One of the most important concepts we teach about app creation and development is to find a problem a lot of people need solved and solve it. At Griffith University, right here in Queensland, an early learning expert named Dr Michelle Neumann has developed an app that does just that.
Dr Neumann has created an app called the Emergent Literacy Assessment app (ELAa) that is improving children’s ability to learn and read in as little as one week. The app is for both literacy and numeracy and also provides feedback that both parents and teachers can easily understand and use to determine how well a child is doing and what that child needs to work on further.
Dr Neumann created her app because she was not satisfied with the quality of commercially based learning apps currently available. She is especially frustrated game-based learning apps, which she feels are well-meaning but whose developers lack the proper academic underpinnings. She is particularly frustrated that so many learning apps for children have apparently been created “without consultation with educators and researchers.”
Consequently, Dr Neumann put a sizeable amount of research and thought into the app. The app is aimed at children aged four and five and is being beta-tested at child care centres and schools. The app works getting students to first recognise and then say sounds, letters and words.
Dr Neumann recently trialled the app with 20 students at Bonny Babes Childcare Centre in Coomera. At the end of one week, the children scored an average of 80% on a test to see what they had learned and retained. In Tasmania, she repeated the trial with 30 students and obtained near-identical results.
The app was originally designed to be a digital assessment tool for children she was working with in her research. It is designed to be an interactive app that uses all of the senses and finds fun ways to engage children. Dr Neumann feels the app is a “first of a kind letter assessment app that can provide instant feedback on children’s results.”
The parent of two children who were in the trials is pleased with the app because it isn’t a game. She and many parents and researchers have noticed that some children tend to focus on the game aspect of game learning apps and don’t actually learn anything.
The app is designed for children but parents are encouraged to help them use it. It is focused on literacy and numeracy. It not only helps mainstream children but also helps those with learning disabilities.
The app is free and available for iOS devices at the App Store.
What This App Means to App Creation and Development
We have mixed emotions about this app. We love the fact that it gets results but we also detect some academic elitism underpinning the app. Let’s look at the positive things a few app developers can take from the good and the bad here.
Dr Neumann is obviously not a fan of “learning through play,” a staple of Australian child care. She also isn’t a fan of people without the proper credentials trying to help children learn. We can see both sides of her argument. Ultimately, though, some of the best advances in many fields have come from those who didn’t have formal training in those fields.
Mobile app creation and development are fields where the public and mobile devices don’t really care what credentials you have. As long as your app either solves a problem for someone or is a really great game, your background is irrelevant.
The good here, and the part that should be the most inspiring, is that someone was able to come up with an app that helps children learn faster than they learn in school and makes them better equipped to learn when they get to school.
So, how does this affect you? What are you good at? Can you solve a problem that a lot of people who share your interest have? Will those people download an app to help solve that problem? Are there enough people in the niche to make it profitable for you?
If you have an idea for an app, go to the navigation bar at the top of the page and click “contact us.” We will get back to you ASAP.