When it comes to children, languages, and technology, new information is always surfacing. Our team of instructional designers and researchers have spent years—both in the classroom as well as in academia—studying how children learn. In developing Joy School, we have consulted with leading experts in the field from all across the world. Here are some of the exciting findings that have informed our work.
In the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning it is shown that we have two primary channels for processing information: visual and auditory. Digital programs must be designed carefully so we don’t overload these channels. This is a trap that many programs fall into. They want to make the program exciting and engaging. We do too. However, if the engagement elements are extraneous to the learning, it can actually interfere. The brain is trying to attend to too many things.
Research has also guided our design of eBooks. Many e-books simply put the print version of the book on a digital platform without considering things like quality, font, or size. Or, they include a lot of extraneous animations, sound effects, etc. All these detract from comprehension. For a language learner especially, this results in confusion and cognitive overload. However, if a language learner has information that reinforces comprehension, as in Joy School, learning can be significantly accelerated.
Research reveals that when we teach words that are closely related to each other—called a lexical or semantic set— they’re harder for students to learn. Joy School takes advantage of the brain’s innate desire for novelty by teaching non-lexical sets of vocabulary in the cases where it is strategically advantageous, enabling students to learn more effectively.
In the picture on the left, the top row is a lexical set (colors). The second row are categorically diverse, easier to learn.