There’s an App for that!

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Technology has made quite the impact on our lives, and is now starting to sneak its way into the classroom. It is quite amazing how the app market has grown over the last few years. Having worked for Apple for a couple of years, I follow the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference). Over the years it has gained so much interest and popularity, the tickets are highly coveted and now sell out within seconds! Apple announces new technologies and softwares at the WWDC, and integrates specific iOS tools kits for app developers. Conferences like this are a valuable experience for app hopefuls because we start to see hundreds of apps flooding the market that can potentially meet our needs. Ideally, we could eventually develop our own apps, with the help of an app!

The integration of mobile apps in the classroom has immense potential to impact a student’s learning, however, there are some roadblocks that must be overcome first. The issue is not so much the students ability to access and utilize the apps, but the teachers. There is a large split between generations in the education field when it comes to teachers. The older generation is not as fluent as the younger generation when it comes to technology. Having worked for Apple, I had to conduct consumer level training sessions, and here are some of the things I noticed with the older generation:

  • There is a want and need to stay current with technology, but a sever lack of understanding
  • Many people only use their devices for basic use partially because they do not know how to go beyond it, or a fear of doing something wrong
  • There is an innate fear of the ‘just go for it’ mentality when it comes to technology, because they might break it, or do something wrong that they can not fix
  • Unwillingness to learn and try something new

In order for apps to have a positive impact on student learning, there are quite a few things that need to be addressed. However, I think this list will take a while to occur within all public schools nation wide because there is such a discrepancy between accessibility, funding, and many other things:

  • Funding to provide each student and teacher with up-to-date technology
  • Increased funding and personnel for IT support in each school within the district
  • Meaningful training that actually applies to the use of the technology in the classroom
  • Updated curriculum that supports a learning environment that supports technology use
  • Updated classrooms that support the use of technology

Some of the app integration I have observed by my colleagues is fascinating. One of the french teachers at my previous schools utilized iBooks Author. She scanned in pages from numerous resources, added in definitions of certain words, audio recordings, pdf quizzes, web links and other resources. She then published the ebook for all of the students who were using the custom ‘textbook’. The little caveat is that her particular class was piloting an iPad Mini program, so each student had access to a mobile device, which made this activity possible.

Here is a list of apps that you can use in your classroom to help enhance your students’ learning experience: http://www.teachthought.com/apps-2/the-55-best-best-free-education-apps-for-ipad/

What are some of the apps you use in your classroom or personal life that has impacted your learning?

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