Relevant research

m-Evaluate builds on previously funded project by BERA (British Educational Research Association) investigating the impact of mobile applications on young children’s science learning and understanding. Findings from this study have been published in the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET). A summary of the findings below:

“A popular activity among young children is the use of mobile devices and apps. Yet, the impact of mobile devices on learning and development is rather underexplored. The limited studies identified explore effects on literacy development and communication and report on mixed findings. A considerable gap is observed as to how the use of mobile apps relates to young children’s understanding in diverse domains including science learning, and to extend, whether and how mobile apps should be used and how in early years’ settings. The aim of this paper is to shed light on this area by examining the learning effects of touch screen mobile game applications, in particular the game Angry Birds, on two groups of preschoolers 4 and 5 years old respectively. Evidence from a comparative study with 32 participants reveal significant differences between the two groups in terms of game skills and their understanding of projectile motion. Implications for educational stakeholders, parents and app designers are discussed along with future research directions”. Citation: Herodotou, Christothea (2017). Mobile games and science learning: A comparative study of 4 and 5 years old playing the game Angry Birds. British Journal of Educational Technology. DOI: 10.1111/bjet.12546

m-Evaluate also extends previous work on young children with autism:

‘The Use of Mobile Devices to Encourage the Development of Joint Attention Skills in Children with Autism’

Mobile devices such as tablets are increasingly used in primary schools with reported benefits in communication, independent learning and creativity. Children with autism spectrum disorder have an affinity with tablets, which is recognised by the autism research community with many studies gradually emerging in this field. The benefits of mobile devices and interactive technologies in providing structure and predictability and the vast variety of apps that can facilitate social communication makes it imperative to effectively incorporate iPads in the teaching of joint attention. Joint attention is a pivotal skill in a child’s development that can affect later social development, communication and play skills.
Despite the increase use of mobile devices there is a lack of guidance for parents and teachers on how to use these devices in home and school environments for young children with autism. Semi structured interviews and focus groups with parents, teachers, children and academics were conducted that led to the development of guidelines for both teachers and parents to support the use of tablets in developing joint attention opportunities in home and primary schools (Reception-Key Stage 2). These were developed and refined in consultation with teachers, parents, children and academics. The proposed guidelines aim to help teachers to improve their teaching practice and to urge parents to use the tablet with their child in more collaborative ways.
Research outputs:
Mangafa, C. (2017) Navigating the Digital Wild West of Apps: How Can Teachers and Parents Find Suitable Apps for their Children with Autism to Improve their Social Communication Skills? In: Innovative Technologies for Autism Spectrum Disorder-Matching technology with people: Evidenced-based practice, p.29-30. 30 June – 2 July 2017, Valencia, Spain, http://oro.open.ac.uk/52150/.
Mangafa C., Moody L., Woodcock A., Woolner A. (2016) The Design of Guidelines for Teachers and Parents in the Use of iPads to Support Children with Autism in the Development of Joint Attention Skills. In: Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9747. pp 178-186, Springer, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-40355-7_17.
Mangafa, C., Moody, L., Woodcock, A. and Woolner, A. (2015) Teachers’ Experiences of Developing Joint Attention Skills in Children with Autism Using iPads. In: the 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies EDULEARN15 Proceedings, pp. 6170–6179, ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1.