What Do Teachers Want in Apps for Education?

[ 0 ] August 15, 2010 |

In the area of digital learning, what is it that teachers want in apps?  What functionality would teachers find useful?  The team at IEAR.org (I Education Apps Review) summarized the thoughts from their community and narrowed down the wants and needs of teachers to eight key items:

Educators are clamoring for the following types of apps:

  1. Teachers want apps that teachers can input their own “curriculum” into the app in some fashion.  The majority of apps are locked down with regard to content and they can not be manipulated enough to meet the teacher’s specific needs.
  2. Teachers want the ability to pull “data” from the apps in some fashion.  They want to see progress, chart trends, or see areas of need that the students might have. The trick is to make sure that data that gets pulled is easily manipulated by well known tools already in existant as they don’t want a new format to have to convert in some fashion. 
  3. Educational apps in general are too focused on “drill and practice” and there needs to be a greater emphasis upon “constructivist” types of activities.  Additionally, there needs to be a convenient way to port over content that is created on these devices to other devices.
  4. The greatest area of need for a creative app would be in the form of “programming”.  For whatever reason, Apple has disallowed apps that have functionality like MIT’s application “Scratch”.  Apps like a “Scratch” app would allow students to learn the foundations of programming by scaffolding the ideas and techniques in grade appropriate ways.
  5. There is a growing trend for apps to allow multiple mobile learning devices to work in conjunction. This needs to continue.  For example, teachers want to use a central app on their mobile device such as an iPad that allows them to connect with students individually on their mobile learning devices.  The trick is that these applications need to connect seamlessly without a need to troubleshoot the connection regularly.
  6. Teachers want to feel in control of their students “freedom” to provide a safe and secure learning environment.  Teachers would like to provide more access and allow their students to learn independently more but within a “safe and guarded” environment as well.  
  7. Apps need to continue to be developed that allow students and teachers to access their cloud computing resources. Specifically, Google Education Apps are making a big impact in schools and yet mobile learning devices struggle with accessing that information effectively and efficiently.As new initiatives come online, they need to work well with multiple platforms.
  8. Finally, teachers and district technology coordinators need better systems in place to control school owned mobile learning technology from a management standpoint.  LanSchool has an Edapp initative that has been rolled out but it is still early. Additionally, Apple themselves are trying to clean up the educational volume licensing but at first glance, there are more questions than answers at this point.   

If you are a teacher or in the field of education, we’d love to hear what you would like to see in an app.  You can also consider becoming an app review at IEAR.org and help others in education select the right app and programmers hone apps to meet the needs of the market.

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Category: Higher Education, iPhone App, K-12, Mobile, Pre-K

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