I really liked the idea of a homemade light table; it’s inexpensive but effective to young children exploration. Understanding how to model media mentor for children is key to help eliminate cyber bullying etc. The awareness of how young children view the world of technology was very enlightening for me.
Some other things I found interesting are:
Start with what you know about each child and the learning setting and ask, “How can this particular app, or digital tool influence the learning outcome?” In the early stages of any technology implementation, a lot of observing and tweaking is required. An app that gets a high rating from an adult might get today’s equivalent of the hook (the iPad’s HOME button) from a child, while another app that you overlooked might become a child’s favorite. There are no exact guidelines that can be applied without first understanding the child, the app and the setting.
I learned there are some general questions to ask when looking for quality apps:
Can you individualize the experience for a specific child?
Can the child control the sound or background music?
Are there multiple language options?
Can more than one child play at once? (Especially a consideration for teachers)
What does it cost? You can get a lot of value for one or two dollars in the app store these days, if you know what you’re looking for. If you find something you don’t quite like, keep looking. It’s likely that you can find a better app at the same price.
Are there multiple levels, so there is always a challenge?
I learned when looking for e-books consider if there are different types of menu options such as “read to me”, “read and play”, “read by myself” which will offer flexibility for different ages and reading levels. Print tracking is another option that is excellent for emergent or beginning readers to draw attention to the words as they are being read. Check to see that any interactive elements relate to the story line and aren’t arbitrary, such that they draw attention away from the story or cause confusion. An option to record narration of the story can also be great for supporting children’s creativity.