Today we are talking with Andy and Arlene of iHomeEducator (based in California), developer of the iLive series of apps.

Editor’s Choice: iHomeEducator

by MOMS WITH APPS on MARCH 19, 2011

Welcome to Editor’s Choice, a new series of developer interviews to highlight people who are making significant contributions in the world of family-friendly apps. Today we are talking with Andy and Arlene of iHomeEducator (based in California), developer of the iLive series of apps. Over the past year, I’ve personally witnessed this family-based team at iHomeEducator produce an entire library of educational apps. What started as iLiveMath Animals of Africa, grew to themes covering oceans, botany, trains, spelling, grammar, and history. Their unique position as a homeschooling family creating apps together gives them a unique, hands-on vantage point about how to weave learning concepts into apps. It’s fascinating to see their subjects expand into a set of mobile curriculum supplements. Let’s learn more about what makes them tick…

In your opinion, what makes an app “educational”?

As parent educators we wanted to leverage technology to help determine where our children needed work through automatically generated tests and grades… with engaging cross-curricular exercises. We did not want our kids to “guess” at answers, we wanted them to really work for the answer, and we required an automatic answer key to make grading easier in our busy lives. We also wanted to leverage our field trips as teaching opportunities…

Education for us is living… We live our lives taking our kids to the zoo, train museum, aquarium, state fair, or the air show. My youngest Pre-K loves trains and our 1st grade daughter loves giraffes. We had the opportunity to go whale watching as a family and saw humpbacks coming for our boat… an amazing memorable experience. How do we use these trips to teach and make the memories last beyond just the day’s events?

So as home educators we had another problem to solve. Our oldest in middle school was struggling with the “dreaded” math word problems. And as parents we wanted to help build her confidence through the engaging themes of life. We asked her one day to brainstorm ideas with a stack of post-its and that evening she had ~30 ideas, ranked and rated… she became our Product Manager and that was the beginning of “iLiveMath” (pronounced like “I live here.”… the thought was we live math in everyday things… the zoo.. the aquarium… etc…). Then came iLiveGrammar and iLiveSpelling which also focused on the cross-curricular aspects of teaching. All try to blend photos, videos, and problems around a theme which helps to engage students with different interests. Since we have a Pre-K, 1st grader, and 7th grader we also designed the apps to span grades so the apps can be leveraged as they grow by changing the level setting. So we designed and developed all these features into the iLive series over time.

What is the most exciting part about being **a family** who develops apps?

It’s all in the family:

  • Arlene is our Chief Mom and California Credential Teacher who instructs and directs.
  • I’m (Andy) the Chief Innovator, now focused full-time on educational app design, development and publishing.
  • Our middle school Product Manager comes up with the ideas, “Dad can you build this?”.
  • Our first grader is our Quality Manager, “Dad can I help test?”.
  • Our Pre-K is the Program Manager, “Dad where is my app?”.
Since we are in a public charter school that personalizes learning through independent study we have the ability to teach our kids daily. And through this when we see a gap in the curriculum we try to supplement it with an app. If we cannot find an app we build it.

Where do you see your apps one year from now?

We are continuing to improve and build upon our iLive series to complete the iLiveGrammar and iLiveSpelling series as well as adding user requirements to the iLiveMath.

Furthermore what is exciting is we are working with partners like Knowledge Quest, Inc. to come up with apps in history and geography. The “Wonders of Old Ancient Timeline” is the first in a series of timeline apps which is a primary and secondary level history resource. We are pleased to announce “Ancient China to the Great Wall and Beyond” which is a timeline of the Chinese Dynasties and excerpts from the book by Zeezok Publishing.

We’ve also partnered with other educational content publishers to design, develop, and publish more subjects to be announced. Join our Facebook page to get the latest previews:

What is your proudest achievement in terms of app development?

Watching our kids actively learn everyday.

If you are curious to learn more about the apps from iHomeEducator, here is a summary, all available for iPhone and iPad on the iTunes App Store:

  • iLiveMath Series (1st through 6th grade)
  • iLiveGrammar Series (1st through 6th grade)
  • iLiveSpelling Mammals (K through 2nd grade)
  • Wonders of Old Ancient Timeline (Primary and Secondary level history reference)
  • Ancient China to the Great Wall and Beyond (Primary and Secondary level history reference) – to be released

Read the original article here.

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