THE BLOG
07/24/2014 12:21 pm ET Updated Sep 23, 2014

From Babysitter to Teacher: Setup Your Kids' Tablets for Creative Learning

Educators around the world are embracing mobile learning in what is considered a relentless and inevitable march towards the 'flipped' classroom. The average family today owns at least a handful of mobile devices, which invariably end up serving as modern-day babysitters, among other duties. Is there something we can learn from teachers to turn such free-form playtime into opportunities for learning?

  • Consumption: Playing with apps is one thing, but it is increasingly clear to educators that making the incredible wealth of information on the web accessible (while making it age-appropriate, of course) is a vital cog in the mobile learning experience.
  • Curation: An app like Notability allows kids to save their own articles, annotate them, highlight passages, add a picture, drawing, chart or sticky note, integrate a website or media, and add their own voice, effectively transcending what can be done on pen and paper.
  • Creativity: Check out apps like Explain Everything, Book Creator, Animoto, iMovie, Garage Band, VoiceThread, Doodlecast, etc. Such apps put your kids at the center of the content creation process, which makes for a far more powerful learning experience than just consuming content.
  • Connection: One of the primary motivations for kids to engage in creative activities is to share the product of their efforts. With family, friends, and peers. Create an environment that is conducive for creative collaboration, a virtual play network perhaps, and you'll see how it enriches the creator and the consumer.

Next time you consign the family tablet to its babysitting duties, think like a teacher. Have an underlying plan in place. As HarvardX Research Fellow Justin Reich puts it, don't "think of iPads as repositories of apps, but rather as portable media creation devices."