Why Parents should be using Educational Apps at home

For the majority of today’s Parents, using Technology at home with our kids will seem like a no-brainer as we can all see the benefits of using Technology in our own lives whether it’s for business or leisure.  While we might feel no fear in diving into the latest tech ourselves, when it comes to our kids we’re usually a little more circumspect.  We worry about the effect of too much screen time.  We think of the fact that there are over 350,000 apps on the market and baulk at the idea of choosing exactly the right one to suit our child’s particular needs.  And even if we did manage to climb that mountain and make a choice, we feel wary that what we do at home may have a negative impact on what’s already being done at school.  While it might seem like you’re doing your kids a favour by leaving their education to their Teachers, the reality is that children, especially those in Primary benefit enormously from support with learning from their Parents at home and it’s Technology that has allowed that kind of support to happen in a positive and beneficial way.  This blog will try and help explain why Parents should be using Educational Apps at home, delve into the positive impact that Technology is having on Education, whilst supporting positive parent involvement at home with a study by the Department for Education.

Before we grew up and became Parents, our experience in the classroom was a lot different to the world our kids enjoy today.  We will no doubt remember the days of the TV and VCR being wheeled into the room and the videotape doing its thing.  Today kids can watch media a multitude of ways whether it’s a DVD or a streamed video shown to the class on an LCD projector or through a portable media player device like an iPod.  Gone are the days of the overhead projector.  Research in the our day always required a trip to the library to reserve the books we needed where today students get to search for resources online.  And gone are the days of reams and reams of handouts and notes for those absent from a lesson, today teachers can record lectures and notes on an interactive whiteboard and post it all online for students to access in a central resource.  Suffice to say that technology has turned the world of education upside down and the rate at which the change is happening is mind boggling!

 

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To give a bit of insight into the positive impact that Technology has had on Education today, Sarah Kessler at Mashable.com compiled an Education Tech Series where then CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, Don Knezek likened the effect of technology in education to the medical profession saying, “If in 1970 you had knee surgery, you got a huge scar.  Now if you have knee surgery, you have two little dots.”  He goes on to say that in education, technology is helping teachers to see beyond the linear, text-based way of learning to a more versatile type of learning where digital tools are being used to transform the way we demonstrate concepts, assign projects and assess progress.

Mashable’s Sarah Kessler went on to describe 8 ways that technology is improving education:

  1. Digital simulations and models can help teachers explain concepts and processes that are too complicated to demonstrate in a physical classroom for any number of reasons.  Like showing students a virtual greenhouse where students observe how plants cope under different conditions.
  2. Making it possible to learn online means that the reach is global and the effect transformational.  Like a student setting up language lessons through video conferencing with a native speaker where there is the opportunity for exposure to social and cultural perspectives that only physical travel to a destination would usually allow.
  3. Where we used to be limited to counting blocks or beads to learn about the relationship between fractions, decimals and percentages, virtual manipulatives available online now allow students to explore the relationship in a multitude of ways.
  4. Abstract theories about physics used to be taught in a series of complex graphs which often meant the meaning was lost in translation.  Now there are motion sensors to help show the effect of faster or slower rates, as well as sensors that can help students compute dew points or probes to test pH levels.
  5. Technology now allows for much quicker real-time assessments of how students are learning and assimilating information so that teachers know when to spend more time on a particular topic.
  6. Storytelling through Multimedia creates a much deeper sense of learning on concepts that may not have been addressed in a static textbook.  As Knezek says, “It’s no longer the verbal logic or the spoken or written word that causes people to make decisions.  Where you go on vacation, who you vote for, what kind of car you buy, all of those things are done now with multimedia that engage all of the senses and cause responses.”
  7. Ebooks offer a wealth of potential when it comes to the inclusion of models, simulations and visualisations that you simply couldn’t bring to life in the same way through a textbook.
  8. Gamification has had a massive impact on immersing students into game-like simulations that help transform the speed at which they learn new concepts.  A traditional classroom environment doesn’t necessarily allow the more creative students to bring their innovative thinking to the fore whereas gamification allows creativity and innovation to shine.

 

As parents, we’re naturally concerned about our kids and want them to have the best possible education.  With technology clearly having such a positive impact on the way that our kids are now taught in school, it makes sense that we’d consider ways to use technology at home to help support their learning.  There is catch of course as we want to ensure that whatever we’re doing at home is in no way impeding on what they’re doing at school.  And if that’s not bad enough, the amount of information and resources available online is scarily huge which makes the task of choosing exactly the right kind of support seem nigh on impossible.  This is where organisations like the Educational App Store (EAS) comes to the fore.  

 

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The EAS is a discovery marketplace for Educational Apps.  Unlike other app stores in the market, the Educational App Store is the only app store that matches educational apps to the curriculum.  The robust certification process is designed to do all the hard work for you.  Only the best educational apps are selected.  Each app then goes through a rigorous certification process which is conducted by practising Teachers who are looking at the app from a features, usability and curriculum perspective.  This saves you time looking for apps that suit your child’s age, academic subject and stage of learning and you can be reassured that the apps listed in the EAS are perfectly suited to your child’s particular needs – reviewed and confirmed by active Educators.  There are also additional resources included such as an app description and a guide on how best to use the app at home.  Over and above the subject specific apps, there are also sensory apps, as well as apps to help with exams.  It really is a one-stop-shop for educational apps, something that simplifies what would be a mind-boggling experience so that as a Parent you feel confident that you’re helping and not hindering your child’s learning.  

If you’re wondering about whether you should be so involved in your child’s education, there are loads of studies that support the active involvement of parents in their child’s education at home.  It creates a sense of continuity and support for your child, both at home and at school.  The Department for Education released a report in 2010 where the single most important finding was that parental engagement has a large and positive impact on children’s learning.  In fact, they cited an authoritative review of the evidence by Desforges (2003) where it found that,

Parental involvement in the form of ‘at-home good parenting’ has a significant positive effect on children’s achievement and adjustment even after all other factors shaping attainment have been taken out of the equation.  In the primary age range the impact caused by different levels of parental involvement is much bigger than differences associated with variations in the quality of schools.  The scale of the impact is evident across all social classes and all ethnic groups.”  

You can read the entire Department for Education report here

The Parent App Library is a carefully curated list of the best educational apps for Primary children aged 5-11.  There is no other app store in the market that matches educational apps to the curriculum.  And the difference doesn’t end there.  The Educational App Store certifies all its apps through relationships with practising Teachers to make absolutely sure that these are the right apps to be using to support your child’s education at home.  Plus you get additional resources to help save you time and ensure that you’re using the app in the best possible way.  It takes all that worry away and presents you with a simple, effective way to support your children’s learning at home using Technology that engages all the right senses.

You can learn more about how the Parent App Library has helped parents in this short video: 

And if you’re interested in learning more about a trial promotion, you can visit the EAS website here

Written by Alana McVey on behalf of the Educational App Store

You can access the Mashable.com article referenced earlier here

 

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