Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Article excerpt

Start Your App Search With a Question

At this writing, online stores offer nearly 2.5 million apps for Apple and Android devices. Narrow that down to educational apps, and they still number a hefty 80,000 for Apple devices alone, and that doesn't count noneducational apps that may serve an educational purpose. So, how do we swim in this ever-growing sea of apps?


Begin with a question

So often, we see apps being used in education simply because they're popular (as evidenced by their ranking or rating in the app stores). Typically, teachers will download an app, then look for a way to fit it into the curriculum. This is backward. We should think first about what we want our students to be doing, and then curate the available apps to find those that most closely meet the need.

Taking notes

So, we may ask: "Which apps allow my students to take better notes and do it collaboratively?" This frames the search not just to replicate what students already may do in a paper notebook but to find a tool to make the task more effective. Consequently, we find some great note-taking tools like Evernote, Penultimate, Skitch, neu.Notes, and neu.Annotate (see "On the web"). In each of these tools, students can pen their own notes, mark up documents, add their own graphs, images, or data tables, and even use the onboard webcam or microphone while doing so.

Annotating videos

Another question we hear is "How can students use pictures and video more creatively and effectively?" Coach My Video and Coach's Eye, though not categorized as educational, are good tools allowing teachers to mark up students' videos collected, say, in a lab or field study and allowing students to annotate scenes in the video. Fotobabble allows students to personalize the still images they collect, adding voice-over narrations, while Skitch lets students mark up digital images to better explain what the observer is seeing.

Creating concept maps

In another phase of scientific inquiry, we may want students to show their understanding of the evidence collected during a lab. This time, the question might be: "How can my students create and share concept maps to brainstorm and generate visual representations of their thoughts? …

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