Sunday, March 25, 2012

Learn To Read is on Amazon Appstore

Learn To Read is now available for Kindle Fire and all other android devices through the Amazon Appstore.  Learn To Read Lite is still going through the approval process, but should be live within a week.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Best Use of Computers in Education

I am a believer in hands on, social, experiential, interest led, play-based learning.  I came across this article a couple years ago and thought it was an amazing demonstration of these basic concepts.  The key aspects being the children are in a group, working together, they are led by their own interests, with minimal adult guidance, and are using trial and error to figure stuff out.

One of the biggest hurdles in using technology is that the majority of the time a person is using the computer or device by themselves.  Piaget and Vygotsky were both psychologists that spent a lot of time studying and forming theories on childhood development.  Piaget's emphasis was on action and experimentation while Vygotsky said that understanding and knowledge originated from social interactions.  The astounding results described in this article can be explained by the fact that both sensory and social interaction were blended.   Groups of children worked together to figure out hard problems.  They were able to discuss what they were doing and build off each other's experience to gain greater understanding and games were able to give the children sensory feedback that they could use to test their understanding.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why the Corvid?

I like crows.  I kind of have a personal mission to redeem the reputation of the crow and raven.  I'm not exactly sure when I started liking crows, but after reading Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness and Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys I became a fan.

Fun crow facts:

  • Crows can recognize human faces, not only that, but a crow can point a human out to their friends.
  • They are a native species worldwide, that have thrived along with humans.  Most species that thrive in human areas are invasive, and much of their ability to thrive is because they have no natural predators. 
  • They can speak human languages.  Ravens and sometimes crows can mimic human speech.  The raven at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, WA said, "Hello there," to me and my family.  In the book The Curve of Time, Blanchet tells a story she heard about how the Native Americans would talk with the ravens, and how a raven brought news to them that one of their people had died.
  • One particular story I enjoyed, was in one of the books above, (I think Encounters with the Wise Guys) about some researches observing a crow competing for a mate against his son.  There was no fighting, but she chose his son.  The father crow flew to the neighboring territory and "married" the crow there who had just become widowed.  He essentially adopted her chicks and helped her raise them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Android vs iOS

The first app I am releasing will be for Android.   It is somewhat embarrassing, but I do not own a smart phone.  My cell is almost an antique and it is rarely charged or in my purse.   Thus I haven’t been very familiar with mobile apps.  My husband got an iTouch for Christmas a few years ago, but it was his, and I didn't use it much.

However a couple Christmas’s ago I got a Nook  Color.  I had been using all my willpower to resist buying an e-reader.  I got most of my books at the library and did not need an e-reader.  But every time I would open Amazon they would be harassing me—Kindle, Kindle, Kindle.  What I really wanted was a mobile device that I could read books on, but also have access to the internet so I could read blogs and message boards.  Then Apple came out with the iPad and I was going to ask for that for Christmas, but I was bummed about the large price tag.  Then Barnes and Noble came out with the Nook Color and I figured that would be perfect.  I could read books, check e-books out from the library and read the internet.   (Too bad Amazon didn’t come out with the Fire a year earlier.)  When I got it, the first thing I did was root it, and the next obvious step was writing an app for it.

Android is more accessible for me.   I do not own a Mac and thus I cannot develop for iOS.  If I had had any forethought when I replaced my PC a few months ago I would have got a Mac and dual booted it with Windows, but honestly the thought never occurred to me.   My hope is that I can make some money with Android apps to justify investing in a Mac for iOS development. 

As for market comparison, my impression is that the apps available on iOS are of overall better quality, and it is easier to convince iOS customer’s to pay for apps.  I am hoping that a good app should stand out more on Android.  Ad revenue seems to be the method of earnings on Android, but I will be writing apps for kids and do not feel ads are appropriate in those instances.  I am hoping the paid app model will work out for me, especially with the launch of the Kindle Fire, but I have an ad revenue idea as well.  We’ll see if it pans out. 

I think iOS is where the edutainment market is at.  It seems that many schools are purchasing iPads.  I have a couple edutainment app ideas targeted towards older kids that I think would do much better in the iOS market, but I’ll tackle that later.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Learn To Read Mobile App

Learn To Read is an interactive early reader ebook for kids.  The idea for this app came from the frustration that most beginning reader books have very small type.  It is hard for children to focus on the words and move their fingers along the letters, while they sound it out.  Flash cards solve the size problem, but are boring because there is no content.

New Features

  • New animation when the correct word is tapped
  • You can now choose between two fonts.  The original print based font, or a font called OpenDyslexia that some people with dyslexia find easier to read.

Other App Features

  • Alliterative and rhyming verse to promote phonemic awareness. 
  • The child is asked to find the target word on a screen of words that sound and are spelled similarly.  This puzzle encourages the child to look for patterns in the words to find the correct answer.
  • Uses a simple print based font where the letters look like the letters they are taught to write.
  • There are sixteen target words for a total of 64 pages.
  • There is a "read-to-me" option where the child can click the button to have the app read them the text.
For Teachers
Learn To Read helps achieve the following Common Core Standards

RF.K.2. Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
- Recognize and produce rhyming words.
- Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.
RF.K.3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
- Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ

This app is available on Google Play, the Amazon App Store, and Nook Apps, AppsLib, and Fuhu (Nabi).

Click here to see more posts about learning how to read.