Apps in the Classroom: How do you know which ones to use?

On the internet there are hundreds of articles reviewing iPad, iPhone, and Android apps that can be used in the classroom on mobile devices.  Some reviews tout how amazing and life-changing some apps are for the classroom and others reveal that certain apps just don’t live up to the hype.

But is there any way you can weed through apps on the App Store or the Android Marketplace/Google Play?  How can you evaluate apps for yourself?

According to the Texas Computer Education Association, apps should:

• be easy to use
• be easy to understand
• have no/few ads
• be subject-intensive
• connect to the classroom units of inquiry
• differentiate for users, accommodating the many ways students learn
• have skills and approaches that are real world
• require higher order thinking–which according to Bloom’s includes creating, evaluating, analyzing

But if you are more of a rubric person (after all, most teachers are…), Edudemic provides a list that works quite well if you copy and paste it into a Google Doc.

Overview of the App

  • App Title:
  • App Publisher/Developer:
  • Version:
  • Link to App Store:

Curriculum Compliance

  • Yes/ No – Is it relevant to the curriculum framework?
  • Please add any additional comments regarding implementation.

Operational

  • Yes/ No – Is navigation easy? For example, index, contents, menus, clear icons
  • Yes/ No – Is on-screen help and/or tutorial available?
  • Yes/ No – Does it have multiple ability levels?
  • Yes/ No – How does it respond to errors? For example, incorrect spelling.
  • Yes/ No – Are there audio/video options with controls?
  • Yes/ No – Can selected material be tagged, copied, pasted, saved, and printed?
  • Yes/ No – Does it keep a history of the user’s work over a period of time?
  • Yes/ No – Features that address special needs? E.g. physical, aural, visual, ESL.
  • Yes/ No – What support materials are included? For example, online resources, booklet, lesson plans, student worksheets?

Pedagogy

  • Yes/ No – Does the material accommodate diverse ways in which students learn?
  • Yes/ No – Is it developmentally and age appropriate?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity to increase students’ understanding?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity for higher order thinking?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity for engagement and interaction?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide opportunity for collaborative practice & idea sharing?
  • Yes/ No – Does it promote creativity and imagination?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide an opportunity for problem solving?
  • Yes/ No – Does it provide feedback and assessment?

Need a bit more formalized rubric?  Kathy Schrock has a iPad App Evaluation rubric in PDF form you can download and use.

These three guides came from an article, “Friday Five: Top 5 iPad Apps for Your Classroom,” written by Jacqui Murray for TeachHub.com.  Using these guides, she recommends the following 5 apps: Babakus, GarageBand, Educreations Interactive Whiteboard,Google Earth, andTimed Test Arcade for iPhone. Read Murray’s article for her rationales.

 

Murray, Jacqui. “”Friday Five: Top 5 iPad Apps for Your Classroom.”  TeachHub.com.  Web.