What I truly enjoy about talking to educators about Punflay is the common perception they have of the quality of apps Punflay releases. Frog dissection, as one of the star Punflay apps, really sets the tone for this company’s dedication to creating highly effective and detailed apps with significant value for education. I was able to share the app Rat Dissection with the audience, and talked about not only the value of this to the classroom setting in schools that may not have access to a full science lab, but also to distance learning students, or students away from the classroom who would otherwise not have the ability to interact with a live lab. Rather than simply watching a video, the app allows for fantastic process-driven learning by walking though how it does happen in a lab.
I also showcased, as an example for younger children, the app Kandy Fish, focused on color recognition, patterns, shapes and coloring. This app is fantastic for providing students with practice for fine motor skills and in developing a sense of listening to instruction and then acting upon it. The fish are colorful, engaging and designed with very polished graphics. This is indicative of the whole suite of Punflay apps that are exceptionally designed and polished. Kandy Fish has an effective age range from toddler up to pre-K, allowing children to gain experience or learn these concepts as they grow and develop.
But with these two very different apps, how do they fit into some of the frameworks of educational theory that we commonly associate with educational technology? In the presentation for Punflay I looked at Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and the ISTE NETS for Students. I challenged educators to put these apps to the test and see what kind of learning we could expect with them. Some of the suggestions were quite good, including that the self-discovery in Rat Dissection as a distance learning tool might lead a student to the Analysing level in the taxonomy, not too bad for an app used independently. In addition, we may argue that Kandy Fish might at least reach the applying level, as a child understands the task and applies it to previous knowledge. In terms of ISTE standards, we can argue that the “Technology Operations and Concepts” and “Critical Thinking” sections might be the most applicable to these apps.
However, I am never a proponent of students using apps in isolation whenever possible. If these apps are used in conjunction with effective guidance and scaffolding, the teachers in my session were able to think of ways that the apps could fit in to higher levels of thinking. For example, one teacher suggested that the Rat Dissection app might function effectively as a summative activity showing the placement of various biological systems in mammals after students learned the function of those systems inside the body.
As with many apps at a conference about mobile devices, Punflay’s suite of apps are dependent upon what teachers do with them in the classroom. What Punflay has proven over and over again is that it is possible to create highly polished tools at an educationally appropriate price that allow teachers to pair their innovation with pedagogical effectiveness.
You may want to take a look at them for yourself.
eMantras, the parent company of Punflay, also has a well polished Learning Management System called Mobl21. The key advantage of this system versus many of the free platforms available is the ability to assign students work in section, units or packages. These partitioned groups of resources are then downloaded by students in groups on the devices of their choice (Mobl21 supports iOS and Android) and the content is available when students are both on and offline. This solution is perfect for students going on holiday, as they will have access to school work while they are away. As the students complete a network, the system sends it back for assessment and/or grading. While there is much more to say about the Mobl 21 platform, a brief outline of the features, functions and benefits is in the presentation I have shared with this post.
So what does this platform offer by way of educational benefit? I think one could argue that providing students greater autonomy in their learning by mobilizing the platform could have significant benefit for students who take advantage of it. In terms of students who are not highly motivated, this is a tool that can be used by educational support staff in conjunction with your classroom to ‘catch’ a student up. The quiz, flashcard and multimedia functionality allow for mini lessons, tutorials and socially connected feedback with the teacher. In this way, Mobl21 offers a ‘classroom outside the classroom’ setup when the regular classroom is unavailable.
At the conference, I received and solicited significant feedback on the Punflay and Mobl21 apps, though asking for feedback was hardly necessary. As soon as the Punflay name was mentioned, teachers familiar with technology knew the company and the apps that they produced. Educators would name their favorites, explain how they had used this app or another to explain a concept, and many would ask what was ‘new’ because they wanted to make sure their library was up-to-date. If you are trying to find apps that have benefit for your students, I recommend that you head to the app store and search emantras, then decide which apps fit best with your program and educational needs!