A new feature released Tuesday from children's app maker Kidaptive lets parents track the progress of what their children are learning inside the company's first story and game application.
Leo's Pad has been out for a year, releasing episodic short story and game content it calls 'appisodes' (as it's based on a freemium pricing model of between £1.99/$2.99 and £2.99/$4.99 per episode). The new parental layer shows a control panel broken out by child, and breaks down which areas children are struggling with and what new things they've learned. It also gives tips on how to increase colour recognition, for example, and cites research for each recommendation.
The company's founders have a varied background in comic book writing, education and 3D animation, which helped create an app that children's-application watchers say sets it apart.
"It's probably one of the most well-crafted apps I've seen in terms of its quasi-movie-level quality," said Iwan Streichenberger, the CEO of inBloom, the Gates Foundation's education nonprofit.
Educators have seen a rise in apps like Leo's Pad, aimed at teaching children in the adaptive learning style. Adaptive learning in applications means that the difficulty of each step inside the game is tailored to how the child did in the task before it.
"We're kind of at a cowboy stage for this kind of content," said James Gee, a professor in education at Arizona State University. "There will come a day when there's a lot of curriculum for iPads but we're kind of at a land rush at the moment."
Similar apps are already being used in classrooms, where teachers can track students' progress. Competitor Dreambox Learning is based in Washington state, where its app was first brought into classrooms.
"I think that in a matter of a few years, blended learning with apps is going to be so ubiquitous that people are going to expect this technology to have a place in the classroom," said Dreambox CEO Jessie Wooley-Wilson.
Leo's Pad aims to eventually be used in the classroom too. It is currently out only on iOS with a target audience of 3- to 5-year-olds. There are three appisodes out now, while the founders intend to make 25.