Our community of parents,teachers and students look at every app that we have in the store and test them in order to find out what learning outcomes they achieve.
Considers the relevance of the app to national curriculum and the expected learning outcomes of the Key Stage that it says it belongs to.
From a young age we try to make sense of the world. It begins with organising objects around us, of comparing and contrasting, categorising and creating mental images and recognising symbols. This is how we recognise numbers, pictures and words around us. Apps for early years may assess the recognition of colours and animals and use hand-eye coordination to follow moving objects and control fine muscle movements (Fine-Motor Control) of fingers by coordinating physical movements with visual input. Other apps at higher levels will look at whether the child can follow instructions, develop awareness and formal operational thinking. At the higher level it will take into account the use of logic, reasoning, memory skill and problem solving.
Collaboration skills are extremely important in our Digital Age. Everything is social and "shared". The ways that we create are increasingly interdisciplinary which means that we must be able to work with people from a diversity of backgrounds in order to come up with finished products. As a result collaboration skills are increasingly part of teachers' agendas. This consideration takes into account whether the app provides the framework to support group interaction and sharing throughout the learning process.
Communication skills also build on Critical Thinking as it takes into account how best to convey the information once it has been thought out. Apps for early years and primary school promote the development of children's communication and listening skills in order to help them express themselves with their language and social interactions.
Creative skills are important in order to make sense of and digest the world around us. From little kids' scribbles to an adult's abstract painting, the scope for creation, expression and imagination is immense. Creativity tends to be part of subjects such as Music, Creative writing, Art and Drama. However, it is important to consider that creativity is about creating new things, idea generation and delighting in the imaginative process. As a result, many Inventors and Engineers use lateral thinking and creative processes in order to create novel things.
From Early Years to more advanced students, Critical Thinking builds on Cognitive Development skills. It takes into account the ways in which the app develops thinking and analytical skills in order to test whether statements are true, false or fair. It can also be related to early years and young kids' learning by showing them ways in which they develop their own ideas and strategies, engage with people, objects and activities as they explore the world. Critical Thinking forms part of a whole range of subject areas such as Ethics, Maths, English, History, Politics and Science.
Once again, these skills are non-academic and are an extension of Life Skills. Emotional Intelligence is the development of psychosocial and interpersonal skills. It is about having the self-awareness to know one's emotions, values and goals to come to decisions as well as having social skills that manage relationships and take other people's feelings into account. It is also about self-regulation so that children may learn how to manage their emotions learning to take their own emotions into account and manage them accordingly so as to not feel overwhelmed. Motivation also features heavily in this category. This means that we learn to be driven by achievement and satisfaction of completing projects. All these qualities come about time and time again amongst leaders. The apps that we have placed in this category range from Health and Fitness, to Meditation and Alternative Therapies. Any apps that teach you to be more competitive or self-aware and empathetic of others will make our children more well rounded people for the future.
Engagement and Usability
These two factors are very important in order to assess whether the app is able to sustain children's attention for long periods of time and how easy the apps are to use. We also consider whether it is intuitive to understand or whether an adult will have to read a set of instructions in order to guide the child along. The most engaging apps also tend to be entertaining and have a gamification side to it which creates tension and competitiveness amongst the users and spurs them on to learn even more. Even so, there are plenty of straight-forward flash card apps around that are very practical and entice users to learn quickly and efficiently.
These are the skills that help you get by in life on an everyday basis and are non-academic. Beyond the basic skills of numeracy and literacy, we also have Driving Theory apps which are almost a rite of passage for the average 16-18 year old. We also have First Aid apps which help teenagers and young adults to understand what to do in case of an emergency.
Organisational and Productivity Skills
We think that there are many apps out there that can help children to be mindful of how they organise themselves and to think about how productive they are. Teachers often tell their students that a lot of their academic success will depend on how organised and mindful of their time they are. Furthermore, as work and life become more and more demanding, it is important to have the necessary tools that will help children to feel in control of the organisational process in order to promote calm.
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