What are Mobile Apps?

There is a revolution that is taking place in software development that parallels the changes in recent years in the music, publishing, and retail industries. Mass market is giving way to niche market, and with it, the era of highly priced large suites of integrated software has shifted to a new view of what software should be. Smartphones such as the Galaxy, iPhone, and Android have redefined what we mean by mobile computing, and in the past three to four years, the small, often simple, low-cost software extensions to these devices — apps — have become a hotbed of development. New tools are free or sell for as little as 99 cents. A popular app can see millions of downloads in a very short time, and that potential market has spawned a flood of creativity that is instantly apparent in the extensive collections available in the app stores. These retail phenomena provide an easy, fast, and totally new way to deliver software that reduces distribution and marketing costs significantly. Apple’s app store opened in July 2008; Google’s followed in October of that year. By September 2012, more than 55 billion apps had been sold or downloaded; simple but useful apps have found their way into almost every form of human endeavor. Mobile apps are particularly useful for learning as they enable people to learn and experience new concepts wherever they are, often across multiple devices.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • "There's an app" to answer this question: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.intel.mobilescenarios - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Jan 24, 2014
  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 26, 2014 Once again, the biggest factor is affordability. Many iPad apps are free, or cost less than a dollar! And even when you do have to pay more, bigtime apps like Pages and Numbers are 10 bucks apiece. Compare this to what Microsoft Office costs! You'll love this: If you buy iPad apps for your school, you're familiar with the volume discount program. Well, there is no such thing in countries like Mexico yet. Until there is, we get to pay ONCE for an app and install it on as many devices as we want! We're hoping Mexico NEVER gets the volume discount program! ;) Many of our teachers are bemoaning the fact that we want a standardized set of apps, but we're talking about 50 or more at a time. Never before was such quantity and variety possible. And you can't beat the ease of downloading and installing within minutes. I'm hoping that non-app companies will wise up to the competition too. At the next school they're desperately looking for a way to continue using the Adobe Creative Suite. Even with Adobe's new "cloud solution," the costs are ridiculous. I put together a suite of apps that does darn near what ACS does for a few dollars. Mobile apps are the "great equalizer," which has implications for the Digital Divide, Social Media, etc. Of course, mobile apps make Mobile Learning, Tablet Computing, etc., possible. I'm hoping that our students might actually use their iPads somewhere outside the classroom! ;)- mtaylor mtaylor Jan 27, 2014It is opening up a wonderful area to explore authenticity in technology. To be able to produce and run apps in schools is a developing area. That Apple make it harder than it should be, will hopefully fall by the wayside. Students can create an app and test it at school!
    Apps and mobile devices are developing helping develop asynchronous learning though QR readers to access information, camera apps and map overlays, cloud computing access and storage in the 'field'. The classroom just went on the road...
    Many of these apps also support improve productivity such as Evernote, Jotnot (mobile scanning) Dropbox etc
  • It takes learning to kids' fingertips.... it helps blur the lines between formal and informal learning... it is cross platform - Win 8, Google, Android, iOS, etc. It goes beyond the device. - kstubbs kstubbs Feb 6, 2014 Some powerful and affordable apps for students with disabilities too - life / game-changing! - roger.blamire roger.blamire
  • Apps provide easy access to content and natural UIs. They will continue on a trajectory to replace printed textbooks, assessment systems, and provide means to gather data to enrich student information systems toward learning through personalization. - russell.beauregard russell.beauregard Feb 10, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I believe this description is thorough.
  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 26, 2014 A great description. Although it's Apple-centric, I'd like to see a mention of the concept of synching apps between iPads, iPhones and plain ol' MacBooks.- mtaylor mtaylor Jan 27, 2014I think we need to clearly define what we mean by an app as opposed to software 'a self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfill a particular purpose; an application, esp. as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.' (Google) That this piece of software will work on smartphones, tablets etc. Sounds obvious but may save confusion later. It is also prudent to not only highlight the rush for apps to market but also the design process by which these are developed. Implementing Software Development Kit (SDK) programs in schools may give rise to more thoughtful and meaningful development and less garbage (though sometimes the garbage spawns the greatest discoveries -penicillin). Included in this should be the pedagogical support for a design cycle and app development.
