Guest blogger - Janet Hutchinson
Janet has recently taken on learning about instructional technologies for the classroom. Part of her time has been learning about iPads, their usefulness as a classroom tool and related apps. We've gotten into a few discussions about some of the questions that arise when looking at some of these 'educational tools.' Do these apps add anything to the reading experience? Are they educational, entertaining, distracting or altogether off-putting? Do they replace the physical book? What is lost without the physical book if anything? and so on.
Finding current books that direct you to worthy apps is important however fleeting their relevancy.
With my new-found interest in iPads and apps (OK, who am I kidding, I have always been a bit of a geek….), I have been discovering books that are about technology and technology integration into the classroom. One could argue that by the time a book gets through the stages of production, at least 30,000 new apps will have been introduced in the iTunes store (that’s a conservative estimate – a quick Google tells me that according to about.com, apps available on iTunes have gone from 50,000 in June of 2009 to 775,000 in January of 2013 – other sites cite different numbers. The point is, it is a quickly growing market). However, whether these apps are useful or achieve learning goals can be difficult to measure without some reading and thinking about incorporating them into the classroom.
I have been reading several books about technology and technology in the classroom to help me with understanding this process. Tammy has asked me to review some of what I am finding.
So the first book that I am reviewing is Apps forlearning – middle school iPad, iPod touch and iPhone by Harry Dickens and Andrew Churches.
There are several reasons why I liked this book. To start, the authors have not covered huge numbers of apps. They have selected 5 to 8 apps in each category and expanded on how a student or teacher might use this in learning and research.
I also liked the fact that the chapters were broken down by subject area. For example, the Social Studies chapter lists 6 apps and gives examples of the types of information that a student might gather from the app, or how the teacher might use the app in their classroom.
Each chapter ends with a brief synopsis of each app listed in the chapter, along with the URL, the purchase price and the device availability. (If you are Canadian, some of the apps listed are American based, so might be of limited use in some aspects of the curriculum – but I am continually on the lookout for quality Canadian apps that mirror some of the American ones I have found – I’ll keep you posted.)
Finally, the authors have not limited themselves to curriculum subject. They have devoted several chapters to basics, literacy, apps and tools for sharing and talking and tools for creating.
This book might get dated quickly – but the authors’ principles about what to look for in an app and why it is important to integrate them into the classroom mirrors much of my thinking on the subject.
And the other reason I liked this book? Most chapters feature at least one app that I thought would be great for classroom use. Nothing like positive reinforcement in a field where I feel like as much as I have learned, I still have so far to go!!