Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background for those outside the UK who may be unfamiliar with your work?
Justin Fletcher is without doubt the nations favorite pre-school presenter. He has been entertaining children for over 20 years. He is probably best known for the series Something Special. It is the only UK programme aimed specifically at children with Learning and communication difficulties. It introduces the hugely popular character, Mr Tumble – played by Justin and loved by all children.
I was the creator of Something Special and now the series of apps, Justin's World. I was a school teacher and an educational broadcaster at the BBC for over 20 years. I recently left the BBC to set up a new company.
Why did you decide to enter the world of app development?
Justin and I thought the time was right to move Justin and his characters into new technology therefore giving children to have access to Justin at any time during the day.
Tell us a little more about the Justin's World apps and your objective in producing them.
To date we have produced 4 apps. We have another 10 in various stages of development. Our strap line is "laugh while you learn." All our apps are hugely entertaining, relevant to the lives of our audience and have a strong educational foundation. As an ex-teacher, I have worked along side a range of curricular content and educational consultants to ensure the content is both appropriate and differentiated to maximize learning.
Have you been pleased with the reception your apps have received so far?
Absolutely. The apps are doing well, but has been most rewarding is the positive feedback we receive from parents, teachers but most of all children
Is there one app that you're especially proud of?
I guess it would have to be Goldilocks as this was our first. It is incredibly rich, with beautiful illustrations and includes a wide range of learning activities. Also it really showcases Justin's skill as a first rate children's entertainer. Oh and yes it's funny!
We hear more and more about the rise of the so called "iToddlers" - the generation growing up with mobile technology as a part of their everyday life. How important do you think it is to the modern child's development to have early access to technology?
Mobile technology has a vital role to play in children's education and development. It is immediate, fun, can teach the grammar of subjects in a way that linear content can't. The learning can be personalized and well as progressive. But like everything in life there has to be balance. It is important to know when to turn the device off and apply more traditional approaches to learning
How important was it for you to ensure your apps were in line with the Early Years framework?
It was vital. For hours I sat writing the content with one eye on the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. Also I employed educational consultants for that extra guarantee that we were on target.
In general, how important do you feel the use of mobile technology is to the modern educator?
As mentioned, apps can personalize the learning as well as teaching the grammar and detail of a subject area to ensure the child fully understands before moving on. The cause and effect element of "do something and get instant feedback" can't be underestimated as well. What's more children are motivated to engage and try things out, which has to be a huge benefit.
What's next for Justin's World apps? Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
Yes. We are creating content to teach and re-enforce The Alphabet, CVC words, Basic maths, a compendium of games and activities and so the list goes on. Watch this space!
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Allan. We look forward to hearing about the future apps from Justin's World.
To find out more about the Justin's World apps, visit the official site here.
FACETIME: Allan Johnston
We were incredibly fortunate to recently speak with multi-award winning producer Allan Johnston about his work with Justin Fletcher MBE on their new range of apps - Justin's World. Alongside the interview, which you can find below, Allan was gracious enough to provide us with a fantastic behind the scenes video that not only let's you see what went into the production of the apps but also gives some amazing insight from Allan and Justin themselves! Take a look: