I’m really looking forward to Apple’s ‘Education Event’ coming up this week. Yes, I’m a moderate fanboy, but my interest is mostly piqued because I simply want to know how they’re seeking to dominate our education sphere. I don’t hear about too many Samsung 1:1 tablet roll outs. The sex appeal of Apple is already mesmerizing many districts and schools to delve into their budgets in a big way. Keep in mind that this is even with Apple doing very little to overtly target or customize their products for schools. What will happen once they properly lock their targets in?
Inspired by @ianchia and his two awesome girls, we’ve been making iBooks for our son Jackson because we’re so dissatisfied with what’s in the App Store. I’m sharing them with the world in a Google Docs collection. The collection will continually be added to, and you will also find instructions on how to do the terribly unintuitive syncing of ePubs onto your device of choice. Feel free to download our books if your kid is obsessed with ninjas too!
As a teacher who either owns an Apple handheld device or uses them in the classroom, you’ve probably perused the ‘Education’ section of the App Store. There are a kazillion apps on it. I’ve bought many of them for use in the classroom, as well as for my own children.
The problem with the Education Store is that most of the apps are not educational and many are just plain boring and dumb. Worst of all, they tend to be uber-focused on gimmicky content memorization. In other words, they are prettier, animated worksheets.
In my view, you pass through the novelty stage in using handhelds in your class when you initiate the use of apps that connect students to one another and content on the internet. To put it another way, if you see a button(s) in the app called either SHARE, POST, COMMENT, SEND, you’re probably on the right track.
I also think it is important that we think of apps for education by type, rather than too specifically. There are few things as subjective in technology use as what app to use for a particular purpose. Just look at the myriad of tools people are using to post to Twitter! Determining the quality of an app is extremely personal. What is more, the current changes so quickly in Appville that it is nearly impossible to keep an exhaustive list.
With this in mind, I’ve created a list below (one which I will continually update and invite contributions to through my comments) of App types that you should be looking for to thoroughly engage your students in creation, collaboration, and shared critical thinking. In italics you will see my own personal up-to-date favourites (most of them apply to both the iPod Touch and the iPad).