At the end of 2011, there were approximately one million apps available. From health and lifestyle to zombie hunting, if you can imagine it then there’s an app for it.
So what about the potential for these applications to aid and assist learning? Many have praised their potential to make personal and professional lives that much easier – and that certainly includes the education industry. Educators who hold a flair for technology and a passion for nurturing the minds of their students can easily discover creative ways to incorporate thee-learning and digital classes into their daily teaching routine.
However, some have been critical of the use of educational apps and games in the classroom, citing the fact that in that many of them have been developed by adults in business ventures, perhaps without the functionality actually enjoyed by students in mind.
One education content website, usergeneratededucation.com, has come up with a handy tick list to think about when evaluating the validity of any educational-oriented app:
- Does it have cool graphics and an interesting interface?
- Is there a game-like and/or creative intent to the app?
- Is it fun and entertaining?
- Does it make the user laugh with joy?
- Does it require creativity, ingenuity, imagination, and problem solving in it use?
- Do the tasks get more complicated, requiring more skills as the user works through the game-app?
- Does the user have the opportunity to gain points and level up?
- Does it have an addictive quality (yes, I believe in this) in that it calls for continuous play?
- Does using the app create a state of flow?
- Are there opportunities to connect with other users for socializing? Problem-solving? Strategising?
Some noteworthy apps for iOS and Android include VideoScience (a growing library of over 80 hands-on Science lessons that are great for home and the classroom), Edexcel Past Papers (which allows you to download past papers directly to your mobile device, allowing you to revise anywhere at any time) and Teaching With Technology Video Library (which is a collection of video of actual classrooms, enriched by additional material such as lesson context, teacher handouts and even student work, accessible alongside the video).
If such guidelines are considered when assessing the use of an educational app in the learning sphere, then such technology can be cleverly utilized by the savvy educator to coincide with what students themselves are using and enjoying in their own lives, and combined with the traditional curriculum to foster a dynamic and interesting learning environment.