Teachers plan their school day around the curriculum and they will need apps that will fit the educational context. They are looking for apps that will enhance student engagement, improve their productivity and help measure their improvement. Both teachers and students will have to find a way of determining if the apps they are using or are interested in using fit the learning environment or train certain skills.
Using tablets in schools will mean that teachers will control what apps are installed and what type of content will be accessible for students. Educators will either pre-install the apps or direct children to download the relevant ones before a lesson. Going through the app stores of all major services, checking endless lists of ‘top apps’ or asking for recommendations makes the entire process of searching for apps very time consuming.
In most of the cases teachers will end up with a big collection of apps that will have to be tested before they are adopted in the classroom. We believe that the safest source of acquiring apps is to check curated websites for apps in education, like the Educational App Store (EAS), where you can find reliable information, apps that are reviewed by educators and organized by subject, age and relevance to the curriculum.
The best advice is to use only apps that have been reviewed against a set of criteria, and we think it is useful for teachers to have a checklist that will simplify how they can assess the effectiveness of an educational app and how it impacts learning.
Guidelines we recommend to take into consideration:
A strong association with learning outcomes (whether curriculum or skill based)
Interactivity with the learner via correction and feedback on any questions that are set.
An ease of use of the app so that the learner does not need any guidance and teach one’s self if necessary.
A variety of levels in the app so that learners can progress and different levels of learning within the same age-group can be taken into account.
The ability to collaborate on work with others and co-create.
Motivation for learners to go beyond the apps and find more information on the subject at hand.
The impetus to engage learners and hold their attention to fulfil learning objectives.
Clear pricing, no in-app purchases and privacy controls.
Good quality, design and sound features.
Content without errors in subject matter and/or spelling.
Teachers need to look for apps that meet their educational standards and not by how many times they’ve been downloaded. A teacher’s approach to rate apps must be logical and methodical in order to provide a clear view of where an app fits in with the curriculum or what skills it identifies and helps practise.
The best educational apps will cover aspects that include but are not limited to the overall accuracy of the educational content, appropriate age rating, degree of correction, privacy features and technical aspects.
At the EAS we also focus our attention on selecting the best apps for teaching and learning. How do we do it? We use a Rubric as an evaluation tool for measuring, from an educational perspective, the standard of performance for each app we assess.