Because a driver is always more attentive than a passenger.
Learning with interactive software has a number of well-known benefits:
Educators will recognize “Bodily-Kinesthetic-Tactile” as one of the Gardner’s 7 Learning Intelligences. When kinesthetic-tactile learning senses or “intelligences” are engaged, students are less distracted. This is particularly helpful because our volunteer students who know their participation isn’t being graded. Thus “interactive” leverages both that learning pathway AND their brain’s ability to focus.
Spatial is another one of Gardner’s 7 Intelligences. Simply put, the eye (brain) is built to pay attention to whatever moves, and the mind focuses on what IT is moving –such as the mouse and keys. Thus, interactive software both attracts the eye to content, and gives hands something to focus on, –all of which aid learning and suppress distractions.
Interacting at the computer stimulates our student’s Interpersonal learning intelligence. We want kids to work together in a more intimate and engaged form of learning, as opposed to sitting back and merely listening.
Interpersonal is another of Gardener’s 7 Intelligences. It is the learning center that is stimulated when we interact with each other, listening, sharing, empathizing.
…there are times when it is very appropriate to PROJECT software on the wall to a group of students. Done it my self many times.
OR…GATHER everyone around one monitor for part or all of the lesson. For simplicity, in this article, we’ll just use the word “projecting”.
Typically, the programs that are better-suited for projecting need less constant navigation and have more of a “present-then-pause” style of content. Our Ten Commandments CD is like this. The navigation is very engaging, but you come to a spot to read/look/listen/discuss. At the other end of the spectrum are games you play by moving through a landscape, or which have lots of input required (such as Kid Pix).
But be advised! Many of our CDs have BOTH types of content! Thus, the following chart is an idea of where the majority of each CD’s content falls in terms of style. And please note: “game” does not mean “less content”! We’re simply talking about the AMOUNT of “hands-on” or play a CD has.
Generally speaking, the more “play” or user input required to play the software, the better suited it is for small groups to use at a computer station, than watching it projected.
Our Abraham and Sarah CD presents you with a menu of story content, gives you rich media, then pauses to present you with discussion questions. But it also has a quiz in it, and lots of interactive clicky-do spots.
Whereas, Let’s Talk CD on the other end of the spectrum, is neither “present-pause” OR game-like. Instead, Let’s Talk and Kid Pix CDs require a lot of personal input from the user, making them more suitable for groups of 2 or 3 to use together.
Several of our CDs, like Elijah and Jonah, and Jesus in Space, – fall in-between. They can easily be projected to large groups, but also have lots of interactive elements to select from.
Our more “game-like” CDs, such as Joseph’s Story and Attack of the Sunday School Zombies, involve lots of steering and finding, then pausing to watch and taking time to respond.
All our 3d style games, such as, Galilee Flyer, are content rich, meaning you can have students take-turn doing the flying in Galilee Flyer, then have everyone help answer the pop-up questions. But if a student does poorly at flying the triplane, the other students may resent it. Yet this wouldn’t happen in the 3d style game, “Bongo Loves the Bible” CD, because Bongo gives you far more “turns” to play than Galilee Flyer. Know Thy Game!
Cherry-picking from our Software for Larger Groups
Quite a few of our customers cherry-pick the multimedia content, videos and songs out of our CDs to show to large groups, such as, in children’s worship. In some cases, you might pick two pieces of media from two software programs that appear to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Say for example, you were talking about following Christ. You could show the music video located in the end of “Five Loaves~Two Fishes” CD (more game-like), and then discuss the music video “Insane Fanat-asy” found in the more “present-then-pause” CD -Abraham and Sarah.
Practical Tips for Projecting Our Software
1. Let the kids take turns helping you navigate. Let everyone know they’ll get a turn.
2. Ask the group “what selection” they’d like the navigator to make. Don’t let the student navigating make all the choices.
3. If you’re using a laptop, have a MOUSE plugged-in for the students. They’re easier to use than a touchpad.
4. Have a good set of computer speakers, not laptop speakers.
5. Don’t be afraid to GO BACK OVER content.
6. Use a laser pen to point things out on the projected program.
7. Make time for the kids to use the program after class.
Neil MacQueen is a Christian educator, Presbyterian minister, and children’s Bible software developer.