Sunday, December 7, 2014

Educational apps : Disney Imagicademy







"Disney Imagicademy" aims to expose three to eight-year-old children to core educational concepts with a portfolio of learning apps

Last Thursday, December 4, 
Disney Publishing Worldwide unveiled a technology-driven learning initiative called Disney Imagicademy. The digital learning initiative Imagicademy will be launched next week, on December 11.




It’s a suite of mobile learning apps for kids, along with an app where parents can follow along, give their kids a virtual high five, and see recommended physical activities that complement that in-app lessons.

Disney said is "the outgrowth of our work with experts" who specialize in early childhood education and believe that social skills are as important as the "1,2,3,4,5 things" when it comes to learning.


screenshot Donald's Number Launcher

Aims:

It aims to expose three to eight-year-old children to core educational concepts via a curriculum developed in conjunction with academic and education experts.

It's done with a very compelling curriculum-based approach, and it's "based on characters and mythologies that kids love."

The product launch begins with Mickey's Magical Math World, an iPad-exclusive app focused on math-based activities such as counting, shapes, logic and sorting that features five math-focused activities :

  • Mickey's Super Rocket Shapes 
  • Donald's Number Launcher
  • Minnie's Robot Count-Along 
  • Goofy's Silly Sorting.
  • Daisy's Bedtime Countdown and 
Each app aims to hone early math skills such as counting forward and backward, sorting and classifying, skip counting, number and shapes recognition, reason and logic.

The second range of digital apps is Mickey's Magical Arts World, focused on creative arts, available on the Apple App Store for download in January.



Mickey's Super Rocket Shapes

"Discover how much fun numbers, shapes, and problem solving can be!"

It aims families with children aged 3 to 8.  Developed with a team of educational experts, Imagicademy will include more than 30 app-based “experiences” centered on various subjects:



  • math
  • science 
  • creative arts
  • language arts 
  • emotional and social skills

The first app to launch will be Mickey’s Magical Math World on iPad, as well as the companion app for parents.

Disney will also sell related books and interactive toys. “Smart” stuffed animals, for instance, will be able to talk to Imagicademy users, responding to app activity and encouraging them to complete lessons.

"As you can see, it’s so much more than a set of digital apps - it’s about a brand,” (...)  “It’s a comprehensive suite of connected experiences, all of which have been created with quality, attention to detail, and, yes, magic.”

Andrew Sugarman, Disney

Here’s a demo video of Mickey’s Magical Math World :



Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products, said the company interviewed parents about existing learning apps, “Parents told us they are confused and that they want a quality product from a name they trust,” noting that Imagicademy is designed for parents to keep tabs on their children’s progress.



Parents

During the presentation, last Thursday, 
Jeff Sellinger, senior vice president of Disney Learning, gave quick demos of the math app, as well as Mickey’s Magical World of Arts

Both of them actually include five different games - fo
r example, there’s a game focused on helping kids learn about three-dimensional shapes by assembling rockets.



screenshot Mickey's Super Rocket Shapes

Levels : 
  • Preschool ; 
  • Primary (1st and 2nd grades)
Target:

The target age group for these initial apps is three to five


Over time, there will be apps for six- to eight-year-olds, and they might start incorporating other Disney characters and brands, like Star Wars and Marvel.

Prize:


The apps will be free at first and offer a “pretty deep” experience.

  • Later, you’re asked to pay $4.99 for each game inside the app;
  • Or $19.99 for all five.

Education:

“Curriculum is not an easy thing to do it really well, particularly when you’re driving towards imagination and creativity.” 

Early childhood education focuses on children's learning through play, based on the research and philosophy of Jean Piaget. This belief is centered on the "power of play". 

Children learn more efficiently and gain more knowledge through play-based activities such as dramatic play, art, and social games. A great number of pedagogical experiences proove that.

The theory of play stems from children's natural curiosity and imagination, allowing topic lessons to occur. 

Jean Piaget, theory

So this new line of learning tools designed to help parents encourage kids 3 to 8 to learn outside of school is based on this theory.

The importance of early math learning is recognized. Kids will learn in a playful approach. Not only math of course. But for the moment we are describing a math app.

Each app aims to hone early math skills such as : counting forward and backward, sorting and classifying, skip counting, number and shapes recognition, reason and logic.

With Parents app, they can ask their kids, “What did you learn in school today?” and getting a shrug in response — because those parents can now open their companion app and see for themselves.


The companion app for parents lets grown-ups follow along with what their kids are doing even if they are using a separate mobile device. 

It also suggests a bevy of offline activities, such as creating "rocket racers" using toilet paper tubes, duct tape and balloons, or making a colorful "quilt" out of tissue paper to learn shapes.

All these creates deeper and more engaging experiences for kids and families. As teachers, we know the importance of engaged parents in school education.



screenshot Minnie's Robot count-along

And there is more. It's interesting to watch Minnie Mouse app building a robot (no more limits for boys and girls specific skills). 

Study finds that girls are interested in STEM and aspire to STEM careers, but need further exposure and education about what STEM careers can offer, and how STEM can help girls make a difference in the world.

All the initiatives trying to open new paths are welcome. An teachers have an important role on it. 
You can begin by talking about women in science, math, astronomy, technology in your lessons exploring great women to motivate girls and young women.
Another important point is kids and mobiles devices. The proliferation of mobile devices and as more parents grow comfortable letting their kids use them, at least with limits in place, don't forget.

The American Association of Pediatrics estimates that children spend an average of seven hours a day on "entertainment media" that includes TVs, computers, phones and other electronic devices. 

It recommends no more than two hours a day spent consuming and engaging with "high-quality content."

"Only education is capable of saving our societies from possibel collapse, wether violent, or gradual."


Jean Piaget
G-Souto
07.10.2014
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