4 Phenomenal Apps - Sandbox Summit
Still calming down after all the cognitive excitement at the MIT Sandbox Summit put on by playscience. What we were most surprised by were several app companies that have been flying under our radar and I don't know how we hadn't heard of them/hadn't seen them anywhere... Can't cover it all, but these teams clearly have top of the line, engaging, purposeful, and of course FUN educational gameplay!
Obviously, we don't want to leave any organization out as they are all stellar in their contributions on the Return On Investment of Play - this is an abbreviated list of WONDERFUL educational app resources.
First up LIPA, really they have how many apps out and have won all kinds of awards and we were unaware that they existed! LIPA, which is the national tree for the Czech Republic has an amazing 17 and counting apps in their repertoire. What we noticed was the just right design elements mixed with engaging content that was visually irresistible and we can't wait to get their apps into the hands of some children. Their phrasing of digital & physical harmony and childhood isn’t a duty it’s a dance, a play, an exploration resonated with what Teachers With Apps is all about. We had many chats with Martin and Jitka from LIPA throughout the summit and can tell you they are rocking and rolling in all the right ways! Love another of their statements that childhood isn’t a duty, it’s an exploration. Can't wait to get to play with all of their apps. Their mission is quite clear. They are using a holistic approach to teaching the whole child and focusing on quality content paired with age-appropriate interactivity.
ViRRY was the second to astonish, the name is a play on words with very and virtual! How had we never seen this app or come across it in our travels? Virry is an amazing app that immediately engages both children and adults, it is chock full of video clips of wild animals and the footage is insanely good. Discover a world of animal adventures with Virry through wild animal live cameras, interactive videos, and countless hours of captivating entertainment and learning. In their presentation at the N.E.R.D. Center, they delved deep into how children automatically bond with animals and that lessons in empathy and perspective taking are easily extracted from their app's format and "in your face" kind of approach. They are spot-on when it comes to social and emotional learning and the importance of starting to expose a child to these qualities at an early age to build a strong foundation. ViRRy also has built-in visual, auditory, and motor, and even haptic sensory experiences.
Speak Agent is a web-based adaptive language teaching app that was represented by CEO Ben Grimley (formerly of Tribal Nova, how did we not know that?) and CTO Katie Cunningham (Phyton Guru & former NASA Developer). Speak Agent helps meet the specific vocabulary needs of English and Spanish language learners. Ben's agenda is enabling educators to quickly adapt interactive language learning for each student - "human-adapted learning, rather than machine-adapted learning" - because of face it, educators know their kids better than anyone! Katie couldn't be more passionate about the possibilities for teachers easily making their own customized and interactive lessons which can include audiovisual activities. Best part, the ability to share them with others and revise and remix community content to fit your own students’ needs! Alert: their Beta program is only free until June 30, 2016. Speak Agent invests you with the power to make your content interactive and engaging on an individual learner level — without getting in the way. TWA is excited about the pedagogical ramifications SpeakAgent is working toward, so keep your eye on this company.
Monkey Bar Collective is a wonderful new company with two co-founders formerly from Scholastic. Their app Monkey Spot is designed as a scavenger hunt and literally put creativity back in the hands of children. Choose between seven different themes from an Art Museum Adventure to the Backseat Driver. The imaginative nature of this app gives kids and parents Carte Blanche of using the app literally anywhere with any story, plot, and backdrop. Basically, kids are performing for the camera, hints are included to help with new vocabulary, idea prompts and suggestions which all guide children to find a solution, there is no right or wrong - ever! Critical thinking at its best! The end result is a documented slideshow to share and share again. The experience is a lot more than FUN, and by its very essence, the app is a great way to get families playing together and children collaborating with one another.