Well Developed apps Provide Multi-modal Learning Pathways, Bridge Gaps, and Extend our Reach
As the digital world gets more integrated with daily life, mobile apps are used as tools to get things done and gateways that keep us connected. They help us accomplish work and enjoy our hobbies, coworkers and friends are just a tap away, and our ability to handle tasks, receive information and communicate has been increased exponentially. And when it comes to education, mobile apps are fundamentally changing the practice of teaching, learning and communication.
Mobile Apps Bring the Classroom to Parents
When my kids started school this year, their teachers didn’t simply send them home with a paper syllabus and textbooks; communication between teacher and student and teacher and parent was established through mobile apps. Google Classroom, for instance, helps my daughter’s teacher organize and communicate homework assignments, send feedback and keep the class organized. My son’s teacher also integrates ClassDojo, which can be used with Google Classroom to communicate with parents about their student’s classroom behavior.
These apps help me, as a parent, stay connected and up-to-speed as to what’s happening in my children’s classrooms and how well they are doing in class – everything from grades to photos of my kids during the school day are available with a quick tap of an app icon.
Enhancing the Student Experience
Well-developed apps can provide multi-modal learning pathways – offering students video, audio, demonstrations and examples to help them better understand principles and reach desired learning outcomes. Students receive a lesson in class, then at home review the instructions in-app or practice homework problems with immediate feedback. They can also engage with lessons through games and participate in forums or chats, and start planning for their future by reading about higher education and financial aid incentives.
The ability for students to plan homework and group projects through apps allows teachers the opportunity to monitor the process and interact directly with real-time feedback. They can set up notifications to remind them to study for upcoming tests and help them balance work, school, extracurricular activities and home life. Just like our access to friends and co-workers exists through apps, a student’s access to lessons, tutors, and information now exists.
It’s no secret that some classrooms struggle to meet educational standards and prepare students for our fast-changing world. Edutech apps give students the power to enhance learning, regardless of each individual’s style and preferences. They present alternative modes of learning – such as video explanations, gamification, guided practice, study alerts and more.
Using Analytics to Improve the Classroom
Analytics from edutech apps can track student progress and help educators evaluate methods. The ability to obtain this level of data has never been possible before and the opportunities it presents are significant. For example, the time a student spends on a lesson is valuable insight teachers didn’t have previously and digitally tracking final grades on homework and tests paint a more complete picture of what is working for the classroom as a whole and what is working for an individual student.
Additionally, data collected from the student’s use of an app can be used to customize the app interface the student uses so they have consistent access to information in a way that works for them. Consistent usage of an app can help students from kindergarten through graduation as their lessons build upon each other and their app responds with greater levels of personalization.
With ClassDojo, apps can help with classroom management by bringing parents into the education of their children with up-to-the-minute feedback and information pulled from the app’s analytics. Teachers can better plan deadlines for homework assignments based on data about when students are engaged with apps in the evening, and have better understanding of student schedules as they balance the multitude of activities and responsibilities that they juggle.
Educational Apps Extending Reach
Edtech is an expanding technology sphere that bridges the gap between school and home – homework info, grades, direct communication, surveys, school updates, etc. – and bridges the gap between practice and results by quantifying data in ways we have never been able to do before. Through technology developments like easily accessible and managed mobile apps, classrooms can become more efficient and effective, and educators have access to the data they need to make the best teaching decisions possible.
According to EdSurge, edtech companies raised $91 million this year in August alone. And, for good reason – ClassDojo claims its app is used in 50 percent of classrooms across the country. App releases are expanding across international borders with everything from gamified math lessons for elementary students to survey and feedback apps that help schools and universities better understand the needs and expectations of students and their parents.
Education apps for smartphones and tablets are also bridging gaps when it comes to socio-economic differences. Implementing affordable and accessible tech in classrooms means increasing access to quality education regardless of income, neighborhood and ethnicity – truly a “no child left behind” scenario – thanks in part to mobile app management. As mobile apps are more easily accessed, managed and utilized, more classrooms are set to benefit from their use, more students can benefit from their customization, and more school districts can confidently employ methodologies that fulfill the needs of their student-body.
Consider The Khan Academy, an online education platform offering free video-based micro lectures that can be accessed through a comprehensive app interface. The Khan Academy delivers learning content that’s highly targeted and personalized, much like one-on-one tutoring in the physical world where students receive instant feedback. It helps address the high cost and barriers to a quality education that exist across the world today and the accessibility and interactivity of these materials result in learners that are more motivated, accountable and invested in their own success, giving them a higher chance of excelling in the subject matter. Additionally, The Khan Academy offers test prep services and college admissions information, which many under-funded schools are unable to offer students.
Apps as a Tool to Personalize Education
There are infinite possibilities when it comes to using mobile apps in education. At the most basic level, parents and students receive up-to-date notifications or homework reminders and instruction. Fully realized, students have access to apps that help them learn the way they respond to best, provide appropriate reminders through push-notifications, track progress and feed data to future teachers so classrooms are more customized and student progress follows them throughout their education. I see a future where middle school classrooms are organized by learning-styles and aptitudes are championed across subjects all because of the potential mobile apps provide.
A mobile app that helps my students realize their potential is one I eagerly enlist. My kids have more access to their teacher and the ability to track their progress and I have more access to them even when they are in school for the day all because of a mobile app. The continuing advancement of mobile apps can spring us into a future that is not only more connected, but more effective.