Ros Walker

…learning, education, disability and stuff

Which apps should I buy?

Working as an e-learning adviser, it may be expected that I should be asked ‘Which apps should I buy?’ A perfectly reasonable question coming from someone new to mobile technology to someone who has been researching and working with it for some time. However, the question takes me back to my earliest days as an adviser, when I was working with modern languages teachers. The phone would ring and a teacher would say “Hello, I’m from XYZ school in Never Never land – We’ve got a budget to buy software and I’m just wondering what we should buy?” I can’t blame the teacher for asking the question – it came from the days of e-learning credits where schools had money thrown at them and just wanted to be able to buy software. However, it rarely came with any thinking about what was the purpose of the software. I would probe for an answer: which languages are you working with? Which age group? Which skills are you looking to help pupils with? How does your curriculum work – when and how do pupils have access to computers? (The inquisition continued until I was able to find something for the school to spend their money on…and I was reminded of my dad saying ‘That money’s burning a hole in your pocket’.)

So, back to the ‘app’ question. Which apps should you buy? Well, what are you teaching? What are the pupils learning? Is an app the cover-all pill that a pupil can take to digest this chunk of learning? Will you be using the app for the whole class or is this something that the pupils will use on their own / in groups? ….

I don’t want to knock apps completely – there are some very good ones, some which pupils enjoy and no doubt will learn from effectively, but until we have a clear idea about what we are teaching and what pupils are learning and how, buying an app as a sticking plaster isn’t going to work.

After sharing this post with Joe Dale, he suggested the following sites which give tools for evaluating apps:

You may want to add a link to Silvia Tolisano’s app evaluation blog post – http://langwitches.org/blog/2012/05/27/evaluating-apps-with-transformative-use-of-the-ipad-in-mind and Tony Vincent’s http://learninginhand.com/blog/ways-to-evaluate-educational-apps.htm

Both very useful, adding some substance to the ‘Which app?’ debate.

1 Comment »

iPads and MindMapping

These are the things exciting me this week.

I have been using Mind Jet’s Mind Mapping Pro software to help me to organise my reading. I find it really useful to mindmap ideas. Trying to understand the article by Mayes and de Freitas, it was useful to mindmap the Associationist, Situative & cognitive perspectives to see the key features of each. My only problem with this is the software was a free download for 30 days and the free trial is running out! Can anyone recommend any free mindmapping software? I do like the way that Mind Mapping Pro can take a mindmap and convert it into text. I have used that in the past to structure reports. (I had a much older version, but it doesn’t seem to like Windows 7).

I think I may be in love!

I have treated myself – I have an iPad. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was when it arrived. I had to pinch the money from my savings and have promised myself to pay it back into my savings account at £40 per month, but it is worth it! Oh, I am so in love with the touch of it, the look of it – I may even get round to finding out what it does soon!!!

I’m keen to research educational uses and have started to do some reading – on the iPad of course – but this is taking me away from the work I should be doing on my Masters. Hoping that I may be able to combine the two at some stage. In the meantime, I will just carry on cuddling my latest gadget – one that I can even take to bed without my husband objecting, because it has iBooks on it and I’ve downloaded some Dickens to read before going to sleep!

1 Comment »