introduction – how to use apps in instruction
There might be an app for everything, but how can apps be used for teaching and learning? It’s easy to wonder if the rush to get into the App Store is more about snapping up the shiniest new fad than about apps as effective learning tools. “Apps” is an abbreviation for application. An app is simply a tiny piece of software. It can run on the Internet, on your computer, or on your phone or other electronic device. The word “app” is a more modern usage, but this is really the same thing as a program like Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat.
Fortunately for educators and learners, most branded apps have moved from the simple “wow” factor to include those that focus on specific skill development. The job of the teacher, as it is with all lesson planning, is to take a step back and asses who their learners are, what are the learning objectives, and how do they communicate that to their learners? Some apps are used to practice a discrete skill or present information just one time. Others are creative apps that a learner may use again and again.
When choosing apps for learning, find out what your learners are actually doing on mobile and other technologies. Choose (and teach them to choose) learning apps based on where they are: iphone, android, tablet, laptop, or PC. It’s a good app if it is relevant to the learning purpose.
The bottom line is what makes an effective app is one that does what you need it to do.
Using and Evaluating Apps in the Classroom
This useful document will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of an App and how it may impact student achievement. Categories include: Curriculum connection, Authenticity, Feedback, Differentiation, User Friendliness, and Student Motivation.
- This is evaluation rubric by Kathleen Schrock has been modified from Harry Walker’s original form, and includes a reporting domain.
- Other App evaluation instruments sit on the iPads for Teaching site. Click here to view them and scroll down to “Information by Others.”