Thoughts About Educational Apps by Tablet Winner Nathan Sullivan

I’m a big fan of apps – you can have so much useful content and functionality in the palm of your hand. So for me using apps in education seems a brilliant idea. Most people my age own a smartphone or another mobile device that has the ability to download apps like a tablet or an iPod touch. The shift from seeing mobile devices as a distraction in the classroom to tools that aid learning and make education a lot more accessible is happening very fast.

The main educational app I use is Edmodo – Edmodo is a website (with an app) that is rather like Facebook in style except it is used for education. The app includes a news feed with posts from the community, assignments can be set and turned in on Edmodo with feedback, quizzes completed and files used for work can be uploaded by the teacher. You join a group using a group code (having access to your teacher and your class). The main use here is that this can all be accessed from your phone or tablet reminding you to get work done or to check useful materials uploaded by your teacher. This gives you the freedom to extend the space for learning and allows you to connect to resources outside the classroom.

Another useful educational app I use is Edexcel Past Papers. There are many past paper apps around, but this is my favourite. It provides past paper questions, mark schemes and examiner comments for different levels – GCSE, IGCSE, GCE, Diplomas, Functional skills etc. Rather than using a search browser to find, for example,  a topic about ‘Edexcel AS Modern History Civil Rights’ and get lost in results, you can simply find it in this app without a problem. Another advantage is that the search filter has a better interface and is faster than the search browsers.

At school, when revising for GCSE Maths, we watched revision videos supplied by an organization called Maths Watch. They also had an app which contains watch all their videos. For some students, watching videos is a good way to learn and revise but of course everyone learns in different ways. The point I’m trying to make here is there are apps for all different styles of learning – past papers, videos, quizzes, flashcard apps, etc. One of the advantages of apps is that there is an app for almost anything!

In my opinion, any app that aids learning is educational. I don’t think that an app has to be explicitly for ‘educational’ purposes to be educational. For example YouTube has a lot of educational videos and other videos used in class. So the YouTube app/website has educational aspects even though it is not explicitly marketed as educational (which makes sense as the majority of content isn’t educational). But however the use of apps like YouTube can be used in conjunction with specifically educational apps that guide you and keep you on the right track.

As I recently won a Nexus 7 tablet from the Educational App Store and since then I have downloaded educational apps like Past Papers and Edmodo. I’m a few months from starting my driving lesson so I will be looking for a theory revision app for driving.

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