Mobile Apps for Learning – What’s Next? Guest Article by Michael Kelley
In my quest for always learning about technology and reporting on it, I came across AACE and was thrilled when they allowed me the chance to write this piece for them. It is wonderful to see such a passionate organization bring information technology education to the world. My goal is to bring a similar message of tech to people through my writing and hope to teach and help people understand the importance of technology in our world today and hope to inspire them to learn more about it.
Bill Gates once said his goal was to see a computer in every home. Today, that is almost the case, except the computer has been replaced by handheld mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, etc. For a lot of kids and older students, this point is especially true since they are surrounded with the internet, computer games, social media, and texting on their smartphones, so it was just a matter of time before these devices infiltrated both elementary and college classrooms. Now schools and teachers include smart devices and education-based apps as an essential part of the standard curriculum.
Education App Sales and Success
In addition to the billions of gaming and business apps downloaded, education apps claim the third top-tier spot with 8.5% of those sales. The reasons for this success are many. First of all, mobile developers build apps around three core elements to draw in users: mobility of technology, mobility of learners, and a focus on the learning process, which can also be mobile. This is an important point since a lot of kids may not have a computer at home, but their families may be able to purchase smartphones or tablets since the cost isn’t so high.
Mobile technology has improved the student experience by allowing students better access to other students and staff, specifically their teachers. This success is the result of mobile app development that offers teachers and other educators a way to improve student engagement, not only through educational apps but apps where teachers can curate digital magazines and other content.
Education Apps Can Improve Learning
Most teachers believe that while they may struggle to get their students to engage with classroom work, they rarely, if ever, have a problem when students use computers or mobile apps. Research shows that student performance escalated from 51% to 60% over a three-month period when using iPad apps. And test scores of fifth graders improved 15% after using a fractions app for 20 minutes a day over a five day period. When students used an algebra app, 20% of them improved to the point they became comfortable with this type of math, and some of them even reached an advanced level.
In another research study, 35% of eight graders became more interested in their subjects when they could use their smart devices, be that a smartphone or tablet. 54% of students, when asked, said they enjoy classes more if there is a technology component, and 55% state that they wish their teachers would use more educational games and simulations when they teach. With the use of technology, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, teachers state their students went beyond academic expectations.
Teachers Teaching with Technology
With all the success and enjoyment students gain from learning with computers and mobile devices, it’s not surprising that 58% of teachers in the United States own a smartphone, 10% more than the national average when it comes to adults. And it’s also not a surprise that most teachers try to work with technology in their classrooms. In fact, 73% of teachers state they use mobile technology during their instruction and for assigning homework and reading material. When asked, 47% of teachers believe that digital literacy courses are essential for students to be successful in academics and the world beyond.
Negatives of Education Technology
But with the positives from using technology and educational apps in the classroom also come the negatives. In addition to the attributes that students using mobile technology may be distracted from their lessons, or they can become overstimulated to the point where mood is affected and stress occurs, teachers not trained in how to use technology in the classroom may suffer with how to connect with them.
Use of technology in the classroom can also lead to possible isolation and alienation. A possible solution to this problem is that future mobile app development in the education area should incorporate group activities. However, the biggest concern is that technology usage detracts from traditional learning. The assertion is If students are just using Google or apps to find answers, critical thinking and creativity are sacrificed.
The Future of Education-Based Technology
With the success of technology and education apps in the classroom like the ones listed here, it’s clear the presence of technology in schools will only grow. However, one of the biggest factors facing app development is that apps must give kids useful and productive screen time. Additionally, developers need to build-in modules in their apps to test that students are really learning and that challenge them to think critically and creatively.
Most importantly, education apps should still be considered as supplemental to the things kids, elementary students, and college students learn from their teachers and professors. But if teachers elect to rely on technology in the classroom as a way to deliver lessons, then in the future technology, should become more adaptive so specific student skills are addressed and student progress can be monitored.
About the author: Michael Kelley, Chief Content Strategist at Fueled