What makes a good Educational App?

The US Department of Education has just released its Ed Tech Developer’s Guide. This is designed to help developers create high-quality educational apps. Here at the EAS, we’ve picked out a couple of considerations from the paper that we wanted to share with you to help you when developing your app.

When designing educational apps, it is easy to focus purely on the academic side and forget about the wider range of elements that play a part in learning, such as persistence and strategising. Let’s take a moment to think about video games. What makes them so popular? Gamers are faced with challenges that they must overcome to move onto the next level: a reward brought about by perseverance and adapting their approach. Let’s relate this to educational apps. An app can challenge students to think about different ways to solve a problem where they may have to try different methods a few times over until they understand and can move on to the next stage of learning. But remember, the most popular video games are also the most interactive and fun. If you can incorporate these elements as well, not only will students develop academic and cognitive skills, they will enjoy learning.

It is also vital to put yourself in the shoes of teachers and parents when developing your app. Teachers want apps that are aligned with learning goals and to be able to assess student needs efficiently and effectively. They can then adapt lessons plans based on these needs and offer personalised learning content for their students. But don’t forget the role of parents in the learning process. The Ed Tech paper highlights that parents want to engage more with their children’s learning, and educational apps offer the opportunity to do this. Perhaps your app will have homework elements or progress reports so parents can easily understand how their child is developing.

Incorporating the needs of all of the above: students, teachers and parents; will help you develop a really great educational app.

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