Planet of the apps

With such a wide selection of educational apps on offer, how can teachers make the right decision? George Burgess, from Gojimo, shares his top tips

List the learning objectives

The first step to take when choosing the right app for your students is to list the learning objectives you want students to achieve. Think about the specific activity, skill or experience you wish to enhance and how an app might fit into that.

Try before you buy

It sounds straightforward enough, but try it out for yourself. Does it offer a number of interactive activities for students? Does it develop other skills in addition to the subject it is teaching? Reach out to the developer. They will often be willing to give teachers a promotional code.

Get a second opinion

It is paramount that educators read app reviews. This is a good indicator of what other people’s experiences with the apps have been, resting assured at the very least that the app loads quickly, doesn’t crash and is user-friendly. It’s worth checking for reviews on websites such as https://www.educationalappstore.com.

If you’ve managed to decide on a shortlist of apps, why not discuss these with other teachers. There are some good support networks on the web, and it can be helpful to ask the Twitter teaching community using the hashtag #EdTechUK.

Ensure apps are age-appropriate

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Different app stores have different classifications and guidelines on age-appropriateness. While it is important to take note of this, you should always do further research. For example, apps which contain certain biology or medical diagrams are often rated as being for older students, when in fact they may still be relevant to younger students.

Look for apps which are inclusive of all students

In any one class there may be students who have special education needs (SEN) or English as an additional language (EAL) which can sometimes mean that they struggle in certain subjects. Moreover, there will be variation in preferred learning styles. Apps that enrich the offline version of an activity, for example, those that encourage students to complete practical tasks alongside what the app is able to teach them, can greatly support these students. 

Look for apps that support independent learning as well as collaboration

Apps that are tailored to individual students make for a more personalised experience. For example, exam preparation apps that suggest study guides and quizzes matched to a student’s needs. 

Apps that facilitate interactive and shared engagement are great at motivating students too. With this in mind, take a look at apps that allow students to compete against one another in subject quizzes.

When used appropriately in a way that’s creative, explorative and allows for authentic learning, educational apps can truly help students develop a range of critical skills, consolidate and expand on what they’re taught in class, and help them to get the best grades they can.

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