When I first embarked on this journey, I really just wanted to be able to animate my artwork more easily. Drawings, sculptures, all sorts of cute things that took ages to animate frame by frame. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I simply had to make PuppetMaster.
At its simplest, the app was clearly going to appeal to kids. And I felt okay about this, despite my mixed feelings about kids using apps, because I could see how this was a positive and educational thing for children. I’ve written about that before. Not to have too big a head about it, but I am positive that encouraging kids to be creative is a good thing. As is helping to bridge the gap between physical and digital creativity.
Now let’s talk about target audience age: Initially I was very wary of letting kids use it too young. But after seeing how easily my own daughter takes to my iPhone and iPad, and realizing how unavoidable interaction with these things is going to be in her life, not to mention seeing educators using technology creatively with pre-K students, I realized – there is a place for this, even at such a young age. For students of all ages, it’s not about no screen time, but about what sort of screen time, and – of course – limiting their time with it. I do pride myself in building apps that encourage kids to move around and interact with the physical world, rather than apps that try to maximize the time the child spends sitting and staring at the screen.
So I put my apps on the store. Then I started going around and giving workshops, teaching kids to make cool projects (cool because of their creativity really, not because of my instruction), and animate them in the app. The response has been really eye-opening. People loved it, and parents would ask me if this is educational. Well the truth is, it is somewhat, but it would be much moreso if combined with specific lesson plans. So that’s when a shift started taking place in my mind, and I haven’t written about it much before because I didn’t want to jinx it, but I think it’s time to share with whoever is reading this. (Maybe my Mom?)
Long story short, I’m developing a pilot program of educational apps that guide kids through animated art projects relating to various curriculum topics. This way, they can learn based on creative projects surrounding individual interests, and utilize a combination of physical and digital techniques. After speaking with educators about this, it’s become clear that this multi-disciplinary approach appeals to all different types of learners – visual, tactile, kinesthetic, verbal. I’ll be meeting with teachers in schools in my area and putting together a few examples. I’d like to embed the lessons in the app itself, so that educators and parents can download them and have everything they need to teach kids fun and informative lessons. Kids can collaborate with each other too, share their creations and learn from one another.
So… are we an educational technology company now? I think yes.