Educational Apps: What Can They Bring? [PRESS]

It’s apparent to all that technology is here to stay. Coding being introduced into primary education is a clear indication of the government’s efforts to get pupils ‘technology-ready’ and build for the future. We teach I.T to make schoolchildren technically savvy from a young age to run parallel with the expansion of the digital economy, which is now reportedly contributing around £100 billion to the UK. The introduction of iPads into both primary and secondary schools has also proved to be a valuable method in increasing pupil engagement via the use of technology, both in and outside of I.T focused lessons. Going forward, it’s vital that educational institutions stay on trend with what is current in order to both make subject matters relevant (where applicable) and engage your students as much as possible as a result.

It’s clear that technology in schools is now steadily coinciding with the increase of smart devices, but the question is, could there be more to offer? We take a look at the impact that technology has had so far in the classroom and how it can be utilized further in order to both help improve grades and student/teacher relationships, with a particular focus on apps.

Apps as a learning tool

Like any other learning tool or exercise you have to ensure that the recipient is able to actively engage with it. A huge benefit to schools who decide to use apps is that you’ll be working with students that interact with them every day. According to findings from an Ofcom report in December 2014, around 70% of five-15 year olds now have access to a tablet at home. It does go without saying however that not all subjects are suitable for apps, for example English Language, in which key skills such as writing could be placed into jeopardy.

IPad apps are expanding the learning experience both inside and outside the classroom, making it more interactive, immersive, and engaging. Keeping these key factors in mind, one must assume that the additional platform is playing or soon will be playing an even more prominent role in improving students’ grades. This in turn would ideally trigger a chain of events which will benefit all involved at the school; the pupil is motivated, the teacher is happy, the head of department is ecstatic and the head teacher is thrilled with the progress in motion.

Apps as a portable extension

An additional benefit to using educational apps is that they’re a tool that can be accessed both on and off-site, which could prove as an effective way of saving money on resources such as text-books (which can prove to be expensive to replace!). You’ll also be encouraging students to actively participate in subject-related material in their ‘spare’ time, which could either coincide with pre-planned homework or as further reading.

What’s out there?

There are already thousands of educational apps out there available for download which cater to both students and teachers on a variety of topics. You have the history focused app ‘London – A City through Time’ which engages students via two thousand year old interactive maps, ‘Algebra Touch’ which diminishes the tedium of traditional methods of solving equations and ‘Chinagram’ which allows pupils to learn the meanings of the language’s most representative characters. It is very important however that you carefully select the apps which adhere to your schools teaching methods and objectives.

How do I construct this app?

You should have the following in the back of your mind when selecting which one to use:

Engagement – Is the app inviting and intuitive?

Age & Intelligence Level – Does the content apply to the correct level of student?

Design – Does the design appropriately cover the subject matter?

Motivation – Does the app make the pupil want to learn more? Does it praise them for their hard work?

Accessibility – Does the app cater to a range of ages and levels via its content?

What else could be done?

Despite there being a range of useful subject-related apps available, schools have yet to acknowledge the benefit of internal apps (commonly referred to as enterprise apps in business organizations). The fundamental aim of these are to maximise efficiency and communication between individuals, of which could be applied to the school environment.

Either as a brand new platform or as an extension to an established intranet school portal, an app could prove to be an effective way of enhancing relations between staff and pupils. Teachers would be able to give feedback on work, set additional reading via internet links and also be there for guidance even when the pupil isn’t in the same room. Pupils would also be able to complete teacher surveys online which could offer better classroom insights. This would then discard the paper surveys which are commonly known to lure the pupil’s attention away elsewhere. In addition to this, an internal app would allow heads of departments and other senior figures to monitor all staff and track progress via the above reports.

Apps have begun to revolutionise the way in which students are learning, which is running parallel with the rise of smart devices. With the population in the UK also expanding, education institutions must work with self-learning technical aids provided on offer in order to maximise student motivation whilst catering to a growing number of school-goers.

 

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