Finding the Charlottes in the Web

With more than 1/2 million apps now in i-Tunes (double what it was a year ago) the latest guestimation is that there are over 53,000 apps active in the Education Category. It seems everyone and their brother is developing apps, some in their garages, others in state of the art studios. Add the harsh reality that there are a myriad of platforms for developers to promote their apps with, via websites, blogs, Facebook, twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, iPapers, Scoop-it, podcasts, et al. How do you discern which apps are stellar education tools?

You can't depend on Apple. Your rating in iTunes can spike or disappear completely in a matter of hours. Being featured in New & Noteworthy while at first may seem an incredible honor, is actually not all it's cracked up to be. In addition, some of the biggest and best brands that nailed it when creating educational games for the web have fallen on their faces when attempting to transform their concepts into app form. And now, as exciting as it is to have interactive textbooks at your fingertips for a fraction of the cost of a hardcopy, it makes us a bit wary as virtually anyone can write a textbook, have it published in the all-new iTunes U, and precipitously it becomes the property of Apple.

So how do we as teachers and parents find those gems of an app that will stand the test of time, have a long shelf life, and become beloved classics like Charlotte's Web or Oregon Trail? Good question. Throwing in the fact that the average price of an educational app is $.99 just adds to the problem. Consumers have grown accustomed to paying these ridiculously low prices for apps, a price point of $4.99 might be considered outlandish. Have you bought a friend a cup of coffee lately? Recently, some schools have developed their own rubric to assess the educational value of apps and this is a step in the right direction, here is a rubric you can download from eMobilize at the edudemic site.

Now that the votes are in and tallied, and all the awards have been given out for the Best of 2011, we have noticed that there are vast discrepancies in these lists. One reason is that it's virtually impossible to name all the best, there are many. But there are also lists that look as though the author has just gone down a best seller list somewhere. The reason for this post, beside being a cathartic experience for the writers, is to ask once again - who do you trust? Naturally, we hope it's us at Teachers With Apps. We learn every app we review inside and out, field test all apps with a cross-section of students, and then, and only then, we write a review if the app stands up to our rigorous standards. Here are a few other resources that we recommend or that you can't go wrong with. In closing, always remember, not all educational apps are created equal.

A few of the other sites that we feel provide quality and that you can depend on...

Appitic is a directory of apps for education by Apple Distinguished Educators to help you transform teaching and learning. These apps have been tested in a variety of different grade levels instructional strategies and classroom settings.

a4wcsn Apps for Children with Special Needs (a4cwsn) is committed to helping the families and carers of children with special needs and the wider community of educators and therapists who support them, by producing videos that demonstrate how products designed to educate children and build their life skills really work from a user perspective. Our aim is that these videos, along with relevant information and advice from an independent source you can trust, provides valuable insight into whether a product is suitable for its intended purpose or not, enabling sensible buying decisions to be made.

Musicians With Apps Rebecca Fuller is an active music teacher, a professional performing musician, and a mom of young musicians with apps. She feels that the speed and ease of learning are incredible with today’s technology and tends to use it to its fullest. Rebecca aims to only feature the best of the best here.

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