April 20, 2018
UCI Student Center Woods Cove
Presenter: Melissa Callaghan
Title: The Preschool App Market: Does It Support Early Learning?
Young children who have not yet started formal schooling are likely to engage with digital devices in their homes (Plowman et al, 2010), especially since over half of educational apps on mobile app markets are for preschoolers (Shuler, 2012). This creates great opportunities for early learning, but little research has explored how popular preschool apps are designed and whether their designs are truly educational. Preschoolers process information differently from older learners (i.e., shorter attention spans), so developmental science could be used to guide the design of educational apps from aesthetic decisions (e.g., meaningful characters) to end-of-game rewards (e.g., leveling up). This presentation describes an analysis of the features used by preschool math and literacy apps on Apple and Android markets. By connecting learning and developmental science research to the design of educational apps, this presentation offers insights for designing and selecting developmentally appropriate games for young users. Ultimately, this research aims to understand the apps young children are using and whether app designs can be improved to meaningfully teach early learners in the future.