The portmanteau ‘edutainment’ is apparently a card carrying member of the Merriam-Webster dictionary. This came as news to me, but it is in fact the perfect summation of Planet Factory Interactive’s new educational software ‘Make it for Teachers and School‘, developed for iPad. With a striking number of customisations and options available, ‘Make it’ attempts to tackle that most elusive of Holy Grails – making teaching fun. But does it pass or fail?
In fairness to them, it must be hard for teachers to remain interesting day in day out, year in year out. Same dusty textbooks, same dull poems, same key facts. Different faces, same blank expressions. The method of imparting information to students doesn’t change. With a healthy injection of creativity and invention, ‘Make it’ seeks to change that. The engine of the app is customisation. Teachers, parents and students are able to personalise the lessons to suit their own needs, selecting from a wide range of colours, templates, sounds, videos and text. If you want to get really particular, you can even add your own sounds to your database.
The lessons or activities that ’Make it’ contains are varied. You can create quizzes, match-the-object, drawing games, slideshows, even narratives; the app has a cool storyteller feature specifically designed for developing kids’ narrative skills. This is a neat little addition for an area of development which is too often overlooked. After selecting a type of content, the app will generate a basic template which you can adapt to suit your needs, or even just personal taste if you’re that way inclined. Once you’ve created your lesson and customised it to your satisfaction, you can share it with whomever you choose via email, social media or the cloud. A handy feature here is that, although the app is strictly iPad, once sent, the lessons can be opened on any device and in any language, making them instantly and easily accessible for the receivers.
The interface is bright, colourful and minimalist, which is exactly the right approach for an app that seeks to appeal to a wide age bracket. At $4.99, you really get value for money here. ‘Make it’ builds on a unique idea and delivers. For teachers, the potential for furthering their students’ development in a cool, engaging way should be a major draw. The less enthusiastic ones, bludgeoned to almost fanatical indifference by years of repetition, might even be able to engage themselves at the same time. For families and students, the app provides a dynamic change to the usual grind, one that should be enjoyed by all ages. Edutainment indeed. Pass with flying colours.