Children's engagement with educational iPad apps: insights from a Spanish classroom

Kucirkova, Natalia; Messer, David; Sheehy, Kieron and Fernandez-Panadero, Carmen (2014). Children's engagement with educational iPad apps: insights from a Spanish classroom. Computers & Education, 71 pp. 175–184.



This study investigates the effects of a story-making app called Our Story and a selection of other educational apps on the learning engagement of forty-one Spanish 4–5-year-olds. Children were observed interacting in small groups with the story-making app and this was compared to their engagement with a selection of construction and drawing apps. Children's engagement was analysed in two ways: it was categorised using Bangert-Drowns and Pyke's taxonomy for individual hands-on engagement with educational software, and using the concept of exploratory talk as developed by Mercer et al. to analyse peer engagement. For both approaches, quantitative and qualitative indices of children's engagement were considered. The overall findings suggested that in terms of the Bangert-Drowns and Pyke taxonomy, the quality of children's individual engagement was higher with the OS app in contrast to their engagement with other app software. The frequency of children's use of exploratory talk was similar with the OS and colouring and drawing apps, and a detailed qualitative analysis of the interaction transcripts revealed several instances of the OS and drawing apps supporting joint problem-solving and collaborative engagement. We suggest that critical indices of an app's educational value are the extent to which the app supports opportunities for open-ended content and children's independent use of increasingly difficult features.

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