In preparation for a future column, I'm looking to get as many responses as possible from teachers AND students to the following survey on favorite apps. Lots of iOS users have contributed their favorites so far, and I'd really love to get some some great Android app recommendations as well.
This is the first posting of a new column I'm penning at Appolicious!
Connected Educator Month has been a month-long social media extravaganza, targeting not only U.S. educators, but teachers and administrators around the world as well. During August, educators have had the opportunity to participate in Twitter chats, webinars and Google Hangouts while collectively exploring this brave new world for teaching and learning.
The idea is that together we can improve teaching and learning for our students via virtual connections and professional development events. Karen Cator, the Director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, often defines “highly connected teachers” as those connected to data, resources, and to each other. Effective educators are empowered educators, and social media plays a significant role in this process. For more information about Connected Educator Month, make sure to check out the Twitter stream conversations and edublogger Stephanie Sandifer’s great posts on connected learning.
Now that attention has been brought to the power of social media used for professional purposes in education, here are a few apps that will help teachers and administrators stay connected throughout the school year. Most of these apps are from web-based services which you probably will want to manage mostly on the web. However, you can leverage the power of mobility by also using these apps on your mobile device of choice.
Here's an interesting article that's been posted in my Facebook feed several times today. My first reactions:
1. Parents need to set limits with everything... the use of devices such as iPhones or iPads included. New devices, same old parenting issues.
I struggle with this all the time, but I know I bear the ultimate responsibility for my kids' overusing devices. Maybe I should start using a timeout app. My daughter, Julia, told me a few months ago to stop putting educational apps on her iPhone. Hah, I'll just replace those with this app with a tantruming kid graphic.
2. I'm not particularly cautious parent when it comes to apps my kids try out, but then again I'm not likely to have questionable apps on my computer in the first place. I usually buy apps upon recommendations and let my kids go to town with them. I'm actually interested in seeing what grabs their attention. My attitude may lead to problems, buyer beware, see #4.
3. That said, the author of this article could have done a deeper dive into this topic. I agree that it's difficult to navigate the iTunes Store which recently hit 10 billion downloads. App curation is a need, but there are many sites and blogs devoted to app reviews and children's media. If parents need help with this, my immediate recommendations would be Common Sense Media's mobile app section, Appolicious, and iEAR. The author of this blog friended me tonight in Facebook, and it looks like a good read, too.
If parents don't know how to find resources such as this, try entering the terms KIDS APP REVIEWS into a Google search and a plethora of resources will magically appear.
4. I agree that parents need to be aware of in-app purchases. I'm embarrassed to admit that we had a fiasco in our house involving an app called Bakery Story. My 8 year old son purchased nearly $700 worth of gems through this game. iTunes refunded this unauthorized purchase, thank goodness. I am not the only parent this happen to; check out this article.
During this debacle, I also learned that you can turn off the ability to make in-app purchases. Go to your device's settings, then General, Restrictions, Scroll down to Allowed Content and turn off In-App Purchases. You also might want to look at the rating settings movies, music, podcasts, TV shows, and apps. If you really want to control things, you can also turn off the ability to play multiplayer games and adding friends.
5. The Boston.com article also mentions an app from National Geographic called Ultimate Dinotopia which we purchased last week. While my son Henry enjoyed it, I was disappointed. I haven't investigated its origins, but it seems like NG just dumped a print book into digital form and added a couple of slightly interactive features. A much more impressive app based on a book is Animalia. There is a version for iPhones and another for iPads.
6. There are more than 90 comments on this article, many of which are fairly harsh about technology. My stance on this is that iPads are the way of the future of learning; we've only just started to dig into its possibilities.
From my own use and from observing my children interact with content on various Apple devices, I understand how personal the experiences can be. From choosing content to saving content to editing and creating content, it's a device that lends itself to personalization.
For instance, I've become a fan of not only reading e-books on my iPad, but of searching, highlighting and taking notes within digital books. I can't imagine kids having sustained, deep connections with books by highlighting and note taking if they had to share an iPad in a class or within a family. Yes, you can have connections to print books in the same way, but you can't search them as efficiently in print nor can you carry around the same amount of print books that you can store digitally on an iPad.
If the price of iPads comes down or I win the lottery, whichever comes first, I will be purchasing iPads for each of my kids. I don't see this as a luxury, but as a necessity. I also don't think people will fully understand this until they have the opportunity to explore iPads in-depth.
This is my favorite new find that will undoubtedly support my new obsession with everything related to iPhone apps!
Check out this very well designed site which allows you to import a list of the names of iPhone apps on your computer to rate and critique. Share items on your list with others, or keep some apps private. Curate collections of apps for other users to browse, and participate in discussions related to apps. Tie your account to Twitter and Facebook so that you can post your curated lists in multiple places. Creating a social media space revolving the booming apps business is brilliant! When your friends ask you for app recommendations, just send them to your page in Appolicious. Not to be completely biased, there is also a community for Android users.
Here's a link to my first attempt at a collection: