Evaluating Educational Apps

By billsoPHOTO

Have you ever wondered if you should be evaluating apps before you begin using them with your students? The question is certainly valid, and one that others in the field have been pondering as well. Independent Consultant, Tony Vincent, author of the Learning in Hand blog and former teacher, recently wrote a blog post on this very topic http://tinyurl.com/72gnytk. Here, Vincent provides an app evaluation rubric and explains that others before him asked the same question – he provides a bibliography of sorts for app evaluation. Vincent credits Harry Walker, Doctoral student from Johns Hopkins University, for first developing an app evaluation rubric and Media Specialist, Kathy Schrock (a MEMO Conference Keynote Speaker!), for later adapting and editing the rubric.

So, what are some key pieces of information to keep in mind when evaluating apps? First, is the app relevant and does it instill or reinforce what your students need to know? Is the content appropriate for the age group? Are there advertisements – and how easy is it to accidently click on an advertisement? Can the app’s settings by customized to vary according to the individual’s or learning cohort’s needs? Has the app been updated recently? Does it promote collaboration and critical thinking? These are just a few questions to consider asking when evaluating an app.

What are some things you and your teachers consider while evaluating apps? Do you evaluate them, or do you tend to choose what is used based upon recommendations, what you can find through a basic search through the iTunes store, by price, or by teacher requests?

This topic is one CMLE staff is currently stewing on, and hopes to possibly explore further in the future. Media specialists and librarians are masters at evaluation and at creating and utilizing rubrics effectively. As such, this could be an important new role for media specialists working with teachers, as well as for librarians in a number of other settings. It is our role to inform others on how to ask the important questions about the resources we’re using – why should apps be any different? Be on the lookout for more on this topic from CMLE in the near future! Hopefully you’re excited to explore it with us too!