Six criteria for choosing educational apps

Nick Chater is a teacher and ed tech champion with over 20 years experience in education. He blogs at www.nick-chater.com and tweets from @nick_chater. Here he gives us his opinion on how to choose a great educational app.

1.Why?
Why do you want to use an app? What is it that the app will do that you, as the teacher, cannot do? Will the app reinforce the concept you have taught? Is it a drill and skill, simulation or creative tool?

2.One size does not fit all!
What you consider is good, may not be for the learner! You will know this from your own teaching, so do not make snap judgements and celebrate the rich diversity of routes to authentic learning.

3.Metacognition.
The importance of any app is its ability to stimulate a dialogue between learner and teacher around the concepts that are being taught. The richness of learning conversations that are provoked by an app is always a good judge for evaluating it.

4.Platform.
Do not get bogged down by the devices they are using, a good app will always shine through regardless of a favoured operating system. Many good apps are platform agnostic and can easily be used on any device.

5.Cost.
Free is great, but be warned, the app may not have the essential complexity necessary for a useful learning tool. However a free app may lead you into a suite of paid additional apps that can develop the learner. Essentially it is important not to just ignore the paid apps, there are a vast range of excellent tools.

6.How do I know which app to choose?
The best way to determine whether the app is suitable for use as a learning tool is to play with it yourself, failing that then find a suitable reviewing website such as this one! Why? Because the apps are easily searchable within topics and stages and have been reviewed by experienced practitioners.

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