There is an App for That! STOP IT!

The move of many educational environments to mobile devices is something that all school should embrace as they offer many benefits to students and teachers.  I have written about this subject in other posts so I will not take space in this post regarding these topics.  What I would like to focus on is one of the benefits which many schools use as a reason to make the move to a mobile device.  This benefit is that the tablet computer can replace many other tools.  Here is a great video showing what it can do!

While this is all good and can be a great place to start, it cannot, in my professional opinion, be the only reason. Nor can the “There’s an App for That” attitude guide decisions about technology integration.  Educators need to keep many things in mind when choosing technology as an option.  Foremost in this process is that technology should be used to improve the lesson.  There are many models which can be used to assist in this process.  The SAMR model is by far the simplest while also being transformative. We should also remember that if technology is not the right choice to assist learning then it shouldn’t be used, there are times when tech can make it worse!  A great post by a friend of mine Alice Keeler, discusses this problem.  As educators, we should always keep in mind that learning in the 21st century requires higher order thinking.  The apps educators choose should help to make the learning more authentic. This guide by Kathy Schrock can assist teachers in understanding how the SAMR model can be used along with Bloom’s Taxonomy to assist in creating lessons which require higher order thinking skills.

Be careful, I have come across some resources that are made to assist teachers in app choice, however, some of these might be helping teachers make the wrong decision.  This rubric is to help teachers choose apps, it is fine if all the apps you are choosing are only for content delivery, however, it does not take into consideration that the iPad should be used for higher order thinking activities such as creation.

I am against using the iPad as a glorified worksheet and many times this is all it is used for.  It is important for kids to use the iPads in a way that best supports learning standards.  The ISTE standards are great skill based standards which can help to guide the creation of technology integration which helps make the learning environment more authentic.  This site allows educators to find apps that support the six ISTE Standards for Students.

Remember, technology should never be used for tech sake.  Shiney and new is not always the best.  When approaching technology integration in your own classroom, always start with the learning objectives, then see if tech can help make your learning experiences more authentic.

Thanks for reading

Shannon Doak


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