3 Ways to Maximize Kids' Learning with Technology

Technology can help kids learn -- if you know what to look for and how to use it.
Shira Lee Katz Senior Director, Education Content | Tech and learning enthusiast Categories: Learning with Technology
Senior Director, Education Content | Tech and learning enthusiast

From apps like Scribblenauts Remix that build vocabulary to video games like Portal 2 that require inventive problem solving, lots of popular media titles have learning potential.

But how can you tell which ones are good?

In some cases, games that claim to be educational hit the mark. But some of them can fall flat because they lack style or are too heavy-handed.

Here are three "Cs" to keep in mind as you seek out, size up, and make the most of apps, games, and websites for learning.

Connection. It's really important that kids connect on a personal level to what they're playing. Are they engaged? Engrossed? Maybe even enlightened? Think of apps, games, and websites like you might a good book. Getting into the storyline or identifying with the characters primes kids for more learning.

Check out:

Critical thinking. Look for media that takes a deep dive into a topic, subject, or skill. Maybe they're games in which kids wrestle with ethical dilemmas or strategize about bypassing obstacles. Rote quizzing and simple Q&A-style games may be fun and educational on the surface, but they may not help kids find deep or long-lasting meaning.

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Creativity. A great feature of many great learning products is the ability for kids to create new content themselves -- a new level for a video game or a song of their own, for instance. Kids can feel more ownership of their learning when they get to put their own personal spin on the experience.

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And of course it's always important to keep in mind the context in which kids are playing. For younger kids in particular, the discussion and activities they do surrounding games are key. Being with kids while they play, asking questions about what they're taking away, and doing related offline activities can extend learning even further.

Check out the "Explore, Discuss, Enjoy" and "How Parents Can Help" tips that go along with these games:

There's a vast sea of apps, games, and websites out there. Keeping the three "Cs" –- connection, critical thinking, and creativity -– in mind can help you find some of the gems.

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About Shira Lee Katz

As Common Sense Education's senior director of education content, Shira is responsible for the strategic direction and overall quality of content on Common Sense Education's Graphite (www.graphite.org). Graphite is an... Read more

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Comments (2)

Educator and Parent written by Macaroo

I like many of the app suggestion given but I don't think apps alone are the answer. This is because I believe that, while apps can and have now proven to be very useful in education. I have also seen that without some type of anchor for the newly created knowledge or skill, the gains are usually short lived. In my humble opinion, young learners especially, need a mixture of hand-on and technology based programs. I also believe that one of the best uses for technology, has yet to be fully realized and that is in the area of formative assessment. This does not mean that I no longer believe that technology is beneficial for young children, that is simply not so. Technology based learning can and does open the doors to knowledge in ways no other learning tool can. -What better way is there to show children different cultures and locations, other than maybe traveling the world? -Technology enables children to practice an experiment over and over in app such as GazziliScience And much more.... Since creating my blog more than five and half years ago, I have seen 1st hand the huge effect quality research-based technology programs have on a child's educational outcome. Problem is, I have also seen the harmful effects of technology programs, which are not based on solid research and have been developed more as a recruitment or sale pitch for schools, have on children and young adults. More over the impact these empty, self-serving technology initiatives will have the future of digital citizenship remains to be seen. Most recently, my views have begun in earnest to combine those strategies which are founded in purposeful play and based on Vygotsky's social learning theories with the nuggets I have gleaned from my experience creating and managing technology programs. I believe this has led me to where I am now and why I have come to understand remarkable possibilities of combining "purposeful play" or guided play with an a carefully woven and correlated technology program has in improving the educational outcomes of our nation's children.
Adult written by SandraKraska

Thanks and this a good example of the combination of technology and creative education https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=coloring.ABC.eng.free

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