Many programs for children
encourage free exploration; they seek
to foster motivation by allowing learners the freedom to discover, to
pursue personal interests, inclinations and curiosity. A common way
this is achieved is by presenting program structure metaphorically to
resemble physical environments that children are familiar with, be they
natural (the countryside, the woods, the beach etc.) or man-made (towns,
buildings, the home, rooms, etc.). These environments often play a dual
function: they provide the setting
for the presentation of target vocabulary items, and at the same time
represent the means of navigating the program via (disguised) icons
that are the gateway to learning activities.
Zak's Word Games (Longman/Pearson):
one of several virtual worlds that offer the chance to explore
vocabulary (by clicking on objects) as well as the means to
access learning activities (by clicking on disguised icons).
A Scuola con Adibù -
Main menu displaying activity areas and tools.
The program is designed for free exploration: no explicit learning
itinerary is presented.
Having chosen a destination to visit, the learner accesses activities
by entering one of the platform houses.
By contrast, some programs
seek to maximise the effectiveness of interaction by guiding the learner
along a specific learning path. In a few cases this guidance is total,
i.e. the learner is presented with a single pre-set path to follow,
in the manner of a tutorial. More commonly, an "ideal" path
is suggested (e.g. an itinerary or a numbered sequence of activities)
but the learner is free to choose whether to follow this route or not.
In some cases, guided learning
paths that meet the specific needs of individual learners can be created
by the teacher using personalisation tools.
Let's Go (Dyned):
A structured itinerary comprising a numbered sequence of activities
that is presented in the familiar style of a board game.
Q Steps (Q Group):
The main menu is presented as a path linking different buildings
(sub-menus), each corresponding to a different theme/content
area. This default learning itinerary is structured but the
learner can move freely from one area to another.
Oxford Reading Tree -
Talking Stories (OUP): teacher control panel for creating
individual learning paths and activity settings.
The table below shows the
different types of learning path proposed by each program.
1- The program proposes
a narrative divided into five episodes (units) designed to be tackled
programs propose a choice of topics, each of which corresponds to a
pre-set leaning path. The choice of topic can also be personalised by
3- The program proposes
a tutorial-style sequence of learning activities, coupled with some
optional games and exercises.