I recently conducted a field test to observe preschoolers using WePlaySmart™, new educational technology developed around developing social emotional skills with a multi-touch table. As a follow up to an earlier observation at this child care center, I had the pleasure of observing the same children using WePlaySmart a second time. Overall I was pleased with the way the children interacted with each other and with the software. I was impressed by their technical skill, their engagement level, and their cooperative and collaborative interactions.
Considering these preschool children had not come into contact with the table in a few weeks, I was very encouraged that they seemed just as excited to be playing on the table as they were the first time I observed them. They dealt with the games and hardware mechanics with ease and confidence. They came together as a group around the table and when participating in the games. This was observed in the following ways:
- The children touched the screen without hesitation with an energy and excitement that showed a strong comfort level. This was evidenced by seeing that they clearly remembered to find their photo and touch “Go” to login. The children showed great improvement in their fine motor skills by moving objects on the screen.
- The children did a much better job completing the game where all players must touch an object at the same time. This activity was the most difficult for them the first time.
- They were more aware and focused on listening to game instructions during their second interaction, but did need some additional guidance from the Teacher-Facilitator.
- The children remembered how to approach the various games, knowing what they needed to do for the different game types.
- There was very good language that arose indicating cooperation and participation in the group. For example, I observed how much they talked during the initial vote game to collaborate and agree on the setting for the rest of the games. This is important because this skill is one that needs much practice by young children. Cooperation and collaboration had improved with far less invasion of personal space and more of a willingness to work together for a common goal.
- Mathematics skills and general knowledge were emerging, and I also saw some good vocabulary use occurring. I heard in-depth conversations and quick connections being made by the group and individually.
- The children remained highly and actively engaged. Very rarely did a child indicate they wanted to stop playing or wanted to do something else but interestingly they never actually left the games completely to do so.
This second round of observations confirmed for me that this is a powerful and engaging product that will create a depth of interaction between children and the unique game content. Our Product Development team’s level of execution on this product was phenomenal, especially when choosing hardware and developing software. We created the program that we set out to create and we did it at a very high level.
My observations pointed to positive signs supporting my hypothesis that appropriate use of this table in the early learning classroom can improve developmental outcome goals, primarily in the social-emotional domain, but additionally in the cognitive domain. An added bonus is that the children are physically active while using WePlaySmart. This addition of physical domain development means that WePlaySmart provides children with a strong experience in all three of the main child development domains.
The full report on this research is available in the white paper regarding the research study we conducted with WePlaySmart.