How to write Content for Mobile devices

web content adaptation for mobile handheld devices and stream content to mobile devices and content delivery to mobile devices, optimizing content for mobile devices
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Creating a Content Strategy for Mobile Devices in the Classroom by Karen Mahonwww.centeril.org The Center on Innovations in Learning (CIL) is a national content center established to work with regional comprehensive centers and state education agencies (SEA) to build SEAs’ capacity to stimulate, select, implement, and scale up innovations in learning. Learning innovations replace currently accepted standards of curricular and instructional practice with new practices demonstrated to be more eectiv ff e or more efficient in the context in which they are applied. The Center on Innovations in Learning is administered by the Institute for Schools and Society (ISS) at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Academic Development Institute (ADI), Lincoln, Illinois. The Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), under the comprehensive centers program, Award S283B120052-12A. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position of the supporting agencies, and no official endorsement should be inferred. Cover design by Stephen Page. Layout design by Pam Sheley and Stephen Page. ©2014 Center on Innovations in Learning, Temple University, Philadelphia, PACreating a Content Strategy for Mobile Devices in the Classroom Karen Mahon Acknowledgements Thanks to Marilyn Murphy and Janet Twyman for the opportunity to write this manual and contribute to the great work going on at the Center on Innovations in Learning, and to Janet Twyman for her valuable feedback on early versions of this manuscript. Special thanks to Stephen Page for his careful, thorough editing and excellent suggestions. This manual is much improved for his input. Karen MahonTable of CT on T en s What Now? .......................................................................................... 1 Preparing to Select Content ................................................................ 3 Technical Issues ................................................................................. 3 What Plaorm Ar tf e You Using? ................................................... 3 What Devices Are You Using? ..................................................... 4 What Operating System is Running on Your Device(s)? .............. 4 Purpose of the App to be Selected .................................................... 5 Instruction ................................................................................... 5 Creativity ..................................................................................... 5 Tools ............................................................................................ 6 Books ........................................................................................... 6 Selecting Content ................................................................................. 6 Instructional/Skill Acquisition Apps ................................................... 7 Creativity/Skill Extension and Application Apps ................................ 7 Tools .................................................................................................. 8 Books ................................................................................................. 8 How NOT to Select Content ................................................................. 8 Familiarity .......................................................................................... 8 Price ................................................................................................... 8 The Developer’s Description or User Reviews ................................... 8 Popularity .......................................................................................... 9 Colleagues’ Recommendations ......................................................... 9 Special Considerations ........................................................................ 9 Alignment to Standards ..................................................................... 9 Accessibility ..................................................................................... 10 Information Safety—Yours and Your Students’ ............................... 10 Volume Purchasing .......................................................................... 11 Finding Reliable App Recommendations ......................................... 11 Establishing an Acceptable Use Policy ............................................. 12 Compensating for an App’s Shortcomings ....................................... 13 Conclusion .......................................................................................... 14 References.......................................................................................... 14 Appendix 1: Screenshots—Sample App Evaluations ........................ 16 Appendix 2: Technical Checklist Sample ........................................... 25 Appendix 3: Technical Checklist ....................................................... 26 About the Author............................................................................... 