Turn The Paige | Survey Says: User-Friendly Educational Apps
More and more apps are being used by children of all ages, which means that more and more apps are being created for children of all ages. But what makes these apps easy and appealing to use, not only for children, but for those who teach them? TechPudding offers this exhaustive list of criteria for evaluating educational apps and learning tools, including software and hardware. User-friendliness, it seems, can be boiled down to five main things:
- Effectiveness in the classroom: First and foremost, does it help your students learn?
- Resources for support: Does the tool come with a live support team or IT professionals to help you when needed?
- Reliability: Does it actually do what it says it will do, when it’s supposed to do it?
- Monitoring strategies: Does the app offer built-in tools for monitoring or gauging your students’ progress?
- Ease of use: Is the interface easy and intuitive to use? Is it uncluttered and aesthetically pleasing?
Free resources, while not always the easiest or most intuitive to use, automatically make it on the list of user-friendly tools in most teachers’ books—who already spend hundreds of dollars of their own pocket money every yearto buy much-needed classroom resources. Check out Google for Educators, which offers a plethora of resources that are both free and user-friendly. Sites like PBS, National Geographic, and the History Channel, along with local news sites, also offer educators a wealth of free resources for the classroom. A perhaps little-known site, aptly called FREE, provides teachers with a diverse range of resources for teaching arts and music, history, science… you name it. Apple itself has recently gotten behind education in a big way by creating free tools to developers (and any user with the drive and time) to publish digital textbooks for the iPad which anyone can use:
To research reviews of online apps and other digital tools for education, check out this website, which bills itself as a “community effort to ‘grade’ educational apps.” Teachers who teach in a home environment, like homeschooling parents or teachers who make house calls for students with disabilities or chronic illnesses, may enjoy Apps for Homeschooling, a site with reviews that specifically cater to the homeschool community.
What makes an educational app or digital tool “user-friendly” for you? Do you prefer drop-down menus, pre-populated lists, or an empty field to type in comments yourself? Do you value consistency over variety in the format of digital tools, or vice-versa?