Figuring out which apps work best in your particular classroom is not easy. There’s a painstaking process of trial and error that teachers must go through (usually during the summer break or professional development sessions). If you’ve ever contemplated education technology integration or undergone the process, here’s how it typically works:
How to pick the best education apps for your classroom: the first steps
- You begin by identifying a need for a particular genre of app. Classroom management, for example. Awesome! Now what?
- You need to do some research via blogs, web searches, and polling colleagues about which app you should try out with your students.
- You narrow down your list of classroom management apps to about 10 or so. You start playing around with each of them and quickly delete at least half of them.
- You delete any paid apps as that’s just not going to happen on a teacher’s salary in a cash-strapped school.
- You have about 2 apps that would work but are unsure which one will be best. Time to just pick one and give it a shot, right? No! You should be polling your colleagues in school and online. Be sure to pose a question like ‘which classroom management app should I use?’ on the new Learn Egg (a question-and-answer site for education only) or on Twitter. You’ll get some useful information that might actually help you make your decision.
Okay, so that was an awful experience. It took forever and now you’re left with a few opinions, app options, and unsure how to proceed. That means you’re ready for the final steps!
The final steps of choosing the right app(s)
- Use the narrowed-down app options on your own and with a small test group of people. These can be friends, family, colleagues, or even a small sample of students. Use each app for at least 2 weeks before making a decision.
- Which app performed the best over the 2 week trial period? Do some in-depth web research, ask around on Learn Egg, Twitter, Facebook, and look up that app as much as possible. Figure out EVERYTHING you will need to know about it. How do you manage privacy settings, adjust brightness of your device, share screenshots, explain the app to parents, etc.? Be the smartest person in the classroom.
- Okay, you’re now the most informed and most knowledgeable user of this app for miles around. Time to integrate! Worst case scenario: it doesn’t help but at least you properly prepared so there were no major privacy or cyber-bullying issues. Best case scenario: it enhances learning and takes your classroom to a whole new level of learning!
There’s a lot at stake, so take your time and do your homework. Follow the above steps and you should be on your way to choosing a truly awesome app for your classroom or school district.
It’s a time-consuming and difficult process. Many teachers don’t even venture past step #1 because of all the headaches that come with trying to figure out how to integrate education technology, manage expectations, figure out what works with your particular students, talk to administrators, parents, trial and error, etc. Woof. That’s a lot of other stuff to worry about.
It’s no surprise many classrooms don’t take the chance on using apps on classroom devices (iPads, Chromebooks, smartphones, etc.) because of all the red tape.
A pair of useful resources to help you out
In an effort to help you navigate this decision-making process a bit better, we’ve whipped up a pair of handy resources.
The first is a visual guide to the typical process most teachers and school leaders go through when trying to figure out which app works best for the classroom. The guide is by no means exhaustive and is really meant to help you know (ahead of time) what to expect when you try to integrate education technology.
The second resource is a list I made a few years ago. It’s a crowdsourced guide to the most popular education apps for iOS. There’s also an Android list here if you’re interested. The apps below are in no particular order and anyone can add to the list. That’s why there’s more than 300 apps on the list. It’s crazy long and only useful as a jumping-off point for identifying the best apps for your classroom. So, take it with a big ol’ grain of salt.