How YogiPlay Rates Mobile Apps

TRANSPARENCY: How do teachers and parents know what apps to use? As schools and parents plunge into the world of apps, guidelines on quality would be handy. Happily there are several emerging. 

On Wednesday, startup YogiPlay released the criteria for its cutely-named "YogiMeter." The YogiMeter, a developmentally-based framework was designed by former director of learning at LeapFrog, Dr. Jim Gray. It aims to assess two main areas: engagement value and education quality. 

Several components contribute to both of those assessments. For instance, to measure the engagement value, YogiMeter assesses the user interactions and experience, as well as the "intrinsically, extrinsically an socially" motivated engagement, Educational quality is measured through assessing the learning engagement; concept breadth & depth; real-life relevance; personalization; reporting data. (Here are more details straight from the source.)

The company so far has rated over 600 apps intended for the 2- to 8-year old set.

Dr. Gray, now YogiPlay's chief learning officer, cautions that calculating these measures isn't an absolute science. Education researchers still butt heads over how to assess what engagement and education really mean. When asked about the major studies his team referenced, he cites research by Stanford's Dr. Dan Schwartz, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, and the LIFE Center. (Check out Dr. Gray's co-authored op-ed in HuffPo for more on his take where learning apps are heading.)

Technicalities and theories aside, the company's goal in explaining how its YogiMeter works is both to create a standard rubric that's (fairly) easy for parents to understand, and to encourage developers to create more quality apps based on clearly articulated guidelines. "If you don't define a standard early on, then reviews and ratings don't work and everyone loses," says co-founder Mr. Cedric Sellin.

With more and more search-and-discovery tools arriving on the scene, it's worth pointing out that other groups are also trying to articulate the rules governing their rating systems. Common Sense Media's guidelines is largely based on age appropriateness and "learning potential," while Kindertown's focuses on "educational strategies" and "user features."

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