BYOD and Finding Apps for Education

Mobile is the big thing in computers, and apps is the big thing in software for those mobile devices, but educators and schools are still behind these trends.

That's not surprising. It took longer to get computers and then the Internet into classrooms than all the prognosticators were saying 25 years ago.

Students, especially at the higher levels, are bringing their own devices to class. That's enough of a trend in itself that a search on BYOD will turn up lots of results. As is often the case with technology, the business world has already been dealing with BYOD issues (such as usage policies) before schools gave it any serious thought. BYOD has a Wikipedia entry too, so it's official.

Students bringing their own technology (smartphones, tablets, and laptops) is moving down from higher ed to K-12 education. The model has always been that schools provided the technology that students would need. Some of that tech "funding" is being passed on to students and parents without schools even asking via the BYOD trend. This has also reduced a school's responsibility for support and upgrades.

But one thing that hasn't changed much in 25 years is deciding what software should be used. Schools or teachers still have most of the control over content and oftentimes that also means the software.

In 1990, there may have been dozens of software titles in an academic area and it was difficult to preview, review and test them. With the rise of apps on mobile devices, there are hundreds or thousands of titles to sift through to find ones with good educational uses.

Most educators don't have the time to go through the process. More and more, textbook companies drive adoption by bundling software with textbooks.  Hopefully, educators can begin to use the filters, curation and recommendations of peers aided by sites (and even apps) and contribute their own reviews for others.

I find many more sites with a K-12 focus rather than higher ed, so far. Here are a few samples:

IEAR- I Education Apps Review - reviews on apps, schools spreadsheets of Apps, student reviews

SNapps4Kids these reviews have an embedded list of skills that are addressed in the app (very important in K-12's world of objectives and assessment

Scoop it- Recommended Educational App Lists  - on this site you can join or just look at the reviews

Apps in Education - a blog that includes apps for music, math, English, special needs and more

App Advice is interesting because it is a website and also an app itself. The appadvice app is $1.99.

Have you found other reliable sources?

Some Free Classroom Apps

There are many free apps that can be used in the classroom. You have to be a creative teacher to use elementary apps effectively with students too young to have phones, but teachers are using iPads and tablets in classrooms and sometimes even getting parents to use apps on their own devices at home. Here are some via techlearning.com. Some are free. Some are free versions of apps that are available at a cost but are available in free lite versions (some may have ads).

Math


Basic Math - This app offers basic operations of math with choices. It allows teachers to see student’s score and email results to parents.


Mad Math Lite - If your classroom has limited iPads, this app allows you to have more than one user. In addition, it enables you to set the student’s setting depending what operation they are working on. This app records a report card on the student’s progress.


Coins Genius - This app is a good introduction to coins. It is limited in the free version, but it does give you a chance to see if this would be a good tool for your class.


Calculator Pro - A standard calculator in vertical mode and a scientific calculator in landscape mode.


EaselAlgebra ilite - Easel combines interactive, hands-on algebra workbooks with instant "ShowMe" lessons. If you get stuck on a problem, just tap "ShowMe" and see a step-by-step animation of how to solve the problem.


HMH-Fuse Geometry- A completely self-contained, interactive curriculum on the iPad.


Elementary Language Arts


My Spelling Test - Create your own spelling tests with your weekly words. Students can
test themselves. Allows students to see what words they got right and wrong. Teachers can track student’s work to make sure they stay on level.


ABC Phonics sigh words - Uses the DOLCH spelling words. The app has flashcards, drag and spell, and unscramble.


Wordweb Dictionary - The WordWeb English dictionary and thesaurus: fast searching, spelling suggestions, definitions, usage examples, synonyms, related words - and no ads


Free ebooks -  Download app, then join for free. Download five free books a month.


Paperdesk lite - Leave behind your paper notebook for your next class lecture or meeting. PaperDesk is a simple notebook replacement made for the iPad. The design goal behind PaperDesk was to mimic, as closely as possible, a simple pad of paper with no unnecessary frills.


Foreign Language


Spanish Tutor 24/7 - Goes
beyond the simple talking phrasebook or flashcard programs, providing a set of interactive study tools that helps users learn Spanish. Also available for French: French Tutor 24/7.


Sign Language - How to fingerspell words, numbers, express basic sentences, idioms and learn about deaf culture.




