The National Science Foundation-funded Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2)
at Gallaudet University research center has released the second in a series of three bilingual storybook apps for the iPad, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
The storybook app, based on a classic children's story, offers an attractive bilingual language, learning, and reading experience designed to encourage language acquisition and reading in young children. This iPad app is particularly relevant to the young deaf visual learner.
In February, VL2’s first app, The Baobab
, was selected as the second prize winner of the DEVICE Design Award 2014
- Professional Category.
Digital Journal contacted Melissa Malzkuhn
, Digital Innovation and Media Strategies Manager for VL2, who led the development of the new storybook app, The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Why was this story chosen for the iPad app?
A goal behind our endeavor into developing bilingual storybook apps was that we would choose a variety of stories that represent the wide range of ASL storytelling in different genres. So, we started off with an original story, which was The Baobab. After that, I thought it would be fantastic to do a fable, a classic.
Our deaf children should have access to those classics, as part of their world knowledge.
Who will benefit from this new iPad app?
Deaf children, visual learners, parents of deaf children, and anyone interested in learning ASL. Our target group is deaf children and those who learn visually, but the reaction towards our apps have reached a larger, broader audience who are interested in great stories, especially ASL/English bilingual stories. Deaf children, educators, and parents benefit from a great ASL model in our apps, and our design is based on research. Our apps are the only storybook apps that include fingerspelling - a key factor in bridging ASL and English.
How did you choose Justin Jackerson for the role as story teller?
During the process of selecting our first storyteller for The Baobab, I kept thinking of another talented storyteller, Justin Jackerson. I asked him to send me an “audition” tape of him doing The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Justin has the face, look, and style for it. He’s incredibly talented and when his video got in, we all were completely sold. We got him on board and never looked back.
How successful was the previous app, The Baobab?
We’ve gotten considerable attention, a lot of schools have downloaded The Baobab, and shared their comments with us. The most constant question we get from people in general: “When will the next app come out?” They loved The Baobab and they want to see more. We love the demand. In addition to that, I’m proud to share that we’ve won a Device Design award for the design of The Baobab. It’s worth noting that we are building our apps using the exactly same framework.
Have any VL2 research studies taken place using The Baobab app?
Yes, we are collaborating with the Brain and Language Lab, and a study on eye tracking is currently in effect. The team working on this particular study has spent considerable time designing the eye tracking set up with the app to suit our young children. We envision the study to wrap up by end of summer. We should have results written up in the Fall.
We’ve also been approved to start a study focusing on user characteristics and usage (a more open ended observation) of children using the storybook apps in the classroom. We are starting this in the next few weeks once we establish a schedule. We probably will continue this throughout the Fall.
Will there be more VL2 iPad apps?
We are already in the process developing two more storybook apps and a science-based app. The next genre we are doing is a creative adaption of The Little Engine That Could, in which we were inspired to do The Little Airplane That Could.
So, the third storybook app in this particular series will be The Little Airplane That Could, and we are developing a primer reading app called The Blue Lobster which brings back the same team from The Baobab. In other words, our curious little girl in The Baobab returns, this time on a new adventure.
Again, we use the same code framework to build our apps (the main idea is that we are replacing the assets - text, image, and videos) to create new stories.
Any other future developments taking place at VL2?
Yes, we are setting up a program, “VL2 Storybook Creator”, which is a website portal where anyone can download our code at a to-be-determined fee, and create their own storybook apps.
On their website, Gallaudet provide a list of 15 principles
for reading to deaf children based on the teaching methods used by deaf parents. These principles
were developed to aid hearing parents and teachers of deaf children to help advance their children in language acquisition and reading.