How to engage your students through mobile apps

Paul Swaddle, Co-founder and Chairman of Pocket App, talks immersion in the digital age, and how teachers can use tech to their advantage

As youngsters up and down the country prepare for school this September, education technology continues to be an extremely hot topic, and mobile apps are proving to be a perfect solution for teachers hoping to enhance their classroom experience. Mobile apps can not only help teachers, but also students and their parents. Here are five ways teachers can use apps to engage their students.

1. Improve in-classroom communication

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are changing the way students communicate with each other. Many students also use social media to collaborate on group projects and organise activities. Apps can be great tools for announcing updates and information to students in a timely manner. Apps can also be used to foster communication between students through chat, forums, and other features that build on in-person conversation. They’re a great option to provide students with the most up-to-date information on their performance and help them understand how to improve without having to rely on office hours.

2. Go paperless

Apps are the perfect way to achieve a paperless classroom. Once the transition is made, the efficiencies that come along with it are endless. Tools like Microsoft OneNote and Google Apps for education help keep teachers organised and have several built-in tools such as lesson plan templates, note-taking options and more. Apps such as Google Drive and Dropbox allow for an organised storage system that eliminates physical filing cabinets. 

3. Implement hands-on learning

There are several apps that are made for in-classroom experiences. Digital whiteboards are replacing traditional whiteboards and are enabling students to have a more interactive learning experience. Industry standard for school whiteboards is Notebook. The app offers to distribute pages or new sections to students in a class quickly and easily, also sequentially review student work (for example, assignments or quizzes) as well as allowing easy navigation and browsing student notebooks through a student list. Other apps such as Doceri allow teachers to flip back and forth through PowerPoints, whiteboards and screen casts, providing students with an integrated lesson flow. Real-time collaboration features of integrated solutions such as Google Apps for Education allow students to directly contribute to a project and see the impact of their work. Chat apps such as Skype and Google Hangout also allow students to personally connect with each other and also connect with those they might not have had access to in the past. 

4. Connect and share resources

Teachers learn the most from other educators. It’s extremely valuable to hear about other teachers’ experiences first-hand. Teachers Pay Teachers has an app where teachers from all around the world share resources, including everything from lesson plans to classroom activities and decorations. 

5. Keep connected with parents

More educational technology apps are now being developed to keep parents in the loop. Simple tasks such as push notifications, requests for signatures, and record-keeping can be accomplished with mobile apps. Apps such as BuzzMob are a good place to start. BuzzMob is a cross-platform communication tool that connects and engages classroom and school communities. It offers teachers the simplest, most effective way to send vital updates and semi-personal messages to parents and students. BuzzMob also allows teachers and school administrators to create updates and messages in one simple place (via web or mobile app), and parents and students can choose to receive communication via web, mobile app, email, or SMS. These apps not only keep parents informed but also enable them to directly contact teachers.

At Pocket App, we believe mobile apps are the next wave of educational tools and have many use cases for any classroom. With all kids growing up in a digital age, the time is right to implement a fully integrated way of learning and apps offer educational establishments and parents a major opportunity to move with the times. Whether you build your own or use ones that are already available, apps are sure to improve the teacher and student experience.