How KinderTown Reviews Apps: The Review Matrix

Reviewing at KinderTown is not a simple task. After reading reviews, descriptions and screenshots we make the call to put an app through the review matrix.

Reviewing at KinderTown is not a simple task. After reading reviews, descriptions and screenshots we independently make the call to put an app through the review matrix. Apps that pass the review matrix by meeting a portion of the criteria described below also may get a second round of evaluating with children, parents and teachers.

 

The KinderTown Review Matrix is built around four sets of criteria. Two sets focus on educational strategies, and two sets focus on user features.

 

Educational Strategies

Set 1: Educational Value

To evaluate educational value we look for explicit, authentic learning paired with effective feedback.

 

Explicit learning means that the objective presented in the app is easily identifiable. Before we even look at game play or the activity, we want to see a clear learning objective or educational experience.

 

Authentic is often thrown around lightly to describe educational activities. When we use authentic to describe learning we take it very seriously. For an app to use authentic learning it should simulate real experiences and be relevant to a child’s world. This is especially important for our 3-6 age range.

 

Authentic environments support children who are not developmentally ready to be making sophisticated, abstract connections make sense of difficult concepts. Play is the best example of authentic learning because with play, children actively explore, role play and discover to engage in the world around them.

 

The beautiful thing about app technology is that children can interact in authentic environments that are difficult to recreate at home or in the classroom. Speaking from my own experience designing lessons for the classroom, consistently creating authentic learning environments can be difficult to achieve. Apps that are not clearly authentic but use best practices from lesson design are always considered at KinderTown.

 

Feedback is a critical element that has long-lasting effects on children. Anyone working with children questions what is the best way to be constructive with praise. Research points to praising children for their effort instead of the product produced. We look for apps that model feedback on rewarding and praising children for the attempts they make or for reaching a goal instead of giving feedback only for answers right or wrong.

 

Set 2: Engagement

To evaluate engagement we look for meaningful, fun activities that use scaffolding to keep children motivated and create a long shelf life for the app.

 

Meaningful and fun can vary greatly from child to child. We evaluate these areas based on if the content would be relevant to different learning styles and if the app uses incentive strategies to keep children engaged. We believe the most powerful incentive is effective feedback as it develops intrinsic motivation. Strategies such as earning collections, sensory breaks, and social engagement also add to length of engagement.

 

Scaffolding is vital to educational app design and is directly related to engagement. Scaffolding is the way concepts and skills are thoughtfully layered on previous learning. Scaffolding lessens frustration by making every task slightly more challenging but not to the point where the child feels they can not accomplish the task. Often apps provide multiple levels or build in analytics that modifies the difficulty based on how the user interacts in the app.

 

User Features

Set 1: Ease of Use

Apps for children age 3-6 need to take into account a large span of developmental growth. A 3 year old is going to engage with a device in a much different way than a 6-year-old.

 

We look for apps that pair developmental appropriate content with suitable design. If the app is teaching number identification geared towards 3 and 4 year-olds but the user is required to drag and drop small items across the screen, or pinch and reverse pinch to get through the game there is a gap between design and educational value.

 

Ease of use also means that the child is safe in the app. Buttons for tweeting, liking, emailing, getting more apps, or upgrading the content are not necessary for children to engage in independently. We understand that these buttons are excellent tools for parents but we prefer they be locked or hidden from the child.

 

Set 2: Design Features

This last set is where we look for how apps integrate extra features that add to the whole experience.

 

We especially like to see apps that add parent features. Apps that use speech, which is critical for independent use and vocabulary development. Apps that allow multiple children to use the app, save their work, and personalize their experience. Lastly, we appreciate apps that have a recording or reporting feature for parents.

 

Summary

Let me remind you what kinds of apps get approved by KinderTown:

 

We believe just about any app (even the oft-cited Angry Birds!) can be amazing in the hands of a parent or teacher who knows how to tie it to meaningful knowledge and activities. Since children are often using apps independently and don’t always have a parent or teacher to make the content meaningful, KinderTown looks for stand-alone apps that children can enjoy and learn from without the assistance of an adult.

 

Our objective is to do the time consuming job of discovery for parents. We aim to approve apps that meet the needs of the majority of children. We look for apps that possess quality design and demonstrate a knowledge of how young children learn. We approve a limited amount of apps so that parents can find what they need without having to spend a lot of time searching.

 

Download the most popular guide to finding and using educational apps for kids!






12 responses to “How KinderTown Reviews Apps: The Review Matrix”

  1. Superb blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get responses from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

  2. I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll.

  3. sex slaves says:

    Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…”

  4. I every time emailed this webpage post page to all my contacts, because if like to read it next my contacts will too.

  5. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation?
    My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any ways to help prevent content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

    Here is my blog :: muscle building diet for men

  6. This design is incredible! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how
    you presented it. Too cool!

    Visit my web blog … 100% green coffee bean extract gnc

  7. I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I am not
    sure whether this post is written by him as nobody
    else know such detailed about my problem. You’re incredible! Thanks!

    Feel free to visit my blog post – symptoms of high testosterone levels in children

  8. Romaine says:

    Very quickly this site will be famous amid all blogging people, due to it’s pleasant content

  9. I think the admin of this website is actually working hard for his website, as here every data is quality based stuff.

    Take a look at my homepage telecharger subway surfers

  10. What’s up to every one, it’s in fact a fastidious for me to pay a visit this web page, it consists of valuable Information.

  11. With industry executives boldly predicted that in 2014, the mobile phone’s built-in browser to visit your social bubble witch 2 saga hack networking
    sites. But will our hard-working waitress get a little time from work, which then allows the enterprise to build awareness in their handsets.
    The application allows users to smoothly switch between game
    and app ideas and according to game development solutions,
    you will see tons of mobile phones or Smartphone.

    Look at my blog … Bubble witch 2 saga hack iphone

  12. Nestor says:

    I’m not sure exactly whhy but this weblig is loading extremely slow for me.
    Is anyone ellse having this issue or is it a issue on mmy end?
    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem
    still exists.

    Feel free to surf to myy web page :: seo Berkhamsted (Nestor)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *