Apps, Language & Learning: What you need to know

Canada · CPD courses & CPD points · Health Professionals

Excessive screen time use in children is bombarding social media feeds. Consequently many therapists, parents, and educators are lamenting the introduction of the "magic tablet" that promised to teach our children.

 

'An app is not a teacher, it is not a guide and it is not an authority. An app is a digital teaching resource.'

Richard Wells 

Whilst many have been quick to berate the ill effects using technology and screen time, there is very little research on the effectiveness of using apps for learning, or how to use apps effectively. There is even less research on using apps for language and learning with children. Many of the studies in the educational field pertain to children using apps independently. The research that exists in speech-language therapy is mainly focused on special needs populations such as alternative and augmentative communication (AAC).  

Developmental language disorder (DLD, also called specific language impairment, SLI) is a common developmental disorder comprising the largest disability group in pre-school-aged children. Communication and language is central to learning, social interaction, and academic success. Technology is not going away any time soon, so it is incumbent on us to learn to use technology and apps so that we harness their potential for language and learning. 

My study published in December 2018 investigated how speech-language therapists around the world are using apps to support language intervention with children. You can find a link to my study over here.

WHAT WE KNOW: 

Many speech-language therapists are incorporating the apps into their therapy because they are motivating and engaging for children.

But, therapists are using apps in the same way as any other tool. However, they are NOT the same. An app is two dimensional. Learning with two-dimensional images may result in difficulty transferring information to three dimensional images because of perceptual difficulties. It is therefore important to consider the developmental level of the child together with an understanding of multimedia learning.

The principles of multimedia learning are based on the assumption that we have two "channels' for processing information (auditory and visual). We know that learning is easier with words and pictures rather than words or pictures. However, there is limited capacity in each channel, and therefore it is important not to overload them. In order to learn we need to actively process, filter, select, organize and integrate information. If the two channels compete with one another, instead of complementing one another, it makes learning more difficult. A good explanation on the cognitive theory of multimedia learning can be found here

WHAT I FOUND:

Some therapists reported that they have abandoned using apps because they found it difficult to align using apps in therapy and limit screen-time at home. However, if apps are used together with someone who is facilitating their use, then apps can be an important way of enhancing learning. 

Most speech-language therapists are very aware of the importance of interaction when using apps. Their knowledge and understanding of the different factors that may affect communication and language, means that a speech-language therapist will consider this information carefully when using apps and technology.

.I'll buy this app and it will teach my kid pronouns. Well it's not going to if you are not using it correctly and there is no adult human being helping.

It's not a baby-sitting tool, you can't just park a kid in front of an app and that's therapy done.

 It is important to use evidence-based strategies for language intervention when using apps.

We need to be aware of how different features of multimedia learning affect using apps. This means that educators and therapists need to incorporate information from different fields (i.e. multimedia learning) in order to incorporate using apps effectively. Some features have the potential to promote learning. Some features detract from learning.

Some of the features of apps that facilitate learning learning include:

- Presenting words and pictures together

- Controlling the pace of the information so that if the child has difficulty, the appropriate support can be given

- Using animation

- Familiar characters

- An accent that is familiar to the child

However, multiple sources of information only have the potential to increase student's understanding. Their successful use and integration rely on instructional principles. 

Some of the features of apps that interfere with learning include:

- Background music/sounds

- Unfamiliar accents

- Too much movement

- Unnecessary information

Features that assisted therapists include:

- Saving data in the app

- Having different user profiles

- Different levels of difficulty in the app

- Knowledge of the evidence used when developing the app.

 

WHAT SHOULD WE DO?:

We need to find a way to identify which apps will actually give us the features and flexibility to make good progress on language and learning goals. 

If we identify these features, we can begin to understand which features in apps help children learn.

So.

After considering all the information that contributes to, or detracts from learning, I developed a Feature Matching Checklist. This checklist may help us identify which apps have the features that will help children learn, together with a speech-language therapist.