Apps and Attention Deficit

Vicki Windman is a special education teacher who regularly posts about tech, especially apps lately. Here are some apps that can help students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

iearnedthat-lite
(Free/ Full Version $1.99) Helps children develop desirable behaviors by working towards tangible goals. Choose a behavior for the child. Do not interrupt for 15 minutes during a 45-minute class period. Student then takes a picture of what he or she wants, such as computer time. The picture is broken down into puzzle pieces. Each time the student is successful, he or she adds another piece. Upon completion of the puzzle student receives an award. The app is good for all ages.


ireward $4.99 A motivational tool for iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Create a star chart or token board to help reinforce positive behaviors using visual rewards. This type of praise or approval will help parents of typically developing children, children with autism, developmental delays, ADHD, and anxiety disorders.


Homeroutines $3.99 This app can be customized for any age. Create routine checklists, then complete them on chosen days of the week, with reminder notifications, and a gold star for each completed task. Checklists can automatically reset.


Alarmed-reminder timersFree Pop up reminder alerts. Includes 80 custom sounds, Nag me for auto repeating. Great for students to help remind them when they need to bring something to school.


ADHD organizer $1.99 Lets users set goals and record their success. Includes a memory bank section for thing frequently forgotten.


Audio-notes recorder $2.99 Record notes and export by email. Great for students who need to remember something without having to write it down.


Event Countdown $1.99 This is great for students who need to keep track of assignments. App shows remaining days, hours and minutes until the date.

Audionote recorder-notepad $4.99 Combines the functionality of a notepad and voice recorder.


Vicki has also posted about useful apps for assessment.

iPhone Application Development

Most of us can't get a seat in Stanford's popular iPhone and iPad application development course, but luckily the open side of courseware allows anyone with app dreams to follow online. 

Stanford has released the iOS 5 version of their "iPhone Application Development" on iTunes U. You can download course lectures and slides for free. The obvious audience is students of all ages interested in developing apps, but if you are teaching or planning to teach such a course yourself, it would make sense to take a look.

Stanford offered an iPhone apps course online in 2009 and it made some history by scoring a million downloads in its first seven weeks. The instructor is Paul Hegarty and he teaches students how to program apps for iPads and iPhones. It is the most popular download on
Stanford's iTunes U site, with more than 10 million views.

It is no small task to learn to create apps. Unofficial prerequisites: If you are unfamiliar with Apple's operating systems, you need to learn Objective-C.  If you were a Stanford student, you would have taken a year of computer science classes and had object-oriented programming before taking the apps course. Two Stanford prerequisite courses, Programming Methodology and Programming Abstractions, are also available on iTunes U.







Disrupting Education With Apps

Tomorrow, I am giving a keynote for faculty at Bloomfield College. It's about how software apps and mobile computing in general is impacting teaching. "Educating in an App World" is still to come for most classrooms.

Sure, "There's an app for that" has gone from being an advertising tagline to being a solution for many software needs. Apps – small, easy to download software for mobile devices – are definitely changing how students at all level are using technology.

Watch pre-schoolers playing with their parents phones and tablets. Have you seen a 3 year old go up to a TV screen and try to drag or pinch an image? It's how they expect to interact with technology.

I have found more apps available for the K-12 world than for higher education. But, we limit the use of mobile devices in classrooms, especially in the lower grades. Teachers are more likely to ban phones than make use of them.

But that IS changing. Apps are changing the way colleges design and deploy software and it is moving into classrooms.

The idea of "disruptive innovation" (which was coined by Clayton Christensen) is that a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market but then moves “up market" and eventually displaces the established competitors.

Disruptive innovation: cellular phones disrupted fixed line telephony; traditional full-service department stores have been disrupted by online and discount retailers; doctor’s offices are being displaced by medical clinics. Maybe the traditional four-year college experience is being displaced in degrees by community colleges, online learning and school 2.0.

The problem is that education isn't business, no matter how much politicians and critics want it to be.

Take innovation. Companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ lives change. There are newer phones but customers who don't want to upgrade yet. The company ends up producing products or services that are actually too good and too expensive for many of their customers. But in education, those "customers" that we prefer to call students innovate faster than the schools. Students probably have the technology in their hands before we can offer it or have a way to use it in our classrooms.

What is changing in higher ed? Firts, is how students use technology with or without our guidance. That is driving changes in the way colleges design or purchase websites and software. Go back more than a decade and a school had to get a website. Then they had to get a better website. Now, you better have some apps. 

The ways colleges deploy software is also changing. Did your school offer software on CDs? Did it move to downloads? Did it move away from even supplying software or requiring a computer? Will it offer apps?

The greatest change comes when educators can implement apps for teaching. Initially, colleges use it for campus-wide initiatives like admissions, but we are seeing it begin to move into classroom use.

Do you agree with this critic? “For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.”   That was Socrates on the written word, see Phaedrus, 340 BC.

Welcome to the app world.