Kids are precocious and know their way around the app jungle. I guess kids will be kids and they will prefer killing zombies rather than downloading a math app to study the Binomial Theorem. App developers have realized it’s the fun element that’s making edutainment such a big deal today. It is.
Edutainment is a multi-billion dollar industry. But how do you as a parent judge if the educational app you downloaded is the right one? Apple and Google both are dedicated to education. Apple took a lead with the many K-12 educational apps in its kitty. Google Play for Education will launch this fall though it already has an education category. The Amazon App Store has its own as well. These are large collections with a set of filters to make your search for the right app easier. It still doesn’t make selecting a high-quality app any easier. Take a look at this screenshot from the Education category on iTunes app store:
It is organized but it’s impossible to tell without drilling down if a particular app is right for a particular child or not. So, it’s time to bring the specialists into play even as your kids prepare to head back to school.
Unlike app stores which take user reviews and ratings as a scale to measure the quality and child-friendliness of an app, KinderTown relies on hands on expert advice from educators. KinderTown’s focus is on educational apps for kids’ ages 3-8 years old. The site says that each app that is selected to be on the site passes through the impressions of educators, parents, and kids. They are judged on the yardstick of educational value, user-friendliness, engagement value, design, artwork, cost, and shelf life.
You can download the KinderTown app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. KinderTown is a specialized version of the iTunes App Store. The curation of child-friendly apps happens on KinderTown, but you are redirected to iTunes for the actual download. You can also explore the educational app universe through the website. As you can see in the screenshot above, the navigation is simple and understandable in a single glance. You can narrow down to the right app by subject, age, device, and price. You will not have reviews mentioned here, but almost all of the apps I clicked through to the iTunes review had good reviews.
Usually many apps have versions for Android as well. Though it is not mentioned on the app finder site, you can try searching for it on Google Play Store. KinderTown has recently become part of Demme Learning and its suite of learning products.
appoLearning is an edu-focused app discovery website that’s part of the larger Appolicious portal. appoLearning curates apps on the recommendations from a panel of teachers, parents, and experts. Every app is rated against educational content, kid appeal, assessment, features and design, value, and safety and privacy; a proprietary appoLearning Rubric. Four age groups are covered — Early Learning, Elementary School, Middle School, and High School. The four age groups are arranged within tabs and you can browse through the subject categories under them. Taking in all the ranking factors under the proprietary scale, apps are ranked against 100 points. The reviews are complete – you get to see why an app has a specific rating on its report card; and all the good or bad about the app with brief reviews.
You can also read the suggestions and advice that’s given around educational and apps on the site. appoLearning does not have an app of its own at this point.
For: iOS, Android
YogiPlay brings personalized app recommendations to parents for children aged 3-8. The recommendations take into account specific educational needs of children. The service was started by a husband-wife team (both Stanford educated) and parents themselves. A unique feature of the service is the YogiMeter which scores each app on its educational value and engagement. YogiPlay also has what it calls “boosted apps”. Boosted apps are specially selected apps that also allow parents to monitor their child’s usage and track which apps are their favorites. Parents have more hands-on control over their child’s education and can monitor their progress through all the fun, games, and learning. YogiPlay also has elements of gamification to make children more actively engaged with learning.
You can find the best apps for your children with the help of 2 more websites. Check them out.
For: Raspberry Pi
I am slightly veering away here to this unique app store. We have talked a lot about Raspberry Pi, and however much we talk about hacks like Raspberry Pi home theater systems, one of the primary reasons for getting a Raspberry Pi is its educational value. The intention behind this mini-computer was to motivate kids how to code. Now, Raspberry Pi has its own store. Developers can sell their wares her, and it is also a source for many educational games. The potential for teaching (and learning) computing at school is far-reaching, and if your child has even a slight inclination towards programming…point him here.
Correct me if I am wrong, but searching for educational apps unlike others is not only about finding a good app but it is also about finding the right app because it needs more context. For instance: You don’t only need to find an app to learn history. You need one for the 8th Grade which can give the child the right readability level for him to understand the lessons. The contextual nature of searching makes app discovery for kids a more challenging job. Today, you can get an education for free (or cheaply) using just your tablet or smartphone. The only requisite: go to the right sources and have the right apps installed.
Do you actively search for the right educational apps for your children? Do you take the help of simple ratings or comments, or do you cross-check with any other source? Do give us your opinion and suggestions.
Image Credit: MMcQuade