9 Ways to Tell If a New App Is Ready For Classroom Use

At last count, there were over 80,000 educational apps available to teachers. While many of these may be a dream come true for educators, the dizzying array of choices is also a nightmare. Teachers just don’t have time to filter through thousands of apps to find the one that works best for the needs of their students.

To make this process less agonizing, here are the hallmarks of a classroom-ready educational app.

  1. It has clear connections to the curriculum. Classroom time is valuable, and can’t be wasted on games and apps that do not clearly align with curriculum goals. These connections must be clear throughout the user experience, rather than just a brief nod here and there.
  2. It gives students the opportunity for active learning. Intellectual involvement is essential to student success. Ensure that the app offers more depth than simply mindless scrolling.
  3. It supports the meaningful assessment of student performance. Does the app provide clear data that teachers can use to further customize learning experiences for students? And even more importantly, is it the right kind of data, or merely a distraction?
  4. It is engaging to students. A good app provides students with plenty of good, old-fashioned fun. It should be sufficiently enjoyable that they will want to continue to use it outside of school hours.
  5. It encourages collaboration. Social interaction is a key component of learning. A good app gives students access to meaningful collaboration with other students through such means as teamwork or videoconferencing.
  6. It provides meaningful connections to student’s lives. Does the app present real-world skills that students encounter in their day-to-day lives? Or are the skills presented vague and abstract?
  7. It addresses the needs of students and teachers. The best apps were designed with teachers in mind. Ideally, educators are represented on the team of developers.
  8. Students receive meaningful feedback within the app. The app should provide a clear reward for success (such as advancing to the next level). Students also need to have the ability to ask for hints and help when needed.
  9. The app is relevant and accessible to diverse students. The app should have built-in scaffolding for struggling readers, second-language English learners, and other diverse students. Students of a variety of racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds should be represented in the app.

Creating classroom-ready apps is a necessary service to teachers and will make their edtech experience rewarding and enjoyable.

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