Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Quality Over Quantity

With iPads becoming the new technology tool in education technology since the SmartBoard, it is no surprise that App quality over quantity has become a topic of interest to many school districts.  With over 275,000 Apps currently available for the iPad alone, it becomes easier and easier to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of Apps.

It becomes all too easy for a school district to look at the total cost of an App as its only differentiator, leaving the odds of getting an App to help advance student achievement very slim.  However, this in no way means that we all need to purchase the most expensive Apps and hope they are the best available for learning.

A better approach is to have a select set of technology leaders test the Apps, and rank them using a rubric or education-focused scoring system.  This not only helps clearly show which Apps are more achievement focused, but also keeps others from buying the same sub-par App as someone else.  This method also allows a school district to focus on having the same high scoring applications available district-wide.

By having the same high scoring Apps available to all same grade level students district-wide, equity can be guaranteed that the same learning advantages are available to all students in the district.  No longer will one school have an advantage over another simply because of their use of a certain App versus a different one.  Each student should have access to the same tools, regardless if that tool is an iPad App or a #2 pencil.

The same idea is true for districts with very limited funds for Apps.  It is important to remember that just because you may not have the money right away to buy several Apps, you may be better off than you think.  The iPad is an amazing learning tool by itself, even without extra paid Apps. With the use of the iPads built-in features, as well as the decent catalog of free and trial Apps available from the App Store, students can easily excel just as if they had unlimited funds.

Due to the extensive App catalog available, and the built in features offered by the iPad itself, the educational possibilities are almost limitless.  This remains true as long as Apps are reviewed by a core group of individuals, and that group uses a rigorous rubric to review educational Apps before large purchases are made. While there is more upfront work required with a structured evaluation process in place, the benefits down the road in terms of the educational benefit to children, as well as fiscal savings for the district itself, are well worth the effort.

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