  • It seems to be aimed at the content consumption apps. I see the power of apps for creating to be the most significant type.- kathleenschrock kathleenschrock Feb 2, 2014kathleenschrock
  • - bobmoore bobmoore Feb 4, 2014Student Privacy is a HUGE issue with the use of mobile apps. Many apps are constantly collecting data about the usage of the individual and shares that data with other apps, and as a result, companies and organizations. There are serious implications for FERPA and COPPA.- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • I think I'd emphasize all the platforms - Win 8, in addition to Google, Android and iOS, or de-emphasize the platform. You might also add in note about worldwide/global learning opportunities. - kstubbs kstubbs Feb 6, 2014
  • You might also add that kids are increasingly users of multiple devices - and the relevance of apps for this type of daily living/learning. - kstubbs kstubbs Feb 6, 2014
  • I agree with Bob regarding the implications of FERPA and COPPA. There is rarely any consideration given to these when a teacher decides to use an app for instruction. Also, the seamless movement across platforms is important.- mike.jamerson mike.jamerson Feb 9, 2014
  • Mike and Bob are right on target. There is certainly a great educational opportunity with mobile apps to provide powerful learning in mobile environment AND it also raises great policy issues when users (teachers and students) make decisions on "clickware" agreements. No longer are RFP and contractual policies by the school system determining how we comply with law. - keith.krueger keith.krueger Feb 9, 2014kkrueger 2028612676- keith.krueger keith.krueger Feb 9, 2014- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014This are is going to be so important in the next few years. The coming conflict between teachers over the valid as well as productive use of many apps combined with the rising concern at Board and Cabinet level to remain compliant with the laws is going to be a major issue. Determining how to bridge the rightful privacy of students with the value of free and inexpensive apps is cricital.
  • Personalization and formative assessments. Apps continue on a trajectory to replace printed textbooks, assessment systems, and provide means to gather data to enrich student information systems. Privacy will be controversial until the value of the data to teaching and learning is weighed as part of the equasion - russell.beauregard russell.beauregard Feb 10, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • I think apps extend the classroom. Increasing numbers of students are bringing their devices (smart phones and tablets) to the classroom allowing for the use of apps. This kind of technology also opens the door to 'place-based' education, taking learning outside classroom walls and into the community where learning becomes highly relevant and engaging.- deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Jan 24, 2014 - roger.blamire roger.blamire
  • Yes, Deborah's point emphasizing the mobility of mobile apps is very important. Quantity, variety, affordability are too. Synching is up there, as well. For example, I have Google Drive on my personal MacBook Pro, the school MacBook, my iPad and iPhone. Now that's power! ;) http://appadvice.com/applists/show/ipad-apps-with-great-mac-apps
  • - mtaylor mtaylor Jan 27, 2014 Agreed, as I said the flat classroom of the 2000's just wnet on the road because of apps and mobile devices. Teachable moments are now all around us and can be supported by technology.
  • The concept of apps is much more about personalization and can become an effective resource to customize teaching and learning. Students will often find these resources on their own. Apps are always available on the users mobile device making them convenient and accessible. - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014
  • The ability of creation apps allows a student to showcase mastery of knowledge in a way he/she feels comfortable-- they could make a movie, a screencast, draw a comic strip, make a podcast, etc. and still meet the areas outlined on a rubric. Students have a palette of tools like never before with them at all times! - kathleenschrock kathleenschrock Feb 2, 2014kathleenschrock- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • The potential for removing learning barriers and enabling student learning is tremendous. The ability for the app to move seamlessly value of the cloud.- mike.jamerson mike.jamerson Feb 9, 2014
  • With the incredible range of apps the ability to discover apps to bring the experience or interests into the classroom is exceptional. These technologies combine to create what I believe is the most powerful learning environment possible.- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 26, 2014 iPad rollout coming up. Figuring out how best to define the initial set of apps, to add/change/delete later, etc.
  • - mtaylor mtaylor Jan 27, 2014I am developing a Grade 10 app development unit currently for use on android devices. Hong Kong Academy ran a mini pilot in 2013. ISS Singapore has purchased Nexus 7 with the intention of developing a unit.
  • BrainPOP Mobile -http://www.brainpop.com/about/mobile/ As a content provider who traditionally delivered content online, we've worked hard to provide access to BrainPOP on multiple app platforms. As teachers and students are learning in BYOD and multi-device environments, we think it is important to be able to access BrainPOP anywhere. We've also worked hard to provide access via apps to BrainPOP Jr., BrainPOP Espanol, BrainPOP Francias, and BrainPOP ESL. - kstubbs kstubbs Feb 6, 2014
  • We've deployed roughly 7000 iPads grades K-8 in my current district this year. In my previous district we were deploying both BYOD iPad and 1:1 iPad programs at roughly 7 sites. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • Many government piloting large scale deployments of tablets or notebook computers for 1:1 situations around the world create there own apps that includes digital interactive curriculum. - russell.beauregard russell.beauregard Feb 10, 2014
  • Although beyond just 'apps', Amplify is a great example providing specific apps on Android systems in terms on curriculum integration and tools for teachers and students to collaborate effectively in classrooms. http://www.amplify.com/ - russell.beauregard russell.beauregard Feb 10, 2014