The app invasion sweeping education is real and the benefits for student learning are staggering. However, there are several myths that need to be dispelled about apps in education. If we continue to let these myths be thought of as fact then we will not only waste an opportunity for educational change but we will stall the technological future of our students.
I would rather my child use education apps than play video games.
At first, this statement appears rather sound. But after thinking about it, what's wrong with a good video game? A good educational app should feel like a video game. Video games are actually OK for our children to play and can have a positive educational component. I agree that there are a lot of video games out there that are not worth our children's time, but if we make sound choices, there are a host of great games that can and do teach. For example, there is a bridge building game that teaches about engineering. The game "Words with Friends" is excellent for vocabulary development. The game" 2058" is a great game to explain multiplication. There are a lot of great video games that are teaching our children while they are having fun. The term we use is Gamification and it is a great way to motivate kids to learn.
Using apps on a tablet will help my child become a 21st century learner.
This is a great statement in theory. Students need to be using the latest technology because it is only getting more advanced by the day. The problem is not with children using apps on a tablet, but how they are used. If you put your child on a tablet for 30-40 minutes a day and walk away, your child is not going to be 21st century ready. What you did was buy a tablet to get free babysitting service, not to prepare your child for 21st century education. The hardware for technology is only a piece of the puzzle. What your children are playing and how you are integrating what they are learning into their lives is how you create a child ready for the 21st century. To support your children educationally, have them create a stop motion film. Set them up with a safe collaboration site where they can talk with students from a different country. Have them create a 3D figure and send it away to be printed on a 3D printer. Those are the experiences students need to accomplish on a tablet.
Practicing spelling words and vocabulary are face-to-face functions that parents still should be doing with their children. Check what your child is doing on the tablet or computer. The apps your child is using should benefit them in a variety of ways: providing motivation, encouraging problem solving, using critical and creative thinking. Use the technology to broaden the child's mind, to give them experiences that you cannot reproduce in your home or back yard. When you can watch your child create something, build something, collaborate on something or explain something that could never have been done without the technology you provided, that is when you will know that you are raising a 21st century child.
A rule of thumb to follow when introducing children to a variety of technologies is:
Technology should be used to give students an experience or insight that they would otherwise not be able to accomplish without the use of technology.