Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D.
Director, Infant Language Laboratory
Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series—Children are in the midst of a vast, unplanned experiment, surrounded by digital technologies that were not available but five years ago. At the apex of this boom is the introduction of applications ("apps") for tablets and smartphones. So-called "educational apps" - which as of July 2014 stand at 75,000 in the App Store (Apple, 2014a), are largely unregulated and untested.
This talk offers a way to think about the potential educational impact of current and future apps. Building on decades of work from the Science of Learning, which has examined how children learn best, we abstract a set of principles for two ultimate goals. First, we aim to guide researchers, educators, and designers in evidence-based app development. Second, the creation of an evidence-based guide will contribute to setting a new standard for evaluating and selecting the most effective existing children's apps. In short, this talk presents one way to align the design and use of educational apps with known processes of children's learning and development and offers a framework that can be used by parents and designers alike. Apps designed to promote active, engaged, meaningful and socially interactive learning (4 pillars) within the context of a supported learning goal emerge as those that are not just called "educational" but that are truly educational.
This lecture is sponsored by the Center for Research on Families’ Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series. The Center for Research on Families (CRF) is an endowed interdisciplinary research center in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series brings internationally recognized speakers with expertise in family research to campus each year. The lecture series began in 1999 through an endowment established in memory of Tay Gavin Erickson.