Guest Post: Developing Apps for Classroom Use

Today’s guest post is by Julie Landry Laviolette, founder of Story Bayou, Inc. She discusses the challenges of developing apps for the classroom. Her book app, Brush of Truth, has been recognized nationally for its appeal to reluctant readers. Brush of Truth was named 2012 Media of the Year in Interactive Books by Creative Child Magazine.

I started out as a mom who wanted to get kids to read more. That’s how I ended up writing Brush of Truth, a book app for kids 8-12 that lets the reader choose what happens next in a story. I developed it as a full-length book, with about 125 pages of text, so that kids could interact with a story that had some plot development.

When Brush of Truth was launched in February 2012, I debuted it in a fourth-grade language arts class at Beth Emet Elementary School in Cooper City, Florida. As the kids team-read the app on iPads, iPod touches and Android tablets, the teacher pulled me aside.

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“You should develop lesson plans to go with the app,” she told viagraonline-cheapbest me. “It would make it easier for teachers to use in class.”

Through networking with educational technology groups on Linked In, I met Cyndie Sebourn, a National Board Certified Teacher who had 20 years of experience in the classroom. Sebourn was in the process of developing her own app, Smarty Britches: Nouns. She also had just started to help book app makers like me with lesson plans.

Sebourn went on to found Apps with Curriculum, a company that creates lesson plans for apps that are aligned with Common Core State Standards and Bloom’s Taxonomy. She has developed Project-Based Learning exercises, research projects and worksheets for several educational book apps. She focuses on 21st Century Learning Skills like collaboration, creativity and engagement. Apps sildenafil vs viagra being developed with lesson plans for classroom use are still in its infancy. Here are some of the challenges I see as educational technology evolves:

There’s no card catalog

The iTunes app store has more than 500,000 apps, with no clear way to find an educational app about a certain topic or skill. Sites like www.AppyMall.com list educational apps by learning skill and grade level, are trying to help teachers and parents cut through the clutter, but there is still a long way to go.

Teachers rely on word-of-mouth to find apps

I’ve joined LinkedIn and Facebook groups where teachers post things like, “I’m looking for a math app to use with my fourth-graders,” and other educators will chime cialis coupons rite aid in with recommendations. Though there are review sites run by educators and moms, such as Digital Storytime and The iMums, that give thorough generic-cialis4health feedback to app shoppers, there are also less trustworthy “review” sites that are simply advertising vehicles, with no content curator.

Budgets are limited

Many teachers that I’ve met through Facebook groups like Educational App Talk, which is run by Teachers With Apps, use their personal iPad in class. There is often no school budget for devices or apps, so some teachers spend their time at Facebook “parties” where educational app developers give out promo codes for educators to try their app for free.

There’s typically no app training

Teachers who are lucky enough to get grants or funding for iPad carts or Kindles often have little additional budget for purchasing educational apps or training around what apps to buy.

There’s no one-size-fits-all lesson plan

When I polled teachers about what kinds of lesson plans they would like to see with a book app, some said don’t bother with genericviagra4sexlife reading comprehension or grammar. But others said a mix of group research projects, cialis online worksheets and creative writing exercises would offer teachers a variety. Although this is just anecdotal, I’ve found it’s a challenge to come up with a model to suit the masses.

It’s hard to be found

Unless you’re Disney, Scholastic or Dora, most likely parents and teachers have never heard of your app. This presents a unique marketing challenge to small, independent book app developers, who are often mom-and-pop shops putting out a single or just a handful of apps, or a mom trying to get more kids to read.

How do you discover educational apps? We want to know! Sound off in the comments below…