Calabash · South Africa
Calabash Articles · South Africa
Calabash Partners · South Africa
Calabash Contributors · South Africa
Calabash Speakers · South Africa
Calabash Talks · South Africa
Calabash Sign up · South Africa
Calabash Sign in · South Africa
Occupational Therapists CPD courses & CPD points · South Africa
Speech Therapists CPD courses & CPD points · South Africa
Psychologists CPD courses & CPD points · South Africa
Article · Napping in Adults · South Africa
Article · Teletherapy in Speech Therapy: Some Surprising Benefits · South Africa
Article · The Development of Masculinity in Ulwaluko kwa Xhosa · South Africa
South Africa CPD courses & CPD points · South Africa
Dementia CPD courses & CPD points · South Africa
United States CPD courses & CPD points · South Africa
Talk · Building Brains: Foundations of Neuroanatomy · South Africa
Talk · POPI Act Compliance for Health Care Professionals · South Africa
Talk · Career Psychology: An Introduction · South Africa
About Partners · South Africa
Uploading a Talk · South Africa
About Contributors · South Africa
Calabash · Australia
Calabash Articles · Australia
Calabash Partners · Australia
Calabash Contributors · Australia
Calabash Speakers · Australia
Calabash Talks · Australia
Calabash Sign up · Australia
Calabash Sign in · Australia
Medical Professionals CPD courses & CPD points · Australia
Psychiatrists CPD courses & CPD points · Australia
Audiologists CPD courses & CPD points · Australia
Article · Parenting in Cyberspace · Australia
Article · Euphoria: what every therapist and parent needs to know about the show every teen is talking about · Australia
Article · PTSD in Mothers of Premature Infants · Australia
Learning Difficulties CPD courses & CPD points · Australia
Language development CPD courses & CPD points · Australia
Australia CPD courses & CPD points · Australia
Talk · Traumatic Brain Injury: Effects & Neuropsychological Considerations · Australia
Talk · Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: Mindfulness - The "What & How" Skills · Australia
Talk · Couples Counselling: An essential introductory map · Australia
About Contributors · Australia
Privacy Policy · Australia
Terms of Use · Australia
Calabash · New Zealand
Calabash Articles · New Zealand
Calabash Partners · New Zealand
Calabash Contributors · New Zealand
Calabash Speakers · New Zealand
Calabash Talks · New Zealand
Calabash Sign up · New Zealand
Calabash Sign in · New Zealand
Dieticians CPD courses & CPD points · New Zealand
Registered Counsellors CPD courses & CPD points · New Zealand
Psychologists CPD courses & CPD points · New Zealand
Article · Literature & Mental Health · New Zealand
Article · Points of Consideration for Post-Graduates Seeking Employment · New Zealand
Article · The core of 12 Step meetings – an insider’s view on why they are so effective · New Zealand
Payment CPD courses & CPD points · New Zealand
CPD courses & CPD points · New Zealand
Paediatrics CPD courses & CPD points · New Zealand
Talk · Suicide Prevention and Self-Harm in Adolescents · New Zealand
Talk · Listening and Language Development driven by Play in 0-3 years old · New Zealand
Talk · Emotionally dysregulated clients: Supporting Families - 2. Accepting Feelings & Changing Behaviour · New Zealand
Frequently Asked Questions · New Zealand
Uploading a Talk · New Zealand
Uploading an Article · New Zealand
Calabash · United Kingdom
Calabash Articles · United Kingdom
Calabash Partners · United Kingdom
Calabash Contributors · United Kingdom
Calabash Speakers · United Kingdom
Calabash Talks · United Kingdom
Calabash Sign up · United Kingdom
Calabash Sign in · United Kingdom
Medical Professionals CPD courses & CPD points · United Kingdom
Psychologists CPD courses & CPD points · United Kingdom
Registered Counsellors CPD courses & CPD points · United Kingdom
Article · Help! I caught my child watching porn, what must I do?! · United Kingdom
Article · Why Would a Baby Need a Psychiatrist · United Kingdom
Article · Teletherapy in Speech Therapy: Some Surprising Benefits · United Kingdom
Careers CPD courses & CPD points · United Kingdom
Emotional Intelligence CPD courses & CPD points · United Kingdom
Learning CPD courses & CPD points · United Kingdom
Talk · Nature vs. Nurture: Understanding the link between psychology and genetics · United Kingdom
Talk · Emotionally dysregulated clients: Supporting Families - 5. Mindfulness and the Brain · United Kingdom
Talk · Anxiety Disorders: Differential Diagnosis and Treatment · United Kingdom
About Calabash · United Kingdom
How It Works · United Kingdom
About Partners · United Kingdom
Calabash · United States
Calabash Articles · United States
Calabash Partners · United States
Calabash Contributors · United States
Calabash Speakers · United States
Calabash Talks · United States
Calabash Sign up · United States
Calabash Sign in · United States
Dieticians CPD courses & CPD points · United States
Psychiatrists CPD courses & CPD points · United States
Occupational Therapists CPD courses & CPD points · United States
Article · An Intro to Marketing for Healthcare Professionals · United States
Article · The Pursuit of Goldilocks: Why working collaboratively with Allied Early Intervention Therapists offers children the best chance to develop effectively · United States
Article · Teletherapy in Speech Therapy: Some Surprising Benefits · United States
Canada CPD courses & CPD points · United States
Sports Psychology CPD courses & CPD points · United States
Addiction CPD courses & CPD points · United States
Talk · CBT with Children and Adolescents: Generalized Anxiety Disorder · United States
Talk · Serving as an Expert Witness: Ethical and Legal Considerations for Healthcare Professionals · United States
Talk · Demystifying Tinnitus · United States
Terms of Use · United States
Uploading an Article · United States
Uploading a Talk · United States
Calabash · Canada
Calabash Articles · Canada
Calabash Partners · Canada
Calabash Contributors · Canada
Calabash Speakers · Canada
Calabash Talks · Canada
Calabash Sign up · Canada
Calabash Sign in · Canada
Registered Counsellors CPD courses & CPD points · Canada
Physiotherapists CPD courses & CPD points · Canada
Occupational Therapists CPD courses & CPD points · Canada
Article · Colinda Linde on Note Taking · Canada
Article · Understanding Complex PTSD · Canada
Article · A GP's perspective on Mental Health Referrals · Canada
Confidentiality CPD courses & CPD points · Canada
Neonatal ICU CPD courses & CPD points · Canada
United States CPD courses & CPD points · Canada
Talk · New ways of Approaching Borderline Personality Disorder: Insights on Trauma & Addiction · Canada
Talk · Adolescents : The Teenage Brain · Canada
Talk · Motor learning principles and feeding · Canada
About Partners · Canada
How It Works · Canada
Uploading an Article · Canada
Psychologist in Sydney