One of the children’s app trends we’ve seen in 2013 and 2014 is the idea of parents being able to monitor how their kids are using educational apps: “dashboards” to track their progress and understand how they’re learning.
The latest example comes from Kidaptive, the developer behind the Leo’s Pad series of apps. It’s an ambitious and interesting idea called Learner Mosaic, which launched for iPhone this week.
The company is describing it as “a free parenting app that offers personalised tips to nurture your preschooler in smart, playful ways”, created with the help of “a team of experts in the learning sciences, developmental psychology, early-childhood education, and performance-based assessment”.
So, what is it? Well, alone it’s a series of suggestions for how you can help preschool children learn across more than 75 skills, from alphabet and numbers to social-emotional development and critical thinking.
But it also ties in to the Leo’s Pad app, which has been renamed Leo’s Pad Enrichment Program for Preschoolers as part of this launch. That’s a mixture of stories and mini-games, with the latter able to test some of those early-learning skills and then feed the data to the Learner Mosaic app.
In the past, I’ve been a bit sceptical about the idea of parental dashboards, based (as many seem to be) on the premise that you’re not aware of what your children are doing in apps – in my experience, whenever my kids make progress in an app, they want to tell me about it. Right now!
But Learner Mosaic has made me rethink my scepticism a bit: the idea of a dashboard is more interesting and useful if it’s helping you interpret what your children are doing: not just saying “they reached a new level” but explaining which skills that’s been practising, and how you can support them further.
Anyway, that’s the theory: let’s see how it works in practice, but Learner Mosaic and the rebranded Leo’s Pad are an intriguing step on in blending education and entertainment for children, while helping parents understand how they’re learning through it.
Learner Mosaic is a free download for iPhone from Apple’s App Store, while Leo’s Pad Enrichment Program for Preschoolers is also a free download, but for iPad only – with in-app purchases used to buy individual chapters: £3.99 each, or £17.49 for the lot.