What Makes a Good Educational App? (Part 4)
Part IV: Provides learners with feedback
The 4th installation in our 6-part blog series will focus on an educational app providing adequate feedback to learners.
If you missed Part 1, click HERE.
If you missed Part 2, click HERE.
If you missed Part 3, click HERE.
The last blog summarized the importance of ensuring the content of a quality educational app relates to the user’s ability level. The consequences of
a mass approach for educational technology were outlined. The post emphasized the individual differences of various learners and how an app has to cater to different learning styles as well as the varying levels of learning difficulty.
Carrying on from that, this blog will explore the interactivity aspect of an app’s content: after adaptation and tracking of the user’s progress, does an app take the extra step in trying to improve the learner?
Feedback can be described as any information given by an agent (teacher, parent, self or in this case, app), pertaining to a learner’s performance or understanding after they have undertaken an activity. It can take many forms including:
• Corrective feedback: where the instruction given is an attempt to rectify some mistakes in the learner’s activity
• Alternative feedback: where the instruction given after the activity suggests another method for the learner to consider.
• Encouraging feedback: Where the feedback given reassures and facilitates the learner’s drive
These are all varying forms of feedback but in actuality effective feedback has elements of all of them. The importance of feedback in education cannot be understated.
Educational research on the topic has suggested that feedback is among the top influences in a learner’s achievements in a list including direct instruction and learner’s previous education level. Evidently, providing feedback is essential for any educational endeavour of good quality.
And for educational technology to integrate smoothly into the learning arena, prioritizing the provision of feedback is vital. There are certain qualities that all effective feedback must possess. This means an educational app should do the following:
The feedback given needs to suit the individual differences of the learner. Using a mass approach diminishes the responsibility the learner has to take if they feel the feedback is generic. Every learner wants to be treated as a person, not a number.
Feedback that is received in a timely fashion increases the chances of the learner taking on the information and applying it. To action effect, an app should immediately visually and/or auditory, provide feedback.
Easy to consume:
A learner’s ability to digest the feedback plays a big part in whether they take it on or not. Having the information delivered to them in a medium that does not overwhelm them (i.e. adapts to their ability level) could be the difference between a mediocre app and a quality one.
Ultimately, for an app to be of good quality is has to engage. If it only offers critical or negative feedback in its attempt to educate, it will lose the interest of the learner rapidly.
In conclusion, in order to really connect with the user and give them the best learning experience from an educational app, the most important thing (which has been a running theme in this blog series) is personalization. Personalization in the feedback makes the learner feel compelled to act upon it if it is immediate, encouraging and easily understood. That combined with a gradual approach to attainment through gamification/ levels and a tracking of their progress will credit any educational app as quality.