands), and other touch devices (like iPods).

National Association For The Education of Young Children (NAEYC): a professional membership organization for children ages 0-8 that focuses on promoting early learning, including practice, policy and research.

Montessori: A non-traditional school model where children have more “freedom”, self-regulated/directed, hands-on, and multi-aged.

Four Pillar Model: Created by Hirsh-Pasek, K. et al to provide a framework for choosing appropriate educational apps on tablets. The four pillars are: active learning, engaged learning, meaningful learning, and socially interactive learning.

Waldorf: From Rudolf Steiner, this education model promotes students artistic and practical skills holistically focusing on development of creativity and imagination.

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