I have my own criteria for evaluating educational apps and I intend to write some posts over the next few weeks that focus on what to look out for Apps in particular subject areas. In the meantime, here are a few general hints to help you pick the good from the bad.
In the App Store
- Check the Top Lists in the App store. Most of them are not educational Apps, but occasionally you find one in the list that is really, REALLY good.
- Read the reviews in the iTunes store and look at the ratings. The store only shows reviews for the most recent version of an App, so make sure you click the All Versions tab.
- Look at the screen shots. Some Apps have a lot while some may only have one or two. A good App will show you the main features of the App, and you should be able to see any main menu screens.
- Read the extended description of the App. Strangely enough, dodgy English is not always indicative of the App having poor English, but you should be alert.
- Is there a free version? If you can’t tell by looking at the list of other Apps by the same publisher, enter the publisher’s name or the app’s name into the iTunes search box and it may come back with a Free version. It might also use the term Lite or Demo.
The Daily App Show is a video podcast that demos an app each day, giving you a guided tour of an App. You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes, or you can download any of the hundreds they have available. They have a podcast for the iPad (also featuring some iPhone apps) and a second podcast for android devices. They also have a website at dailyappshow.com
Best Apps for Kids – http://bestappsforkids.com/ – This is a well-organized website that has reviews of educational Apps organised into different subject areas. They occasionally give away codes for the iTunes App store, but you have to get in quick.
Apps for Children with Special Needs – http://a4cwsn.com/ – this is a brilliant place to start if you have a child with special needs, although the apps will be relevant to students in early childhood and primary school. Apart from text reviews, this site offers many video reviews so you can see Apps in action before you buy.
Your Own Reviews
If you find an App you like, make sure you give it a ranking and a review on iTunes. Visit the Apps’ developer website and contact them with any features you’d like to see added. There are many great Apps that just keep getting better with each update as the developers respond to user feedback.
Complain via an iTunes review and star ranking if an App is not as great as it should be. It will help other people from losing their money on a dud App and might encourage the developers to improve it.
Is there an educational App you love? Let me and other readers know about it by leaving a comment below.
- Can Smartphones Make Kids Smarter? (education.com)