Technology aided Sensory LEARNING IN KIDS

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Preschools nowadays are increasingly focusing on mobile applications as learning tools. The popularity of smart phones apps is on the rise among the new generation. Akash Tomer of Elets News Network (ENN) explores usages and key reasons behind the popularity of apps among children, parents and and preschools.

According to a recent survey conducted in Britain, interactive educational apps are immensely popular among kids aged between 3 and 6 years. Parents as well as elementary teachers are encouraging children to start using mobile learning apps. In the last few years, the internet is flooded with such learning applications to complement classroom lessons in pre- schools. The availability of such apps has gone up tremendously over the last few years, with the Apple iTunes store alone having more than 65,200 educational apps. So, why is mobile learning being taken up in such a big way? Let’s take a look.

Systematic learning
Be it a mobile storytelling app for kids or a subject-specific learning app, all educational applications help kids in systematic learning. These learning applications have built-in databases to store the education or teaching based stories and completed assignments that can be saved for later re- views. Soft or digital copies of these texts and references can be accessed later. With traditional studying methods, a toddler on his/her own can become a bit haphazard but mobile apps for learning or study minimises that risk.

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Staying connected with teachers and guides
There is no substitute for classroom teaching, but educational apps ensure better connectivity between kids and teachers. Today, a student can easily get in touch with the teacher via SMS, emails, chats, calls and video calls to resolve his or her queries and doubts instantaneously. Most of the learning apps are embedded with such facilities to make the tasks easy for kids.
“The idea behind developing the (MT Educare) app was to make available quality education, i.e., quality teachers and content to each child of this country, no matter where the child resides. Also en- able users to learn at their own pace and comfort,” said Dr Chhaya Shastri, Direc- tor, MT Educare.

Round-the-clock availability
One of the best features of education apps is their round-the-clock availability. Unlike schools, there is no fixed time schedule for kids to access a mobile application. All that is required is a smart phone or computer tablet, and with a tap on the screen little ones can operate them as most of the mobile applications come with child-friendly controls.

Fun and informal
Complaints of kids about ‘tough’ homework and ‘boring’ class lectures may disappear as soon as a child is acquainted with learning mobile applications. These apps present concepts with colourful graphics and imaginative illustrations to take away the boredom. As there is no teacher around, the entire virtual class- room learning environment is relaxed and informal. Learning with fun is one of the reasons why children use mobile learning applications for hours at a stretch.

One of the best features of education apps is their round-the-clock availability. Unlike schools, there is no fixed time schedule for kids to access a mobile application. All that is required is a smart phone or computer tablet.

Going on a vacation and worrying about their kids’ studies trouble some parents a lot. Learning apps have made such parents’ lives easier. Now, they don’t need to carry loads of books with them. A smart phone or tablet is all they need. Kids can use these electronic gadgets during long train or flight journeys to learn. Students need not to stay away from learning re- sources at any time.

Help in classroom performance
Mobile applications help little learners prepare their routine tests and daily assignments in a better way. These apps help kids visualise important concepts for precise implementation during tests and assignments. Moreover, apps of schools help children access the curriculum in advance and if a child knows what is going to be taught the next day, he or she can easily look it up on any good mobile application. Preparation in advance helps kids build self-confidence in class.

Alternative modes of learning
There is wide range of applications available to choose from depending on kids’ needs. There are text-based learning applications, subject specific learning applications, applications for test or assessments, applications to help in homework, etc. These applications have animated graphics, videos, info-graphics, audio- narration features, and a whole lot more that enable children to have ample scope of learning. Mobile learning is always dynamic – one can find numerous solutions for a single problem.

Explaining the importance of content in apps, Gaurav Mundra, CEO, Myly app, said, “We are content agnostic. We are the enablers for sharing any kind of content on the platform – text, images, audio and video. We allow bi-directional multimedia communication so that learning doesn’t become a monologue from the teachers’ side.”

Although most of the preschools use apps as a tool to help in the learning and development of a child, they do not completely rely on technology for the holistic development of a child. They focus more on “Learning through Senses” or on “Sensory Learning”.

The process of sensory learning starts even before the birth. Babies learn everything about the world by observing, listening, and putting everything within reach into their mouths. In order to know about any object, toddlers try to touch or grab everything they see. The same concept is being used by many preschools to make a kid understand about objects like fruits, flowers, plants, toys, etc.

Technology can aid sensory learning. Creative videos, audios on tablets or smart phone applications help kids understand their surroundings.

All mobile application developers claim to have built the best mobile apps for kids, but are these apps have appropriate parental control features? It should also be looked into that the apps satisfy the parents about the content their children are accessing.

“Giving kids access to educational and fun learning content with parents having control over the viewing time and a comfortable feeling about the safe online space happens through apps like ours. Safe Kids Apps can help you have that control which youtube or other ad-enabled content online cannot,” said Naveen Chintamaneni, Chief Revenue Officer, Bulbul Apps.

In present day world of fiercely competitive education, a complete dependence on classroom teaching is not enough for kids. Mobile applications have proved to be beneficial for kids and give them an edge over their peers. It’s likely that popularity of mobile applications will increase even more over time.

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