Edutaining our children

Screen shot of Blackbear the Pirate

The fight between reading the book versus watching the movie is over…at least for children.

Autor*in Jo Wilkinson, 11.13.13

The fight between reading the book versus watching the movie is over…at least for children.

Edutainment Systems LLP has created a free edutainment tool that blends the divide between learning and amusement. Their new augmented reality app brings Steve Buckley’s Blackbear the Pirate tale to life, helping children hone their reading skills while watching the animated 3D story about courage and teamwork unfold in front of their eyes.

The combination of the written word, 3D images and character-narrated story offers children a learning environment that most parents could only dream of. Designed to engage struggling and proficient young readers, the animated book is given a life of its own when a phone or tablet is pointed at the book (paper or on-screen). Within seconds the reader is confronted with a read-a-long style storybook, showcasing 3D animals flying across and off the page.

Blackbear the Pirate demonstrates one of the latest learning tools born in the intersection between education and entertainment.  It follows a wealth of technology and tech-based tools (including Pixton and Diptiy) that channel youngsters’ interest into the streams of traditional education.  And progress in this field is becoming more widespread: first graders in two Kenyan schools are learning to read this month using a new e-learning application, GraphoGame.

The GraphoGame application was originally developed in Finland and is now part of a pilot project funded by Wärtsilä. The aim is to teach first graders in several African countries the very basic language skills crucial for learning to read via mobile technology.

Technology-based learning tools like Blackbear the Pirate and GraphoGame clearly demonstrate heightened levels of engagement in learning to read, as well as in the act of learning itself. The latter game also offers an access for children to experiment and navigate their way around technological tools when they might not otherwise have the opportunity. Despite these benefits, however, the concrete outcomes of technology-based edutainment tools are still relatively unknown, and a number of competing studies highlight this fact.

What is known for certain is that tech-learning tools are instrumental in supporting the United Nations’ ‘Education for All’ mission, so long as it is done at an affordable cost.

This insight was revealed in a recent document on the fast-track methods necessary to achieve the education-related Millennium Development Goals: “These technologies have great potential for knowledge dissemination, effective learning and the development of more efficient education services.”

The document highlights the benefits of ICT developments – their spread, availability, content and declining prices – as all having major implications for the future process of learning, thereby signifying the growth of this market to come.

Learning with 1s and 0s

The shift towards getting tech tools into classrooms in the developing world is providing new educational pathways to children that help ensure no one is left behind in our highly digitised world.

E-Learning: A Billion Year Journey

We have come a long way since our greatest tool for education was a cave wall and a sharp stone. Many children are now growing up in a world where they have a Facebook profile before they’re out of the womb, are learning the 5 Little Monkeys rhyme on an iPad, and reading about Winnie the Pooh via an interactive storybook rather than the hardcover versions their parents once treasured.