Monday, March 18, 2013

Learning by doodling

Okay, I may be setting myself up here for a few educational 'traditionalists' to embark on a tirade of proving that doodling is not an effective learning tool but I'll just take that chance and say, it is. 


Well, thousands of years of human history have shown us that doodling has helped us in our learning as it has helped us to make sense of the world around us. From Cave drawings in France to Leonardo DaVinci's sketches doodling and those little doodles you do during a meeting, doodling is universal and will continue to make an impact for years to come. Which is why I have found the recent Doodle Learning Apps from iOS development team NineTwentyEight to be an intriguing mix of learning and doodling. And before we go on, I was involved in the development of the apps as an Educational Consultant.

Doodle Learning has released three iOS iPad only apps - Doodle Learning Maths, Doodle Learning English and Doodle Learning Times Tables. The apps are aimed at 7-11 year old children but they do contain easier levels which can be used by younger children too. The apps premise is to mix doodling with learning, creating a fun learning environment that children respond to effectively. I used the 3 apps with my class over the last couple of weeks and the response has been fantastic. Children loved using the apps and they found each helped them in improving specific Maths and English skills. 

Breaking down the apps.

The Times Tables app has been a revelation when it comes to helping children consolidate their understanding of times tables. There are plenty of repetition based games and songs to use but this adds doodling to the mix. A firm favourite with every child in my class. 

Each table is available to play and the game involves matching the correct table with its corresponding answer. Add a timer lit by a rabbit that appears every so often during your doodling and you have an idea of the game.

Doodle Learning Maths concentrates on helping the player improve addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and big numbers. The rabbit once again appears during the doodling to remind you to play one of the 350+ mini games and I found children didn't mind the rabbit's appearance and actually wanted to play the maths game without waiting for it to pop up. 

Doodle Learning English does push the learner quite a bit and younger children may find some of the games tricky. The games are based around a command of English grammar and involve plurals, punctuation, comparatives, antonyms, rhyming, spellings (muddles), homophones and synonyms. I found the games really helped children in my class who had been struggling with these grammar points. 

So what did my class think about the apps?
I love the times tables game because it starts off easy and gets harder as you beat each level. I can also choose the times table I need to learn and get better at.
The English games are hard but that's because I need to get better at grammar. I think if I play the games every day I'll get better. Can I use it for homework?
I like the Maths Big Numbers game the best because the questions are hard and I like hard questions.
More on Doodling and Learning

I have never had an issue with doodling in my class and with the release of these apps I can now actively encourage it. For those of you wanting a little more evidence on whether doodling does help improve learning then I recommend watching this great TED talk by Sunni Brown author of GameStorming : A playbook for rule-breakers, innovators and Changemakers.