EngagementIs the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?5
The premise of the Gloop family story is thought out and well executed. Illustrations and animations are cartoony and something kids will enjoy. A "must have" for some family fun.
PedagogyIs learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?4
Kids can learn to problem solve, investigate, and think creatively as they figure out what is needed to fulfill their photo assignments. Kids get step-by-step instruction on how to take pictures using an iOS-style camera.
SupportDoes the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?1
The photo review provides kids with feedback on their solutions and also gives parents a way to begin conversations with kids about important learning topics.
Have kids work in pairs -- with one choosing the items to photograph and the other deciding whether the pictured items will adequately solve the problem. Or, have small groups work together to think of items to photograph and then switch roles (and devices) with another group to decide whether the pictured items will solve the alien's problems. Use it as a beginning of the year project to introduce expectations for working in groups, to model how to offer constructive feedback, or to demonstrate rules and expectations for using the classroom devices. Since it's a highly engaging, quick (with a four-clue game) mission, you can easily work in some creative problem solving without much fuss or prep.
Alien Assignment is a scavenger hunt that empowers kids to interpret assignments themselves. For example, they must find something that rolls -- will they choose wheels on a toy car, their pencil, or some other object that even you might not think of? Kids use the device’s camera to take a photo of the objects on their mission. You can customize the number of assignments in the settings (choosing 4, 8, 10, 15, or 20). After kids have completed their assignment, they are instructed to bring the camera to an adult (though in a classroom, having another kid play that role would be an empowering collaborative activity) to give a thumbs up or thumbs down about whether each pictured object would serve the purpose described in the mission. If an item doesn't pass inspection, kids get another chance to find and photograph an object. If they do, then the Gloop family uses the items to repair their spaceship. Mission accomplished!
The storyline of the stranded Gloop family draws kids in, and they'll be engaged in helping the family repair their spaceship using their unique ideas. The pass back-and-forth aspect of Alien Assignment is innovative and encourages kids to interact socially. The missions do repeat after a few rounds of play, so this isn't a tool that could be used every day. Kids can't rely on the app to give feedback -- they must interact with another person to get feedback, but that's not necessarily a bad thing! They'll think creatively, feel empowered, and work cooperatively to solve a problem and see immediate results.