YogiPlay: The Need For Quality Standards In Educational Apps For Kids

Guest Blog, by Tim Donovan of YogiPlay: As many of you who read this blog on a regular basis know, I am a big believer in 21st Century learning and the “democratization” or accessibility of education via mobile media and related smart devices. Now more than ever before do we (and I mean the collective “we”) have an enormous opportunity (not to mention a social obligation) to educate the masses.  Through the medium of mobile devices, access to learning based services is just a few clicks and a swipe or two away. And this is a good thing. But access to services through mobile devices is only part of the equation. The other part is the learning content itself.  And this is where I feel we’re falling short, especially as this relates to mobile learning and children. Allow me to explain. Right now the adoption of mobile devices (specifically smartphones and tablets) by families is on an unprecedented path of growth. The price points for smart devices continues to go down, family data plans are becoming more reasonable, and the devices themselves are so simple to use, that even your average 2 yr. old can easily self-author content. You would think that the combination of these things would make for a perfect storm in early childhood learning via mobile  - and you would almost be right except for one thing……..
There are no defined standards or guidelines for establishing educational quality in learning apps for children.
And there should be. Because there are no standards, consumers are left scratching their heads having to rely on reviews many of which are not based on authority. In addition, the terms “educational” or “learning” are often used loosely by developers (and unfortunately by the various app marketplace gatekeepers), resulting in a glut of mediocre apps that sound beneficial but for the most part deliver little to no learning value. In the end, consumers are stuck with no standards for certifying the educational quality in apps, so they’ve become – and rightly so –  hesitant to pay more than $1 for any app.
This is why right now is the perfect time to bring this discussion of educational quality standards and transparency in apps to the forefront.
Parents are in desperate need of education so they know what to look for; developers are in great need to be recognized (and paid…) for creating high-quality apps; and most importantly our children need the benefit of quality learning. To help get people thinking about this topic, I’ve included a few thoughts on how best to approach a standards implementation. This includes: 1) Build consensus on the need for educational standards defined collectively by key stakeholders including early childhood educators, learning app developers, app recommendation services, and the major app marketplaces. 2) Promote standards-based developer programs to ensure the exceptional development of high-quality educational apps. 3) Initiate an education program to inform parents/teachers on what to look for in-app educational quality. 4) Unite them-learning industry, by creating a 21st Century learning consortium to influence technology companies with marketplaces (Apple, Google, Amazon….) on their selection, categorization and promotion processes related to educational apps. If we can begin this process by working collectively, then we will be able to capture this amazing mobile learning opportunity for all.  If you like or believe in this post, please share it. Food for thought. – Tim D

YogiPlay And Teachers With Apps Join Forces To Promote Higher Educational Standards In Learning Apps For Kids - Partnership to drive industry and consumers dialog as parents demand greater app quality and benefits. 
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1 Response

  1. I find this read very interesting. Bringing apps to “transparency in the forefront” seems a-must nowadays. I think though, that how the apps will be integrated into classroom activities will make a more significant difference. It’s not just the quality that matters but also the efficiency of the apps and that’s what I hope the builders should give a bigger percentage of focus, too.