Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Apps for the iPad

As more and more schools invest in iPads I'm often asked for suggestions for apps to start with.

I generally start by giving people my take on app selection which you can also find on my website:

As I write this there are half a million apps available in the App store. With limited funds, how do you choose the best apps for your students?

Here are the guidelines I use:

Match content to the student, not the student to the content
There are heaps of educational apps with pre-loaded content available. While these seem fantastic for their ease of use, they rarely have just the right content that you are seeking for your students. I look for apps that allow me to add my own content. While this is initially more time consuming, it ensures I'm confident that the activities are pitched at my students points of need.

Look for opportunities to create rather than just consume
Creating is a higher order thinking skill. While there is always a place for apps that support students in remembering and understanding content, it is when we move up Blooms Taxonomy to applying, analysing, evaluating and creating that we really build student capacity.

Seek flexibility of use

We all work within limited budgets in schools and while apps are not particularly expensive, the costs do begin to mount up. Look for apps that can be used in different ways across the curriculum to get the best bang for your buck.

The best tool for the job

My goal is to create a digitally enabled classroom rather than a digitally focused classroom. When looking at any digital tools, you need to ask yourself is this the best tool for this job? Don't get caught up in using digital tools just because they are there, if the best tool for the job is a pencil then use a pencil.

I'll then recommend different reflection tools for selecting apps such as those listed at the bottom of this page on my website and I'll encourage people to use a few apps really well rather than becoming an appaholic, constantly seeking the next new bright shiny thing.

While this provides a good overview, new users tell me they still need some apps to start them off. So despite some concerns about how quickly things change and move on, my good friend Jenny and I created these little leaflets to match some beginning apps with the ICT Competence general capability in the Australian Curriculum.

These apps are suggestions only, there is no need to get them all - just choose the ones that best suit your purpose. Beyond this, you can find out about different apps via Twitter hashtags like #slide2learn and #ipaded, through blogs and through sites that curate education apps such as Appitic.

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