Aristotle said that “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet“. Educational apps are unique because they are able to make the roots less bitter and the fruits sweeter. As mentioned in Learning how to review educational apps – Part 1 there are some fundamental elements concerning the user interface and the didactic of an educational app that a teacher should take into consideration. So after a lot of research and based on our experience with parents and children we are ready to present you these elements. Let’s start!
In modern education there are no false actions by a student, there are only new discovery paths! So, that’s the first element a teacher should check. Is the app designed in a constructive way? Does the kid learn by experimenting and discovering? Advanced educational apps have developed the capacity of response and feedback to user reactions. Teachers should consider if this response and feedback are designed and presented in a constructive way that helps kids extract knowledge on their own.
However, if this new discovery path that the kid has taken is leading to a dead end, then the presented message:
- should be provided in a plain language (or with an interactive object),
- with focus on the problem and finally,
- propose a solution.
Now, how an app avoids dead ends? Well, there are two ways if you ask us:
- By checking that the flow of information during playing is controllable and adjustable
- By maintaining consistency and continuity in the presentation of information. This means that the same action should be performed in the same way in every part of the interface.
In general, an educational app must use simple and natural dialogues in an understandable language which is familiar to users without using incomprehensible terminology. The challenge here for the app is not to over-simplify fundamental concepts and give less information than it actually should.
Really important is that the presentation of information should be done in a manner appropriate to the age of the kid (or else, the learner). For instance, less text and more icons or interactive objects should be used for children at the age of 4 to 6 years old.
But did I forget the basics? Teachers must check whether the app is appropriate for the target group and if it fulfills the learning objectives for which it is designed. Usually good educational apps, have good and thorough description, so someone can find all this information there. In other words, do read the app’s description before you download it.
Also one of the basics is the existence of help when needed. This help can either be a help button, hints or even a “hand” for instance that appears and shows what the next move should be.
Recognition rather than recall
Nielsen points out that recognition is better than recall so every action must be as clear as possible, without having the user to remember complicated actions.
Last but not least is the motivation. To accomplish the duration of the use, the apps should provide incentives for use that don’t reduce the user’s interest over time. For this reason, it must have a wide variety of levels and must constantly offer new items and gamification elements such as badges.
I know, it seems so difficult find them all in one app, but then again, nothing can be compared with your experience in the classroom, so you are the ones who know where to focus from all the above according to your needs. There are plenty of apps that can help you be more creative, modern and efficient. All you have to do is teach yourselves to find them.
Article written by: Ioanna Kanellopoulou, co-founder and the Head of R&D and Marketing at http://37toystreet.com/