27A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices What Now? n the fall of 2013, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the number of apps in Apple’s iTunes store had reached one million (The Verge, 2013). With more than 230 new apps of all kinds submitted to iTunes every day, the number of apps identified as “educational” in the iTunes store has now grown to a staggering 122,000 (148Apps, 2014). Now put these numbers in the context of children’s access to and, presumably, use of mobile devices and apps at home, access which has grown explosively over the last several years. According to a recent study published by the Brookings Insti- tute (West, 2013), 18% of children in Grades K–2 have access to a smartphone, and 26% have access to a tablet device; 45% of third through fifth graders have access to smartphones, and 48% have access to tablets; 65% of sixth through eighth graders have access to smartphones, and 52% have access to tablets; 80% of ninth through twelfth graders have access to smartphones, and 45% have access to tablets. These percentages—up dramatically from just a few years ago—continue to grow daily. The use of mobile devices presents a similar trajectory in U.S. schools. According to PBS LearningMedia (2013), tablets and e-readers saw the biggest increase among technology plaorms a tf vailable for classroom instruction between 2012 and 2013. In February 2013, more than one third (35%) of teachers said they had access to a tablet or e-reader in their classroom, up from 20% a year previously. Among teach- ers with access to tablets, 71% cited the use of educational applications as the most beneficial for teaching. Currently, about 10 million tablet devices are being used in schools and other educational settings. Whenever a large purchase of mobile devices is made for education, the very next question asked is, “Now what?” The concerns up and down the hierarchy of the education system, as devices are implemented, vary. Teachers are concerned about the practical issues of using devices with students and selecting content that helps students learn. School and district administrators want to ensure that their purchas- ing dollars have been used meaningfully and that the devices are being used regu- larly in the classrooms. And state department of education personnel want to know that the implementation of new technologies is helping the students of their state perform at grade level, prepare for college and careers, perform well on standardized tests, and compete favorably with students from other states. But in order for all of these levels of concern to be addressed successfully, the fundamental question of “Now what?” needs to be addressed immediately when the 1A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices devices arrive at an individual school or classroom. It is the planning for and using of the devices as part of an overall approach to the curriculum, locally, that will deter- mine how the interests of different stakeholders are satisfied…or not. This practice guide is intended to help stakeholders in the following ways: • To assist teachers, curriculum and technology specialists, and administrators plan and implement the use of mobile devices and content in schools and districts. • To help administrators understand the content and implementation planning that is required for a successful mobile device implementation before they make a large expenditure on hardware, lest that outlay of money be a waste in the absence of a larger strategy. • To give state education agencies insight into what happens in local schools’ and districts’ planning for content and curriculum as part of a mobile device implementation. The following assumptions have been made in writing this practice guide: • A purchase of mobile devices, a decision about what type of mobile devices to buy, or a decision to implement a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program in the school or district has already been made. Just beginning the process of mobilizing classrooms? Here are a few web resources to help you get started: Creating a School Technology Plan • National Center for Technology Planning: http://www.nctp.com • Universal Service Administrative Company: http://www.usac.org/sl/ applicants/step01/ • North Central Regional Education Laboratory: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/ areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te300.htm Deciding on Devices for a School • eSchool News: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2014/03/04/ choosing-right-mobile-devices-schools/ • K12 Digital Decisions: http://k12digitaldecisions.com Considering a BYOD Plan • EdTech Magazine: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/sites/edtechmaga- zine.com.k12/files/111331-wp-k12-byod-df.pdf • K-12 Blueprin: http://www.k12blueprint.com/byod • TeachThought: http://www.teachthought.com/ technology/20-byod-resources-for-21st-century-school/ 2A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices • A technology plan that addresses the technical aspects of a mobile device implementation—such as sufficient broadband, networking of devices, and device management—has already been established. • The reader is at the point of asking, “Now what?” in addressing content and cur- riculum in the implementation of mobile devices in individual classrooms. So let’s begin with preparing yourself, your classrooms, and your learners. Preparing to Select Content efore selecting particular digital content to use on the devices in the classroom, the teacher or technology director must familiarize herself with some of the technical aspects of the devices she will be using. These technical aspects will provide information that will help in selecting appropriate digital content that is compatible, technically, with the devices a school has purchased. Technical Issues Hardware features and functions (and perhaps limitations) will influence what you and your learners will be able to do with content and how you do it. This first section is about getting to know your device(s) and some background information you’ll need to know as you prepare to build a content strategy. What Platform Are You Using? Before even thinking about content, make sure you know what plaorm (also tf known as “operating system” or “OS”) your device uses and where to shop for con - tent (known as “apps,” short for “applications”) for that plaorm. The t tf echnology director at your school or district can