Saturday, 29 December 2012

Day 5 iTots #blog12daysxmas

When I blogged on day 2 about some of the initiatives that had been implemented at the time of giving my branch update, I was reminded that, at the time, there were also things in development that have since been implemented; One of these is iTots.

iTots is a program aimed at 3-5 years olds that is designed to show parents some of the educational benefits of using ICT at a young age.  The aim was to demonstrate that technology can be a useful tool for preschool literacy and numeracy, creative play and school readiness.

The program is run using multiple methods of storytelling and interaction, rotating the use of the iPad and a flat screen TV, then individual use of the iPads with specific apps followed by free play. Four modules were created initially:

  • Letters: using interactive apps and books to encourage children to read, spell and write words;
  • Numbers: using apps to learn about pattern recognition, numbers and basic maths;
  • Creating content: demonstrating how apps can be integrated with traditional play;
  • Explore: using apps to explore science.
It would probably come as no surprise that most of the participants owned smart phones and had used apps such as Talking Tom so were at least familiar with this type of technology.

The sessions were first run with no formal marketing, only inhouse promotion and were limited to 9 places (we had 10 iPads).  The next session was included in our service wide marketing collateral.  We then ran another 2 which ended in November.  Its popularity means I am seriously considering running it on an almost continuous basis in 2013, with some minor tweaking to the program.

I do love how libraries are integrating traditional forms of programming with technology.  I am hoping now that iTots will soon be implemented across the library service.


SharonU said...

This year I believe each branch of our library service is getting an iPad. It will be more a tool to get staff used of the technology but we were also thinking of using them in story time sessions or something the community members can loan - a try before you buy.

Would using one iPad in story time be conducive, and if so, how can it be used based on your iTots program? A show and tell? A touch and feel after a story time session?

Or is it worth while trying to look at purchasing more?

Tania said...

Hi Sharon

we also use one iPad to support Storytime sessions on certain occasions - not all the time. This makes it more special when it is used. We've also done this for one off events such as Reading Hour (iStorytime) and NSS this year. We have used it connected to a TV so it was projected more.

We've used the iPad with Storytime in several ways. We have some eBooks that are also in print - we read the print version then use the interactive eBook a couple of times. It does depend on what functionality the eBook has too, because then you can do some songs relating to what is contained in the eBook (for example), then use the eBoook again.

I also had some training developed which was delivered to staff across the service on using technology like this in programming. As well as this, I've had one of my staff develop a set of exercises for staff to work through for familiarisation and troubleshooting. These are nearly complete and ready for roll out.

My aim is to have the iPads used 100% of our opening hours when not being used for programming. Working on a lending policy right now.

I think it is always worthwhile looking at acquiring more :-)

Anonymous said...

I love the name iTots for this program - so cute! And I think breaking the activities down into four groups like that is a wonderful way to make it easy for caregivers to figure out how a certain app can fit into their routine.

Tania said...

Hi Jen, we've now changed to a theme per week, as it was so popular. That's working well. In March, we will be introducing iKids :)