In the digital age, it seems like we are always looking for the latest and greatest of tech to use in the classroom. Many a night, I’ve found myself scrolling through the App Store, other Blogs, and Twitter, trying to something new to engage my students….and after a few short minutes, I find myself overwhelmed by all the choices! Which tool? Which developer? Is it worth the extra $3 for the paid version???
Technology for the sake of using technology will not truly benefit your students’ learning. There needs to be some authentic way the tool ties back to the curriculum or it’s not worth your time.
We all want something shiny and new, but for an app to be worth my time and money, I need to be sure it has learning value. I’m sure I’m not alone in this quest, so I wanted to share with you the questions I ask every time I find a new app. Some of these are my own preference, others are things that should be a must anytime you’re using tech with students. Thanks to my Masters Program at the American College of Education, I have become MUCH more aware of ways to keep my students safe online and now make that a priority before downloading.
1. What learning goals will the app help accomplish? – I say it all the time…Technology for the sake of using technology will not produce any significant change. There needs to be some authentic way it ties back to the curriculum or it’s not worth your time. And to me, the more ways I can use that one app, the more valuable it is. (Check out my post on Pic Collage to see what I’m talking about!) Preferably, I want an app that can be used across more than one subject area. If I’m going to take the time to teach my students how to use something, I want to be sure we’re in it for the long haul!
3. Is it free? – Because when it comes to apps, free is for me! Just keep an eye on the ad content and in-app purchases in those free versions. I typically turn off in-app purchases from the iPad settings menu, just to be safe. ?
4. Is it multi-platform? – My classroom has a combination of iPads and laptops so I like when an app can be used on more than one kind of device. This also makes it easier to share apps with parents because they have a wide-range of tech available as well. This one isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for me, but it is definitely a consideration.
So there you have it! 4 simple questions to help you sift through the jungle of educational apps out there. This process isn’t fool-proof, but it will definitely help you narrow down your choices to find something just right for your learning goals and for your students.
Check out some of my favorite apps and tools on my Tech Tools I Love page! I also put together these handouts of great apps at home for parents at a recent PTA Meeting. Just click the image below. Feel free to download and share with your families too!
Have an app to add to the list above? Comment below! I’d love to hear what works for you too.