Is an Educational App more than just an Educational App?
We have been very busy throughout the last week as we attended NESTA’s talk with Martha Lane Fox (we feature at 74:50) on the future of the digital economy in the UK as well as an intense few days at BETT13 where we met up with the leading EdTech companies who shall be coming to a school near you very soon!
The common theme in all of the events is how we can best make and use new digital tools in order to optimise the learning potential of students in society. Whilst the debate centres around the “killer app” or the “killer innovation tool” that will help us all engage and learn, the overall impression is that we are still at the beginning of the climb towards the pinnacle of its full potential. Only until the true digital natives (those born in the late nineties and early noughties) of our generation have the computer science skills and every day ease of interaction with the digital interface, will we actually begin to fulfill the potential of the technology. In the meantime, all we can do is debate from behind our papers and pencils as to what truly is or is not an “educational app”.
However, if we are to be truly open, perhaps it is time to consider apps that are more general in their usage with the potential to engage and create the collaborative learning environments that are becoming so common place in our labour economies. For example, take Skype; you can use it to talk with friends anywhere in the world… or, you can use it to learn languages or to learn an instrument. There is also Twitter, the one with all the chatter on anything and everything in 140 characters or less. Here is how the teacher community is embracing it:
Furthermore, YouTube has also gotten in on the act with its own Education Channel so that students, parents and teachers can navigate content for hours and hours.
But, what is interesting, is that these popular (and old in digital terms as they have been around for at least five years now) digital platforms have only implemented some of the potential that they can bring to the education industry now. Whilst the beauty of tech is that the consumer picks it up and is creative with its usage, perhaps it is time to widen the scope for the broader good in society. After all, when you enter the digital economy, there is no going back.