I'm going to have some Chromebooks, Kindle Fires (rooted to run Android) and iPods in my classroom this year. My initial impulse is to created a list of apps, load them up for the students and then have everything prepared in advance. I've been tempted to look up app lists online and send out tweets asking for the "best apps" for various categories.

However, instead I'm doing nothing.

Every device will begin with the factory settings. As we go, we'll add apps to fit the particular projects, standards and lessons. It feels counterintuitive to me. After all, I'm stocking my cabinets with school supplies ahead of time. Why not apps?

But I have a few reasons:
  1. I don't want to crowd devices with apps that we "may need" rather than apps that we need. I know that they're free and there is room on each device. However, I'm not a fan of clutter and distractions. If we end up with ten apps at the end of the year, that's okay.
  2. I want students to be a part of the selection process. I want them to learn how to find apps that fit with what they want to learn and what they want to create rather than how they want to be entertained. 
  3. I want to choose apps based upon the instructional needs of our projects rather than trying to develop projects based upon what we are using. 
  4. I want students to engage in a conversation regarding what it means to use various apps, programs and webtools across platforms and devices. 

14 comments:

  1. That is a great idea. There is no reason for students to grow up being totally reliant on the IT guy or unable to think critically about software. These students will grow up to be the IT guys and girls and they will be the ones who develop apps.

    The education system seems to include quite a bit of clutter. Educators should do their part to eliminate some of that, and at very least, not contribute to creating more clutter.

    Students need to know why they are learning/doing what they are learning/doing and how it applies to life beyond school. Students will likely chose and install apps in their futures.

    Thanks for the post.

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    1. I think eliminating the clutter is the part of curating that is often missed.

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  2. I really like giving the students voice in their choice of apps that with be driven by being appropriate for the lesson/standard/content.

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    1. Thanks! I'll try and report on how it goes during the school year.

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  3. Are you able to download the apps for yourself or do you have a "gatekeeper"? I ask because I ran into this issue with iPads last year. Any app that we wanted had to be vetted through one person in the building, and then purchasing them became a challenge because of the fact that our bookkeeping system still relies on checks. I see this as an obstacle for fully realizing the potential that tablets have.

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    1. I'm essentially the gatekeeper, which means I'll be entering passwords myself. That's not such a bad thing, though. Just to keep it from getting crazy, I'll rely on free apps. If a paid app is truly necessary, I can use an iTunes gift card. That's been the workaround in our department.

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  4. I totally love your approach. Less is often more and the discovery part of the learning is so important for these young people. That's the critical part of our newer roles as educational coach/mentors!

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  5. I flash a new custom ROM on my Galaxy Nexus about once a month (sometimes more often). What this means in practice is that my phone's system data is cleared when I flash a new ROM.

    I used to let Google re-sync all my apps back to my phone, but lately I've been just starting from scratch and downloading an app when I actually need it.

    I think it's a great way to start the year with your devices, John.

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    1. I like that concept, Russ! I never thought about doing it that often, but it makes sense.

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  6. I flash a new custom ROM on my Galaxy Nexus about once a month (sometimes more often). What this means in practice is that my phone's system data is cleared when I flash a new ROM.

    I used to let Google re-sync all my apps back to my phone, but lately I've been just starting from scratch and downloading an app when I actually need it.

    I think it's a great way to start the year with your devices, John.

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  7. Fantastic idea. Users need to love their learning tools and have a role in defining and designing them is vital.

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  8. These are nice thoughts. I think apps can wait, and there are lots of apps we "may need" as you say, but there are others which really make our task simpler and add fun to our job too! One of them , in my opinion is Nearpod, designed thinking about teachers' needs. I know many teachers who've tried it and love it! Hope this helps,

    Roger

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    ReplyDelete

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