Photo Credit: Mine all mine!
After scouring the app store for four hours (literally) I was able to identify and download 15 apps that I thought (and hoped) would promote literacy and a love of reading for kids and teens that used the apps.
This was initially a homework assignment for my “Mobile Phones and Learning” class at Columbia, but I found myself wanting to go far beyond the required review of a single app and look at as many as I could find.
The BAD news is that there really aren’t that many apps out there that focus on literacy and reading, especially when you consider the amount focused on math and other subject areas. There are, of course, many apps devoted to teaching kids the basics of phonics and letters, but few apps or games were to be found that helped or encouraged older kids to read and to love reading and find it an enjoyable past time.
The GOOD news is that I *did* find a few apps that I consider to be amazing and would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone with kids or who teaches reading or English.
So…in the coming days and weeks, I will share a review of each of the apps I test out. Hopefully you will be able to benefit from the reviews in a variety of ways, even if it’s just learning what app should be on your ‘must have’ list for your kid’s upcoming birthday.
Stay tuned: the first review will be out tomorrow!
I have to admit, after seeing the reading list this week, I squee’d like a little girl and ran right to the Kurt Squire article (“Open-Ended Video Games: A Model for Developing Learning for the Interactive Age”). I am a recent convert to the idea that gaming can be transformative in the education sphere, but like any good convert, I’ve imbibed more than my fair share of the Kool-Aid.
I’m currently taking another class at TC called “Video Games in Education” that has looked at a lot of Squire’s work (along with Salen, Jim Gee and the other gaming in ed ‘gurus’) and I have to say, I’m convinced. Not *every* iteration or implementation of gaming in education is on the mark, of course. But then, neither is the inclusion of technology in general a panacea or even a boost. I can’t tell you how many Smart Boards sat unused for *years* in my old school because no one knew how to use them and none of the teachers were ever trained in how to make the use of them relevant and new for students.
In this week’s article, Squire points out that “Video games, like any emerging medium, are disruptive, challenging existing social practices, while capturing our dreams and triggering our fears.” I think that is the perfect distillation of people’s opinions on gaming: they recognize them for their potential disruption (which I believe is a GOOD thing where our monolithic education system is concerned) and/but also fear them at the same time. Squire also points out that gaming shows what education COULD be like–full of exploration and discovery and *fun* (gasp! How did THAT get in there?)–if we would only let it happen.
To close, I’ll provide a brief anecdote. I stayed up until 3am on Black Friday to score a Play Station 3 bundle for a song on Amazon. I only made this purchase (the first ‘real’ gaming system I’ve bought since the Nintendo 64 I wore out while playing Zelda) to play one game and only that game: SKYRIM. I have since logged more hours playing Skyrim than I am comfortable admitting when it is finals season, but all that playing *has* given me a look into what education / schooling could be like if we thought outside the box like game creators do on a daily basis. See, Skyrim is all about exploration and NOT following the beaten-path. “Students” could get a few tutorials (lessons) and then go on their way, allowing their interest and understanding to guide their quests (activities, homework, etc.) and come out at the end just as “educated” as someone who followed the main “storyline” (curriculum).
So, in a nut shell: Games have some of the answers and we just need to open our eyes and pick up our swords! …so to speak.