Designing great learning experiences for web, mobile and apps takes more than cute graphics and sticker rewards. There are surprisingly a great deal of parameters to keep in mind to create an ideal learning framework.
Here’s Bean Creative’s holy grail on providing kids with positive edutech experiences:
Layout and design considerations
- Include really big hot spots — studies show there are huge differences between how adults and kids move to a target on screen.
- Use obvious icons that are already in kids’ visual vocabulary (i.e. a stop sign shape means stop, the color green means go).
- Employ visual and audio cues to acknowledge when kids are touching things on screen (otherwise, they will press harder!)
- Studies prove that text-to-audio highlighting is really important for reading.
- Drag and drop is hard for younger kids because maintaining consistent content is challenging, and sometimes their hand gets in the way as they want to look where they are on screen. Instead, try progressive movement so that items don’t snap back all they way to their original state.
- Input options like scrolling, pinch and grab are not innate for kids. They are learned motions, and are abstract.
- Repeat instruction using a variety of words and phrases, and provide these frequently during player pauses/timeouts to provide assistance.
- Bells and whistles need to ADD to the comprehension, not distract (avoid interaction that’s just for fun or humor).
- Encourage trial and error — not only is this a key STEM concept, but it also fosters playful exploration and curiosity.
- Build in scaffolding/leveling that supports the user (but doesn’t interrupt or interfere with gameplay).
- Encourage cooperative, collaborative play, as well as role play opportunities.
- Build in breaks for young minds to take a breather.
- Develop for kids first, but don’t forget the parents! They’re the gate keepers who decide what kids are allowed to play (and buy). Strike a balance between a great user experience for kids that also addresses parents’ education expectations.
A little extra care and consideration goes a long way. Share your thoughts and successes in the comments below!