In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of educational apps available to download; currently there are around 250,000 apps found under the education category within the major stores. The advantages of using tablet-based programmes in schools are becoming more and more visible; from the expansion of the learning experience and environment, to increasing class interaction and engagement. However, with such a vast and ranging choice, selecting the right app for your class can become quite an overwhelming task and it is sometimes hard to know where to start.
This is why we have created a checklist to help you find the right apps to use in school. These guidelines will help you to ensure that you choose apps that will stimulate, challenge and inspire your students and enhance their overall learning experience.
- Supports development
Ideally, the app you choose should assist students in mastering skills they are currently developing and offer practice to skills that are newly learned. It’s important that the content is appropriately challenging without being too difficult (and therefore demotivating). If you’re selecting an app for a mixed ability class, try and choose one that offers personalised learning based on individual ability.
- Adaptive Learning
Apps that are adaptive will adjust their content to suit the ability of each individual user. This way you can be sure that your students are working through content that is appropriate for them. This is a particularly useful element when you consider how steep the attainment gap between the lowest and highest achieving pupils can be in a single maths class. Adaptive apps will help you combat attainment gap issues by offering a differentiated learning experience.
- Age appropriateness
Ensure the app content is well targeted to your students’ age group. Again, you will want to select an app that can support their level of learning and understanding. You may also want to consider the appropriateness of things such as the user interface, design, and subject matter, depending on the age group of the class.
- Intuitive assistance
Ensure the navigation through the app is intuitive and not too complex, particularly if you are choosing for a younger year group. Intuitive navigation will encourage higher levels of use and engagement.
- Engagement and interaction
Will the app grasp your students attention? High quality apps will place your child in the centre of the process as opposed to making them a passive recipient. Students’ learning is heightened when they are engaged in the experience. Sufficient interaction is also a key factor when choosing apps; immediate feedback will help keep your students engaged and motivated.
- Learning outcomes
A question you may want to ask is whether the app you choose will support the learning outcomes you require for your students. Apps that are aligned to the national curriculum will help you to keep track of this and even set specific work for your students which reinforces what they are learning in class.
- Continual assessment and analysis
Apps that provide continual assessment and/or a facility to analyse or track progress can help support your formative or summative assessment. Since the removal of national levels in 2015, schools are now required to develop their own assessment policy. Perhaps the app you choose could help facilitate this with the analysis it provides; this is particularly useful if the app is curriculum aligned.
- Endorsed by educators/schools
Try and choose an app that is already being used by schools and educators. This means it has been tried and tested and is most likely having a positive effect on learning.
- Rewards and positive reinforcement
Self motivating features are crucial for continued and consistent use. Apps that build in rewards, games and incentives around their educational content are more likely to draw students attention and keep them motivated. Rewards for good performance and usage levels create a positive self motivating cycle and help students get the best out of an app.
- Promotion of creativity
Creativity is important for students’ cognitive and social development, so try and find an app that allows for some kind of freedom of expression and innovation. The promotion of creativity can help teach important cognitive skills such as mathematical and scientific thinking and problem solving.