Do Educational Apps Actually Help Kids Learn?
Can educational apps really help children learn? It’s a question that has become especially relevant since the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of students were forced by school closures into online learning. Professor James Kim and Ph.D. student Josh Gilbert sampled 36 studies on educational apps to answer this question.
Our meta-analysis sampled 36 studies focusing on educational apps designed to improve math and reading skills in children aged 3 to 9. The findings bring good news: The overall effect of these apps is positive. But before parents and teachers rejoice and hand over tablets to their kids for the entire day, it’s important to note that the average positive effect hides significant variation in app effectiveness. Our study revealed that the effects of the apps ranged from slightly negative to hugely positive. With such a wide range of outcomes, it’s crucial to explore the characteristics of the studies and apps that may explain these differences.