Apps for children: dust or magic
Mister Pijpers explains how apps can either be dust or magic. He and Astrid Poot wrote a book on it, Positive digital content, which is collection of best practices. It’s accessible via www.mijnkindonline.nl/poscon. Among other things it includes a chapter on how the BBC developed their app for kids and how they tested it with the help kids. They provide ten steps of good testing.
3 basics for good children’s apps
Mister Pijpers says that the three first steps of a good app are relatively easy: 1) it needs to be aesthetically attractive for kids, 2) it needs to be liable (trustworthy; parents need to be informed about how the info provided is being used) and 3) it needs to be user-friendly. Then there’s the x-factor; the magic making. He presents examples of apps with magic:
A magical app
An example of an app with magic: Toca Boca. In the Toca Boca app you can dress up the hair and the looks of a lion. The app is not linear, but open ended which allows the child to be in control. It has humour; somehow they found sounds that the lion makes that are appreciated by kids all over the world, which make it funny. Moreover; it’s simple. Simplicity of an app is quite important.
Head of youth and family projects and creative strategist at FONK
Are you the expert, the inspirer or the partner?
Astrid Poot explains why she embraces ‘having no clue’: it allows you to be open to everything. In almost any developing process in creating ‘new experiences’ people can behave as three types: the expert, the inspirer or the partner. All have their strengths and weaknesses but it can come in useful to realise what you are, to use your strengths to the fullest and to be aware of the pitfalls.
Agents of learning instead of objects of learning
Miss Poot expierence that parents make or break kids’ experience in museums. Her motto is to follow families instead of forcing them. Museums should not always tell families where to look and what to pay attention to . She claims families should be trusted in order to enhance their experience. This goes s far as giving trust even though you’re not sure whether they will repay that trust. Make them agents of learning instead of objects of learning.
“I’m all about big words; like love.”
Additionally, she provides a checklist, including a lot of big words, that she likes to work with in order to check whether she truly follows families, instead of forcing them:
- Positive: ‘Being wrong’ is not a part of learning.
- On their terms: Respect the terms of the people you’re working for. Do not push them by saying: this is where you go, this is where you look, this what you do.
- Personal; towards the family: Trust is learning: we tend to close things op. However, you can’t validate the outcome. Therefore we need to families.
- Valuable, lasting effect: make sure it’s that what you develop is important outside of the museum too.
- Support differences: The parent should be learning as well, not only the child. For example: divide tasks to prevent parents taking over and make sure that different needs are met.
- Focus on content (vs. devices): Form follows function.
- Really together: make sure the topic, people, the place and time really interconnect. This is when you create interaction.
Miss Poot invites everybody to ‘really give’ and maybe see that families do completely different stuff than you intended to create. But that’s ok.