Teaching? Theres an App for that

In recent years, as phones have become ‘smart,’ I have found myself relying more and more on them. My iPhone, with its sleek, 3.5’ touch screen interface is able to help me with nearly any task. It is a handheld GPS, it reminds me of important dates and deadlines and allows me to ‘google’ anything, at any time. It wakes me up in the morning and can even sing me lullabies at night (on a timer). And when I run into a problem, the App Store is always there to lend a helping hand, because you can bet that no matter the problem – there’s an app for that!

It is amazing how many smart phone applications can be employed within the classroom, or were developed exclusively for educational purposes. Mobile phones have become hand held computers that can become so useful in facilitating student engagement and learning.

Truth of the matter is that there are actually SO MANY apps that it can become difficult to isolate the most useful for the purpose. Luckily, Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA)  regularly tests available apps and even recommends apps for teacher use!

Being an iPhone user, I can really only comment on my experience with the apps available in the App Store. However, many of the same or similar apps are available for android users too. Here are some of applications that I (and TCEA, as well) feel have huge potential in the classroom:

Astrid – this is an open source to-do list and task manager that enables the teacher to make to-do lists and share them with the students. The app features reminders, syncing, a widget and instant notifications, the app is useful for peer-learning tasks and building organizational skills.

Evernote – A handy little app that allows you to take notes, pictures or clip articles on your smartphone, which you can then tag with words, phrases, date tags or other info in order to reference later. All notes created on your cell phone will be synced with your computer as well. During a science lab, all students could take a picture of their results to send to Evernote. Likewise, the teacher can save all readings, notes and presentations into Evernote for students to access from their mobile phones.

Open Culture – This free app provides mobile access to educational media collections, audio books, language lessons, podcasts and more. Many students have difficulty completing effective searches through a search engine and a simple ‘google’ search brings up far too many irrelevant results. Open culture focuses the students search on educational material in audio, written or visual form.

There are also a huge number of subject specific stimulations that can create hands on learning environments for students. Using mobile technology applications students can dissect a frog, observe and predict weather patterns, create music, or even create personal study tools. For those looking for a more comprehensive list of applications, check our APPitic! It is a great website database of over 1800 educational apps, sorted by purpose, subject and age group.

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