This past week I had the pleasure of coming across a sensational new app and it got me thinking about what does an app need to make it an exceptional educational experience… Well, first off, I would have to say unprecedented intuitiveness is the key factor. Children of all ages are not going to read a “how to” and teachers and parents don’t want to. An app that opens and is self-explanatory by use alone is what all of us want, reading instruction is not something anyone looks forward to. A short video tutorial is another option or a voice over is also fine. What else does a sensational app have that a good app might be lacking? The general appearance is paramount; it must be visually polished and inviting. Quality content with an engaging, engrossing and enjoyable learning experience is also at the top of the list.
What sets apart the great from the good? Expansion, depth and layering of the intended learning goal is essential. This may be demonstrated by containing several approaches to the same intended learning outcome. A clear, simple yet challenging level of sophistication is also key component. Seamless transitions throughout the app are another contributing factor in pushing a good app up a notch toward excellence.
Obviously, there are some basic must have’s as well. The great app will be free of glitches or bugs, have a smooth functioning interface and, as far as most schools are concerned, no in-app purchases or advertisements. Shelf life is also a major factor in any circumstance. The interactivity must go beyond tapping for tapping’s sake and have an intended purpose. A homepage and easy access from screen to screen including a back button are also part of this formula. This may seem trivial, but once I was reviewing a lengthy book and there was no option to return to a specific page without repeated swiping.
The following bullets are a snippet by Dr. Jonathan Reed from his blog Child Neuropsychology
- Is the app based on learning theory? There is increasing knowledge about how children learn.
- For younger children are there spoken instructions rather than written instructions?
- What happens if the child gets an answer wrong?
- What are the reward structures?
- Is there any research showing that the app improves learning?
- Is there a randomized presentation? Just going through the same structure each time does not encourage learning.