Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Apps VS. Online Games???

I've been asked several times recently what I thought about eduapps vs. online edugames and which ones I think are best....well....here's what I think:

First let me start with apps.  We have LOTS of IDevices so we have apps...oh boy do we have apps.  But the thing I see over and over with apps is that they have some crappy game you're suppose to learn from and then **** you finally get to play a game the kids like*** ....and they may never get off that game again because there is no time limit or anything for the reward game.  So my point is...what's the point??  My kids are only doing the cruddy game because they "have" to and I think that's sad.  That's really most of the problems I see with educational apps....boring...and only fun if you get to the reward game.  Why not just play a board game and have fun instead??? or play a chess app?  or tangrams app?? or...    well you get the idea.  Kids will learn in spite of us if we just let them play what interests them instead of manipulating them with what we think they "should" learn.  Those board and app games I just mentioned include logic, geometry, math and that's just the start since I don't know what board games or apps you personally have.  The other problem that I have with math and math apps in general is that it takes math totally out of the context of why we use it.  Math is ALL around us...you can't escape it so why do we have to bog kids down with math that is OUT of context (apps, worksheets etc).  If you want to learn measuring then bust out the tape measure with the kids and build something.  Or measure everything.  Now you may say "hey,  I did that and he didn't remember", well that may be because he/she wasn't really interested or they weren't ready for the amount of information they were receiving.  They got what they needed...not what you wanted.  Next time you build or bust out the tape they may get more or you may have to wait again. 

Another problem I have with apps on IDevices is that most kids use their finger for writing.  I wonder how this will affect a young child in their ability to write when they've been using their finger for everything.

As far as apps for little kids like toddlers...I think that as long as you don't view it as educational as in "here learn your ABC's" it's probably okay.  The problem I have with it is when it's just used to babysit the kid....kinda how TV has gotten.  Mommy needs a little time so pop on the TV or computer.  We should be living our life with the kids not trying to escape them.  Now don't get me wrong...there are days when the wheels are falling off and I've discussed that in other posts so when that happens just STOP and either make brownies (mmm...chocolate) or stream a video (or listen to a book on tape) and watch/listen together...not try to escape them.  They need you and that's probably why they are going nutz, so stop, regroup and enjoy time together relaxing and cuddling.

  The other problem I have with toddlers and apps is that it's up close eye strain on little eyes that haven't developed.  Dr Raymond Moore discussed this years ago.   His study was with indigenous people and how they don't exhibit near sightedness until they adopt the western standard of early reading and boom....the kids start needing glasses.  So up close stuff needs to be kept at bay...for a LONG time.  

So what apps do "I" think would work ....the ones your kids like.  Sounds like I'm being evasive but I'm not.  Only your kids will know what interests them and what doesn't so...you can download a couple and see how it goes by letting them play and asking them.  

Now for online edugames.... I think these are a LOT more fun for kids since the games actually have to be fun in the first place to be played.  For sites like Sheppard Software I just let my kids pick what they want to play or I strew a couple and if they play great!...and if not....so be it.    Sometimes I just play myself and they'll come and join because they hear the "electronic" sound and come to investigate.  Kids are so naturally curious it's a travesty that we ruin it by telling them what to be curious about and telling them how to learn it!

So math seems to be the biggie in game/app learning and a great place to find math stuff for the younger crowd is over at Easy Peasy Homeschool.   Math Playground has got some cool games for older children and then another favorite is ABCya & Mathchimp.  I do recommend that if you go the online edugame route that you use an ad blocker and we use AdBlock Plus.

I've recently discovered Zondle where you can make a school for yourself and then make yourself the teacher and whala!!  You can enter info and then the kids get to pick what games they want to play using that info.  Yesterday alone my kids played for 2 hours and they were learning their times tables.   I played some of the games with them and they were FUN!!  They loved it so much that they are asking to play first thing this morning!   The really nice part is the info is just part of the game not something they have to trudge through to get to the fun stuff.

When Discussing online stuff we've got to talk about safety.  I've now seen 3 posts in 2 days about kids viewing inappropriate stuff for MONTHS without the parents knowing.  So I think it's an important point  that I can "see" what they're doing vs. apps which can be on their laps where I can't view what's going on and they can switch to viewing stuff they're not suppose to....even with parental controls & spyware type stuff.  Again it's about being connected to your kid not just leaving them alone all day with the computer.  Once you've built trust and they understand and have maturity to handle making good decisions...maybe it's time to free up but not until you know for sure.   :)  It's also important to let them know that there is ugly, horrible stuff on the web and how to protect themselves but that conversation needs to be age appropriate of course not something that arouses their curiosity....cause you know the old sayin'...curiousity killed the cat.  Anytime you tell a kid no and then give them no reason or a bad reason it's going to cause problems and usually the kind that is behind your back.  Think about how it would feel if you wanted to go grocery shopping and your husband said no and then gave you no reason...ya...that's what it feels like to be a kid.

Now let's do some REAL math (as in why you do math in the first place!) Lets say were talking about something like liquid measurement since we're baking and I let them measure things and then search an online game for measurement like this one.  See...math done in context to what it's for (no more why am I learning this questions).  You've made something yummy AND you had fun!

My biggest point is that eduapps and edugames are just part of our fun arsenal of learning that we do during the day and not just "you need to play this so you can learn".  It's like TV or books...it's just part of the fun and not one thing is better than another to discover stuff.

Now go play some games with the kids and have FUN!!

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