9 Things Teachers Want From Apps

I believe in the power of play in education and the last 2 years spent teaching tech in grades K-5 have really cemented the belief that there are at least 9 app features that should be considered before it enters the classroom environment.  I clearly see how well-designed playful lessons support student empowerment and knowledge creation.

What does this have to do with App features?  when you see my list of must haves you will see I am looking for ways to build more play int learning and make the time with tablets more seamlessly social.

Wokka RectangleThere are so many places where you can learn about play, reward, engagement, and how it relates to gaming.  If you are looking for someone to make you a believer, check  out Jane Mcgonigal.

Once the power of play is visible, the challenge is getting the learning goals met, harnessing the energy of discovery and play, while also keeping the environment social.  Luckily this is not a challenge teachers have to meet alone.

I got the chance to  meet Evan Sosnik and Deena Minwalla from Co.Lab “an accelerator that works with startups leveraging the power of digital games to build transformative educational technologies for PK-12 students and teachers.” from About Us.

Some of the transformative technologies Co.lab has supported and developed include Nearpod, The Foos, and Timbuktu.

In a conversation with Grant Hosford from Codespark, creator of The Foos I learned so much about how leveled programming apps that focus on sequence can support literacy skill acquisition.I love the way that mobile education is developing, and when I talk with other teachers and we dream big about what the classroom apps of tomorrow will do.

I love the way that mobile education is developing, and when I talk with other teachers and we dream big about what the classroom apps of tomorrow will do. Here are a collection of what we hope for in the apps of the future.

1That the apps we use in the classroom are optimized for classroom workflow and assessment.

It needs to be easy to see how students are responding to a challenge and record that data for use in formative and summative assessments.  We need to be able to quickly connect app-based work to the grade book.

2More apps have an active “Pair work” mode designed to interact with 4 hands.

While the consumer model is one screen per person, in education we are often facing limited devices, or we may want students to work in pairs.  Apps for young students need a “4 hands” mode.

3Allow students to interact in digital space, like Minecraftedu.

The world of MinecraftEDu is a compelling social space.  If we are training the kids to be digital citizens, let's get them to share digital space with others and educate them into responsible us of those spaces.

4Cross platform and web availability.

As a teacher, I want my students to be able to electively extend their learning at home.  I love working on tools available in multiple platforms because it promotes student access.

5Teacher dashboard that connects with LMS/ SIS.

This relates to the first point, but the more the app can connect with the daily work of the school, the better.  I would like to be able to set up a class directly from my sis, and assign homework and share progress directly in the LMS.  Some apps and LMS tools give most of the tool away for free, but sell this connecting piece.  That is a right place to locate the value, since the institution will be amking the purchase, have them pay for the tools they need.

6Single sign on

Students and teachers are in demand more than ever to have application that work together. A Great example of this are websites that allow users to sign in using their Gmail or Facebook logins. This allows students to memorize a single password and be able to use it across many platforms.

7Guidelines for meaningful learning both at home and in a classroom, what can parents and teachers do to support learning and reflection.

Apps are great, but when we have a one page guide to helping kids learn with apps it is really easy to send that hope and turn parents into partners.

8Pricing models and purchasing options that make it easy for schools or parents to support the app developer and secure ongoing availability of the app or service.

Teachers love free apps, but what we love more is the ability to use an app and count on it to be there. Please consider offering options to support the app, or buy a class set of licenses for another class or school.

9Industry standard to share/save/export/ or archive student work and progress in the app.

Save your progress and share it with another student is pretty common in class.  Sometimes it takes the shape of passing your paper to the next person over.  When we are working on devices we need more simple ways to share with others in our class.