School leaders don’t have to search hard to find popular educational software apps: Lists of the best products by educators, technology providers and industry thought leaders clutter Twitter and the Internet in general.
Some schools and districts find these resources useful, but the the wealth of recommendations can lead to an overload of choices. And because many district leaders lack the technological expertise that would guide them through the selection process, schools often end up with apps that don’t meet the needs of teachers and students.
The US Department of Education hopes to solve this problem by creating an online tool that will help policymakers design a grading rubric specific to the needs of their school or district. This type of resource would allow decisions to be based on evidence, rather than on “the hype or buzz among a small group of peers,” says a 2015 article on the Education Department Homeroom Blog.
Although the Ministry of Education has not yet launched this online tool, a planning checklist posted on EdSurge could help school and district heads in the interim. This mainly focuses on how applications fit into pedagogy.
“Educators should be more intentional and selective about the applications they use to ensure that students are exposed to high-quality tools that maximize learning experiences for all parties involved,” wrote Ross Cooper and Kerry Gallagher, the K-12 tech experts who wrote the list. . The duo recommend asking the following 10 questions when evaluating potential applications:
1. What content do we want students to learn?
2. What skills will our students practice or develop when using this app?
3. Will our students be consumers or creators when they use this app?
4. What are my students’ needs and can this app meet them?
5. Is there a better app that achieves the same goal?
6. Is there a comparable / better app at a lower price?
7. Is there an app on your devices that already does the same?
8. Does the app promote “best practices” from our school and district?
9. How are we going to inform everyone?
10. Have we spoken to the app makers?
By going through this checklist, principals can avoid apps that are all flashy and without substance, Cooper and Gallagher wrote.
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