Are iPads the future of education?
Well, maybe not. But there's no denying that "abc PocketPhonics" is an amazing app. A universal app—it works with both iPhone and iPad—PocketPhonics teaches the basics of reading and writing to young kids. Most surprising? It seems to work.
With reading, the app uses the "synthetic phonics" method supported by US, UK, and Australian governments. Kids are first taught letter sounds (instead of the names of the letters), including hybrid sounds such as "ch" and "sh." US and UK pronunciations are both included, so you don't have to worry about your kid picking up the "wrong" accent. (Darn!)
And for writing, the app demonstrates how to draw the letters, instead of just presenting pictures. Kids can then trace the letters' outlines on the iPad or iPhone using their finger. If you chose, the app will then grade their accuracy. I can see this being very useful for young learners especially—tracing with a finger is infinitely easier than using a pencil. Cursive and print alphabets are both included.
Finally, PocketPhonics rounds out its offering with a sound-based word "spelling game," which includes over 170 words with accompanying pictures. There's also a "ParentZone" area where parents can tweak the app's settings.
Oh, and it's only $0.99.
While I doubt that a single app will ever be able to replace real-life teaching, abc PocketPhonics certainly looks like a competent, comprehensive app. It won't teach letter names, but it can get pre-readers "hooked on phonics."
You do remember those old commercials, right? Don't you?