Using Tablets and Apps to Enhance Learning

kids with appwAs a parent and a personal tutor I am constantly striving to find ways in which to engage children in educational activities.  In the modern world of computer games and constantly changing new technology at our fingertips, using apps and tablets can be an effective way of firing up a child’s enthusiasm for learning.

Apps with vibrant graphics and game style formats enable children to practice and learn new skills in a fun and interactive way, this can be particularly useful for reluctant or apprehensive learners. The reward systems and progressive nature of many apps mean that children are instantly rewarded for their effort and receive consistent positive reinforcement.

My own daughter constantly panics about getting answers wrong and having to correct mistakes which can hinder progress.  In using educational apps she has been able to participate in learning activities independently, without observers and when she does make errors they are not dwelt upon and she is simply invited to retry or move on without embarrassment.  She remains enthusiastic to share her successes and I can check on her difficulties or areas for development through discrete observations or using the tracking systems found in many apps.

As a tutor I have oftenbeen faced with the challenge of developing the writing skills of children who are reluctant to put pen to paper or feel overwhelmed with the sight of a blank page.

For these children, tablets and word processing style apps can provide an innovative and encouraging method to complete their writing tasks.  Simple tools such as selecting the font, colour and background of the text can make children forget their fear of, or resistance to writing.  On many occasions I have sat down with a student who ‘does not want to write today’ but once given a tablet has completed a successful piece of writing without further protest.  In addition the spell check, editing and audio options on my apps make it easy for children to review and edit their writing which is an essential part of developing their skills.

Increasingly, apps are offering multiplayer options and this is a feature which makes it possible for children to collaborate or challenge each other during learning activities.  Alternatively the tutor or parent themselves can take on the multiplayer role and work alongside or as an opponent to the child.  This offers another dimension to using apps as learning activities and ensures that it does not become a solitary experience.  It provides opportunities for children to practise their collaborative skills or by making activity competitive, it increases their desire to succeed.

Overall apps and tablets are not a replacement for traditional pen and paper methods of learning but an exciting and interactive way of developing skills and knowledge, whether you are a parent trying to enhance your own child’s progressor a tutor working on a student’s particular needs.

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