It is true that mobile apps invaded our lives quite rapidly within the last 8 years. And we’re all witnessing how they conquered almost every aspect of our daily routine, from listening to music, checking the weather conditions or even make a last minute reservation on our favorite restaurant.
It doesn’t come as a surprise then, that the number of the so-called educational apps has grown very fast during these years. Just try typing “educational app” to any app store and you will get a tone of applications that are self-characterized as educational. However, there are crucial questions such as “are they all educational?”, “Will they indeed help my kids learn something useful while having fun?”, or “Is there a common definition of an “educational app?” that are still unanswered.
You may have heard some definitions about educational software but what about the mobile world specifically? Well, we can safely say that this lack of a common defintion is leading to serious misunderstandings of what an educational app can be. And typically, you might have experienced getting (or buying) an app that doesn’t help learners develop or practise certain skills, although appearing as educational.
This problem can be solved by reviewing the potential educational apps but here comes problem no.2, the lack of structured and scientific ways of reviewing them.
Scientists in this area typically believe that it is not possible to compose a commonly accepted set of objective criteria that one can check in order to deem if a mobile application is indeed educational. They do claim that there are different but important elements which help in the education and the learning process, mainly due to multiple factors, approaches and specific features of each type of educational software/app and due to the nature itself of the evaluation. So, different types of education require different evaluation methods.
However, our thesis is that there are these fundamental elements concerning the user interface and the didactics that are common in any app so that a child can learn while playing. So what should a teacher take into consideration when he chooses an app to use in the classroom?
(*The second and last part of the “Learning how to review educational apps” article will be available on the next Scientix post! Make sure to check it out!).
Article written by: Ioanna Kanellopoulou, co-founder and the Head of R&D and Marketing at http://37toystreet.com/