Thursday, June 21, 2012

Plants HD

Plants HD was created by Sprout Labs and aims to teach kids all about the plant life cycle. I definitely think we need more apps that tackle this kind of subject area. Multimedia can definitely make learning this material easier and of course, more fun than say a typical text book. The question is, does Plants HD hit the mark? Price: $1.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: Overall, I think Plants HD provides a lot of great information (total flashback to science class for me!). For each stage of the cycle, it provides a lot of text (which can be read aloud), some fun facts, some photos, and a quiz. The "play" part is arranging all the stages in the correct order. Actually, before I move on, here's what the main page looks like: 

My first instinct, and I think any kid's, would be to hit play. But play just means that all the pictures drop down to the bottom and you're to assume that you have to put them back in order. While I think that this is a good activity, it should come after kids have learned all about the stages and should be presented separately, or at least not as the first thing and without any instruction. So points off here for usability.

So back to the content...
So, yes, lots of info - but I don't think it really capitalizes on what it could offer. You can see that there's a lot of text (it keeps scrolling down too!). It'd be sooo much better if it could show a video or a series of pictures that go with the text. There are a lot of new vocabulary here for them, so that really needs to be highlighted somehow. The photos that are provided are usually just examples of whatever stage generally, and don't go along with the text. Given the amount of text, it's important to have some visual that keeps kids engaged in it. Instead, they could just be flipping through the photos or the fun facts at the bottom and not listen to or read the actual text. Up top, you can choose to take the quiz - but not all the information you need to answer the questions are provided in the text. You earn coins, but no scores are kept, and nothing to review for teachers/parents. Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 8 years)

Balance: As mentioned, I think kids could easily not pay attention to the text. I'm not saying that there's too much going on - I like the photos and I like the fun facts. But maybe something could be done about how they access these other sections and what can be added to keep focus on the text and to reinforce their understanding of it. Rating: 3.5/5

Sustainability: I guess I need to view this a little differently as I can see this being used in the classroom as a supplement to the lesson. Still, I think the addition of videos and making the text more engaging would make this app go from oh, something a teacher is making me look at that is more interesting than a text book to something kids really want to use and even ask for. Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: Again, the quiz feature is nice, but there's no review of it, not even a saved score. And, maybe if there were definitions section or vocal highlighted in the text, teachers could more easily relate it back to their lessons. Basically, although I can see this in the classroom (or at home with parents guiding the way), I don't feel like it was designed with that in mind. Rating: 3/5

Total: 13.5 out of 20 - 3 stars

Disclosure: I received this app for free for review purposes.

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