There are over 70,000 apps described as “educational” in the iTunes app store alone. Developers hoping to distinguish themselves in this competitive space are looking for a way to validate and improve their apps. A new service called Better Apps aims to help developers deliver their content through a series of yes-or-no questions about their app’s features and user experience.
From their website, Better Apps “helps your apps achieve their educational potential. Our self-assessment and additional services help you to understand the educational strengths and weaknesses of an app.” The goal is to promote a general improvement in design in education apps, making it easier for the truly effective ones to stand out in the crowd.
The startup’s creator, Daniel Donahoo is a prolific blogger and author on technology and education. He frequently contributes to New Media Consortium and Huffington Posts and receives as many as 60 app review requests every week. An afficionado on child development, Donahoo wrote the Children’s App Manifesto last year which was designed to help developers, consumers and investors “strike a balance between [their] respective interests and what’s best for the long-term viability of the market.”
With over 70,000 education apps for iOS alone, it’s easy to assume that not every app developer is an expert in education. Many are probably out to simply make a buck, and because consumers are generally easy to convince of the value of an app claiming to be educational, they’ll probably succeed. Better Apps’s 55 yes-or-no questions require developers at least know some education history and terminology. The education technology news outlet edSurge recommends taking Hack Education’s “Audrey Test” for app developers interested in truly making a difference.
In addition to questions designed to test a developer’s actual knowledge of education, Better Apps asks probing questions about content and the user experience. Does the app prompt further discovery and engage the user to learn more either within or outside the confines of the app? Does the app allow the user to solve different kinds of problems in more than one way?
The fact that the Better Apps assessment comes at a cost is also encouraging. At $24.95 per assessment, only serious app developers will participate. And you won’t want to stop at just one assessment. As your app progresses and evolves, you’ll want to continue assessing yourself to make sure your app retains its educational value. The premium option includes 100 assessments at $990.
Better Apps, as Donahoo describes it, is “not a discovery tool, but a tool to support improved quality in educational apps.” He wants to help those developers who are truly serious in utilizing mobile technology for educational value. Sure, every app developer is interested in turning a profit—and there is nothing wrong with that—but the ones who will turn the biggest profit are the ones who truly care about a student’s development and learning.