Industry Focus: Early Childhood Education Technology
The children are our future. We have heard this so many times and for a good reason, since this sentence should be our guide when improving the education system. There is no better way to ensure that future generations will be tech-oriented than to introduce technology and its benefits to children at a young age. Some have recognized this opportunity and established companies that deal with education technology for young children. If you are a job seeker who wishes to be a part of this change, this article can introduce you to awaiting opportunities.
How to Boost Children’s Desire for Knowledge with Technology?
Educational technology for children is usually in the form of games, since that is what interests them. Games for very young children should be unique. Their focus should be on shapes, sounds, music, colors, numbers, letters, hand-eye coordination, movement, and spatial awareness. Additionally, cartoon characters that interact with the children can also be a great learning tool.
Some companies decided to take this direction and create a digital learning content and games for children. Some of the major early childhood learning edugame developers are PBS Kids, Disney, Sesame Street, Spin Master, Toca Boca, and Sago Mini.
In order to depict how successful the right approach in the children’s technology-oriented education can be, let us inform you about some companies in the business and their workflow.
Fingerprint is a company that sells a mobile early childhood learning education platform. It has over 200 developer partners in over 40 countries. Their white-label platform allows major brands to get educational games up and running quickly. Some of the well-known brands that use the Fingerprint platform are Mattel, National Geographic, Toca Boca, Sylvan Learning, Tiny Tap, BabyBus, PBS Kids, and Nickelodeon. By March 2016, they had over 2,000 apps (PDF) for kids on the platform.
Another example is provided by a company called Age of Learning. They are the most successful early childhood learning suppliers and they sell the immensely popular ABCmouse app. Their app consistently ranks in the top best-selling educational apps in over 100 countries in the world. The reason for their success is the content of their product, which provides young learners, their families, and teachers with highly engaging and effective learning activities that build a strong foundation for academic success.
Robot Teachers for Children’s Learning Games
An innovative product on the market is a robot that teaches children. Smart robot Albert was launched in December 2012 by South Korean-base SK Telecom. Albert is “the first kids learning robot that uses a smartphone as its brain to provide interactive games and educational content. Together with its sister model Atti, Albert is designed to make learning easier for children worldwide.” SK Telecom sells the Albert robot bundled with the Smart Robot Coding School training program designed to teach children how to develop software. The product has been sold to schools in South Korea, Spain, France, Brazil, Colombia, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
Another benefit of robot teaching is in helping children with developmental disorders to learn. Children with autism and other developmental disorders often struggle with social skills and that can slow their learning processes. Robots are proving to be effective in teaching life skills and academic subjects to such children. The University of Hertfordshire in the UK developed Kaspar, a robot designed to help autistic children: “Specially designed with a human-like face and the tacit complexities therein, Kaspar helps teach facial expressions and appropriate physical contact, creating a safer learning environment for special needs children.”
Virtual Tutors with Embedded Artificial Intelligence on tThe Market
Artificial Intelligence-based educational products are hitting the market and their design corresponds to the consumer and academic markets. In April 2016, Sesame Street announced a three-year partnership with IBM to develop educational products using IBM‘s artificial intelligence platform Watson. Their aim is to transform the way in which children learn and teachers teach, and they envision that this will have an impact on the lives and education of millions of children.
Jeffrey D. Dunn, CEO of Sesame Workshop stated the following: “We believe that bringing education together with technology is a key to improving early learning in this country and around the world. A generation ago, Sesame Street used the ubiquitous presence of television to reach vulnerable children who did not have access to the learning opportunities that affluent and middle-class kids did. It worked very well. Now, through this collaboration with IBM and Watson, we expect to develop the next generation of tailored learning tools. Ultimately, the goal is to provide children from all socio-economic backgrounds with the opportunity for meaningful, personalized education in their most formative years.”
Children’s Education Technology Platforms
These platforms will give you an insight into what these companies have to offer and which ideas about educational technology for children have proven to be successful.
Kidaptive is an innovative education and technology company dedicated to empowering children, parents, educators, and other key stakeholders through powerful adaptive learning tools. By enabling personalized learning for each child, they aim to increase engagement, optimize learning, and improve outcomes for kids worldwide. Through innovative technology, applied psychometrics, and a learning sciences team anchored by Stanford University, they seek to empower a whole new generation of learners.
Speakaboos is a digital storybook platform that encourages children ages 2 – 6 to read, explore, and discover stories they love based on their interests. They have a custom and ever-growing library which is designed around high-interest categories. The stories feature rich illustrations, animated characters, and touchscreen interactions that bring the stories to life, support comprehension and keep children engaged while learning. Speakaboos can be used on computers, tablets, or mobile devices.
Knowledge Adventure is an American maker of educational software, including the Adiboo and JumpStart series of grade-based and subject-based titles, such as My First Encyclopedia. The company has been making educational games for kids for over two decades. Working with child experts, developmental psychologists, and educators, Knowledge Adventure always thrives to produce games which will be loved by parents and children alike.
Tinkergarten is a technology-enabled network of leaders that brings families together in a natural place in their community for classes where kids learn through play. Each class consists of a group of children and adults who learn together through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. Their goal is to help kids to develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence, and problem-solving.
These European study programs are examples of the type of Bachelor and Master study programs that are desirable when applying for a job in early childhood education technology.
- Uppsala University: Game Design and Graphics (Sweden)
- Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL): Psychology and Education (Belgium)
- Swansea University: Education and Computing (United Kingdom)
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology: Education (Norway)
- Leiden University: Education and Child Studies (The Netherlands)
- University of Gothenburg: Game Design & Technology (Sweden)
- University of Geneva: Advanced Learning and Teaching Technologies (Switzerland)
- University of Leeds: Technology, Education and Learning (United Kingdom)
Job Opportunities Related to Early Childhood Education Technology
With the right combination of education, experience, and a drive to be a part of something revolutionary, you can find your place in this field of business. Besides the will to provide a better future and opportunities for young children, children education technology companies also give a chance to job seekers who are determined enough to make a difference and be a part of their team.
Software Engineer – Mobile
Mobile developer is part of the development team of the iPhone and iPad apps for a certain education technology company. Some of the main requirements are a strong grasp of CS fundamentals, especially in data structures, algorithm design, and programming languages, then having an experience in building successful consumer mobile apps, and working knowledge of back-end technologies required for mobile apps. Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering is desirable.
This person should be highly creative and versatile. He or she has to be able to storyboard games, design game levels, and define goal progression. The game designer will own the overall process from conceiving innovative game play to analyzing real-time feedback and adjust designs accordingly. This role will work in conjunction with artists, developers, and designers to implement and launch new games and levels.
This position is responsible for bringing the products to the market and into the hands of teachers and kids. Also, he or she will work with the engineering and product teams to build tools and experiences for the company’s web and mobile products. Responsibilities include collaborating on the development of the new product for schools as it enters the market and scales up, and implementing web and mobile interfaces.
Outlook On The Development Of Early Childhood Education Technology
There is no doubt that educational games for children are useful. As a matter of fact, their popularity has inspired new innovations such as robot teaching or embedded artificial intelligence. This serves as proof that the market will only see growth in the future. That is why you should follow this path if you are interested in early childhood learning and technology, and become one of the contributors to the shaping of young minds.
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