July 18, 2016
There is no doubt that the internet and the use of smart devices in the classroom is revolutionizing how teachers teach and how students learn. Think of any subject, any technique and “there’s an app for that”… in fact, there are probably thousands of apps for that! This, of course, is where the problem lies. How do you find the apps that will expand on your lessons and engage your students without distracting them or isolating them?
One criteria that can be helpful to use in narrowing down your choices is to look for apps that encourage collaboration rather than just one student and the screen. There are apps that allow students to share notes, write stories, create multimedia presentations and research long term projects. These apps empower students to work together.
Another solid benchmark to consider is whether it encourages students to “break the rules” or build something new. Are users just playing a game or filling in the blanks? Or are they encouraged to be creative? to create? to expand upon ideas and form new conclusions, new questions, new paths to discover?
Of course, it is critically important to ensure that any apps you use have safety settings that will allow you to contain search terms and access to appropriate materials.
There are hundreds of lists of the “best apps for educators” but we would be remiss not to include our own favorites that follows these 3 points of criteria. I’ve used all of the apps below and can speak to its ease of use, collaboration capabilities and creativity-inspiring capabilities.