Knowledge at their fingertips: kids’ learning and playing in the app age

Main Article Content

Silvia Dini
Lucia Ferlino


Clear signs are emerging of changes in the ways that the current generation of preschoolers learn and play. These changes are closely linked to their familiarity with mobile devices and the availability of digital resources that support learning by exploring, by manipulating and especially by playing. The trigger for this change is the medium, which is based on direct interaction, bringing new opportunities for learning by doing. At the same time, teachers and parents alike are expressing doubts about whether to use mobile applications (apps) early on and how to choose them. Given the novelty of these tools, research has yet to provide answers to these questions. This contribution examines current studies and pedagogical considerations as a basis for formulating a classification of educational apps, for identifying affordances, and for establishing indicators that guide app choice.

Article Details

Articles - General topics


Bach, J. F, Houdé, O., Léna, P., & Tisseron S., (2016). Il bambino e gli schermi. Raccomandazioni per genitori e insegnanti. Milano, Italia: Guerini Scientifica.

Benedetto, R. (2013, Aprile 28). Ma il metodo Montessori avrebbe ammesso i touch screen? Forse sì. Rubrica 27esima ora del Corriere della sera. Retrieved from articolo/generazione-touchscreen-ei- dubbi-dei-genitori-il-tablet-creadipendenza/

Buckler, T. (2012). Is there an app for that? Developing an evaluation rubric for apps for use with adults with special needs? The Journal of BSN Honors Research, 5(1), 19-32.

Budiu, R., & Nielsen, J. (2011). Usability of iPad Apps and Websites. Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from https:// iPad_App_and_Website_Usability_2nd_ Edition.pdf

Carbotti, S. (2015). App per l’infanzia: linee guida per una progettazione efficace. Form@re. Open Journal per la formazione in rete, 15(1), 159-169.

Coughlan, J., & Morar, S. S. (2008). Development of a tool for evaluating multimedia for surgical education. Journal of Surgical Research, 149(1), 94-100.

Dini, S., & Ferlino, L. (2001). Bambini e computer: come cambia il modo di giocare e di imparare, TD Tecnologie Didattiche, 9(2), 31-41.
Dini, S., & Ferlino, L. (2016). App: una grande tecnologia in mani molto piccole., 20(1), 50-56.

Ferreiro, E., & Teberosky, A. (1994). La costruzione della lingua scritta nel bambino. Firenze, Italia: Giunti.

Ferri, P. (2011). Nativi digitali. Milano, Italia: Bruno Mondadori.

Ferri, P. (2014). Dilaga la tecnofobia in Italia: allarme rosso. Agenda Digitale. Retrieved from http://www. 1002_dilaga-la-tecnofobia-initalia- allarme-rosso.htm

Ferri, P. (2016). Ecco perché i nativi digitali sono una realtà (anche se ignoranti). Agenda Digitale. Retrieved from competenze-digitali/ecco-perche-inativi- digitali-sono-una-realta-anchese- ignoranti_2229.htm

Finegan, C., & Austin, N. J. (2002). Developmentally appropriate technology for young children. Information Technology in Childhood Education Annual, 2002(1), 87-102.

Gelman, R. & Gallistel, C.R. (1978). The Child’s Understanding of Number. Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press.

Guernsey, L. (2012). Screen time: How Electronic Media from Baby Videos to Educational Software Affects Your Young Child. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Healy, J.M. (1999). Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think And What We Can Do About It. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Kearney, M., Schuck, S., Burden, K., & Aubusson, P. (2012). Viewing mobile learning from a pedagogical perspective. Research in Learning Technology, 20, 1-17.

Khoo, E. G. L., Merry, R., Nguyen, N. H., Bennett, T., & MacMillan, N. (2015). iPads and Opportunities for Teaching and Learning for Young Children (iPads n Kids). Hamilton, New Zealand: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research.

Kopecký, K., & Hejsek, L. (2015). Mobile touch devices as an effective tool of m-learning and e-learning. Proceedings of INTED 2015, 7934-7936.

Kopecký, K., & Szotkowski, R. (2015). Use of mobile touch devices as part of lifelong learning with specific focus on tablets. Proceedings of ICLEL 2015 - International Conference on Lifelong Education and Leadership, 221-225.

Lee, C-Y., & Cherner, T. S. (2015). A comprehensive evaluation rubric for assessing instructional apps. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 14, 21-53.

Pintrich, P. R. (2003). A motivational science perspective on the role of student motivation in learning and teaching contexts. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(4), 667-686.

POSCON (2014). Checklist & Concrete Criteria for Positive Content. Retrieved from app/download/5794081187/POSCON_ Criteria_for_Positive_Content.pdf

Powell, S. (2014). Choosing iPad Apps with a Purpose: Aligning Skills and Standards. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 47(1), 20-26.

Premkumar, K., Hunter, W., Davison, J., & Jennett, P. (1998). Development and validation of an evaluation tool for multimedia resources in health education. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 50(1), 243-250.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).

Prensky, M. (2013;October 16). Nativi digitali e immigrati digitali #1. La ricerca. Retrieved from http://www. nativi-digitali-e-immigrati-digitali-1.html

Purcell, K., Entner, R., & Henderson, N. (2010). The rise of applications culture. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

Reeves, T. C. (1994). Evaluating what really matters in computer-based education. In M. Wild & D. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), Computer Education: New Perspectives (pp. 219- 246). Perth, Australia: MASTEC.

Reeves, T. C., & Harmon, S. W. (1994). Systematic evaluation procedures for interactive multimedia for education and training. In S. Reisman (Ed.), Multimedia Computing: Preparing for the 21st Century (pp. 472-505). Harrisburg, PA: Idea Group Publishing.

Rosin, H. (2013, April). The Touch-Screen Generation. The Atlantic. Retrieved from archive/2013/04/the-touch-screengeneration/ 309250/

Serra, E. (2012, Ottobre 10). Quei bimbi di 3 anni davanti a tablet e tv. Sezione Scienze del Corriere della Sera. Retrieved from ottobre_10/tablet-tv-farli-usare-ai-figlieta- giusta-serra_f2822b12-129d-11e2- 9375-5d5e6dfabc1a.shtml

Sesame Workshop (2012). Best Practices: Designing Touch Tablet Experiences for Preschoolers. Retrieved from http:// wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Best- Practices-Document-11-26-12.pdf

Spitzer, D. R. (1996). La motivazione: un fattore trascurato nella progettazione didattica. TD Tecnologie Didattiche, 4(3), 38-43.

Squires, D., & Preece, J. (1999). Predicting quality in educational software: Evaluating for learning, usability and the synergy between them. Interacting with Computers, 11(5), 467-483.

Vygotskij, L.S. (2000). Pensiero e linguaggio. Bari, Italia: Laterza.

Walker, H. (2010). Evaluating the effectiveness of apps for mobile devices. Journal of Special Education Technology, 26(4), 59-66.

Wartella, E., Rideout, V., Lauricella, A. R., & Connell, S. L. (2014). Parenting in the age of Digital Technology - A national survey. Center on Media and Human Development School of Communication, Northwestern University. Retrieved from http://cmhd.northwestern. edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ ParentingAgeDigitalTechnology.REVISED. FINAL_.2014.pdf

Wolf, M. (2009). Proust e il calamaro. Storia e scienza del cervello che legge. Milano, Italia: Vita e Pensiero.