Educators the world over are contemplating the tools and academic environments required to develop 21st century skills needed by students to succeed in modern-day school, work, and in life. Mobile devices, such as the Apple iPad, have emerged as required scholastic gear, allowing students to interact with educational apps, watch educational videos, listen to audio recordings, read textbooks and course materials, and conduct research online. In fact, the use of such technology is now so pervasive, if your child is not supplementing their education with a connected digital device, they are simply falling behind.
For younger children learning the basics, from reading and writing to colors and shapes, the iPad has also been transformative. Unlike the books of old, the iPad provides immediate feedback and engaging learning scenarios to young eager minds. Apple has consistently maintained a commitment to education, designing each Mac to provide students with multiple ways to access content for learning. With the iPad, the classroom is always at their fingertips. Right now at the App Store, there are more than 20,000 educational apps for all kinds of learners, teaching them everything from science to sign language. Students can track their assignments, take notes, and study for finals. Teachers can give lessons, monitor progress, and stay organized.
No Coincidence: Consider Apple’s Ads, Partnerships, and Marketing
Anyone who has recently seen an iPad commercial can attest to one thing: It’s almost always sold as a device used by smart people, for smart things, in a smart settings. Advertisements feature the iPad being used in college classrooms, research laboratories, and with younger children learning a wide range of skills. That has given parents the rather accurate impression that the iPad should be used as a learning tool. It’s an impression that is perhaps enhanced by the iPad’s prevalence in college classrooms and in public schools, where it is replacing textbooks.
In some ways, parents purchase an iPad for their young child as a way of preparing them for the future, teaching essential skills that might seem like “just” colors and shapes, but that actually extend well beyond those things and into the realm of problem-solving. After all, the iPad’s rather simple user interface and operation practically invite younger learners to see what happens if they swipe up with one finger, or swipe left with two fingers, or tape one of the device’s bright icons.
The App Store: A Crucial Component for the iPad in Educational Settings
When it comes to teaching young children a wide variety of skills, there is perhaps nothing better suited to the task than Apple’s large iTunes App Store. Since its inception n 2008, the App Store has grown to include millions of apps, serving billions of downloads, and easily outpacing the competing Google Play store for Android devices. The sheer number of applications means that there’s a perfect series of apps for young toddlers, those in-preschool, and kids who are attending their first years of elementary school.
Among this fast-growing group of applications targeted to young learners, a few key options stand out from the crowd and really help advance a number of skills. Each of these applications exemplifies a different sub-category within the app store, delivering critical skills to young learners that will stick with them as they advance through elementary school and beyond.
1. The Dora the Explorer Series
One of the best ways to teach kids a large number of skills is to use a familiar cartoon character to do the heavy lifting. The series of apps centered on Dora the Explorer’s adventures exemplifies this perspective, pairing one of Nickelodeon’s most popular educational TV shows with a series of apps designed to enhance the shows and hammer home some critical skills.
The “Dora the Explorer Coloring Adventures!” application allows kids to digitally color in pictures just as they would on paper using crayons. Along the way, each object covered is pronounced in English and Spanish, hammering home key language skills that will come into play in traditional classroom settings. The “Where is Boots?” application is a hide-and-seek adventure that enhances language skills further, while “Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom” combines the character’s trademark bilingual approach with learning numbers, counting, and problem solving.
One of the key skills to equip young learners with is creative problem solving, allowing them to guide their own adventures and create their own learning experiences. That’s exactly what Red Fish 4 Kids, an iPad puzzle application, is designed to promote. The app comes with a number of puzzles and problem solving activities, each of them with large, touchable tiles that will resonate with young learners. An instructional voiceover helps guide the entire experience, producing lasting learning experiences.
Alongside counting, problem solving, and bilingual language skills, kids need to have a strong reading foundation as they grow and learn. That’s what the Toy Story Read Along application is designed to promote. With a few great stories, each involving interactive experiences with the movie’s characters, kids will love this method of boosting their literacy and getting ahead of their peers.
A Device that Grows With Kids as They Learn and Age
Learning experiences might abound for young learners on the iPad, but the device is not limited to teaching things like basic literacy, problem solving, counting, and more. At a media event in 2012, Apple announced an extensive partnership with many of the companies that produce today’s most popular textbooks at the primary and secondary levels. The partnership will allow for the use of an iPad in lieu of those textbooks in classrooms that opt to purchase the device at a bulk rate.
In many colleges around the country, an iPad is being issued upon acceptance. The device is then paired with lecture podcasts, video lectures, Keynote presentation tools, and interactive classroom learning tools that would not have been possible just a few years ago. It proves that those kids who get an early start with iPad learning experiences will be able to learn and grow, with enhanced educational tools, for the better part of their career in primary, secondary, and post-secondary environments.
The Best Way to Encourage Tech Literacy and Education
The iPad represents the most intuitive way to teach kids how today’s tech works, while encouraging things like problem solving, reading, counting, and speaking in at least one language beyond English. It is in this way, that the iPad is transforming how kids learn basic skills and prepare themselves for a successful career in kindergarten and beyond.