help you with this. The four major plaorms tf and their online “stores” are: • iOS – iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/ios/id36?mt=8 • Android – Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps?hl=en • Chrome – Chrome Web Store: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/ apps • Microsoft Apps for Windows: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/ appsCat=t1 Until recently, iOS-based apps comprised the largest number of educational apps, but iOS numbers have been eclipsed as other plaorms’ off tf erings have grown. In March 2014, iTunes reported having more than 65,000 educational apps for iOS, but, a month earlier, the number of education apps for Android had surpassed 77,000 (AppTornado GmbH, 2014). Chrome and Microsoft are newer entrants to the mobile device industry, and estimates of the number of educational apps in those stores were not available at the time of this writing. If your school or district is implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) pro- gram, the issues are more complex. You are faced with either choosing apps that are cross-plaorm (i.e., built t tf o run on more than one plaorm) or with choosing diff tf erent 3A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices apps for different plaorms. Eithe tf r course may not be easy. In the first case, there are still relatively few educational apps that are developed for multiple plaorms; in the tf second case, search time will be multiplied by the number of plaorms y tf ou are try - ing to accommodate. We’ll talk more about selecting apps shortly, but in the case of BYOD, make sure that you know all of the plaorms y tf ou must accommodate. What Devices Are You Using? Even if your school or district has adopted a particular operating system within a BYOD program, you may still be confronted with a wide range of possible devices. With iOS, there are only a few devices, all manufactured by Apple (iPhone, iPad); but if you are using Android, for example, you may be using a device that is manufac- tured by Sony, Samsung, HTC, Amazon (i.e., Kindle), Barnes and Noble (i.e., Nook), Google, and many others. Why does the device and its manufacturer maer? W tt ell, when developers create apps, they are usually optimized for particular devices or screen sizes. For example, an app that is optimized for an iPhone will not display as nicely on an iPad as will an app that is optimized for the iPad. And an app that is built specifically for the iPad won’t run on an iPhone at all. Similar types of incompat - ibilities exist among the different manufacturer’s Android devices. So you’ll want to be aware of the specific devices used by your students as you start considering the apps that you want to use. When you shop in an app store, you will find a list of all of the devices for which a given app is optimized. Make sure that an app runs on your device(s) before purchasing it. What Operating System is Running on Your Device(s)? If you are using an Apple device, determining the operating system (OS) is fairly straighor tf ward because Apple only has one operating system, iOS, and it is updated periodically; each version is referred to by number, for example, “iOS 7.” When selecting an app, the user should choose an app that supports the current operating system running on the device or an earlier version of the operating system that is still supported by the device (for information on how to check the current iOS running on your device, go to http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2188 ). The same operating system runs on iPhones and iPads, but apps may be optimized for one device or another. Apps that are optimized for iPad cannot run on iPhones; apps that are optimized for iPhone, however, do run on iPads (the graphics are optimized for the smaller screen size so they may appear grainy when displayed on the iPad at approximately twice the optimal size). Many developers optimize for both the iPad and the iPhone. Updates to the iOS operating system are free and the user is alerted, on the device, when an update to the operating system is available. Updates do not happen auto- matically, but must be initiated by the user. If you are using an Android device, determining the OS is more complicated because different device manufacturers support different versions of the AndroidOS. So, you will hear about Android operating systems such as “Ice Cream Sandwich,” “Jelly Bean,” and, most recently, “KitKat.” You’ll need to check and see which version of the operating system your particular device supports. If you are an Android user who shops in the Google Play store, once you synchronize your device with the store, the device will automatically tell you if the app will work on your particular device. 4When developers create apps, they are usually optimized for particular devices or screen sizes. Even on devices made by the same manufac- ture, some apps don’t display well on differ- ently sized screens, and some apps made spe- cifically for one device won’t work on another. A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices Purpose of the App to be Selected After you’ve got the essential technical issues under your belt, the next set of questions has to do with why you’re looking for an app. It’s best to know what you’re trying to accomplish with an app and what functions or coverage you’re looking for before going into the app store, where you’ll undoubtedly be drawn under the spell of all of the really cool-looking apps that are available. In fact, at a recent event held by Google that I aended, t tt eachers, parents, and kids alike said that one of the major factors in their choosing an app was the attractiveness of its icon. It’s sort of the technology equivalent of going to the grocery store when you’re hungry Educational apps fall into four basic categories based on their purpose: instruc- tion, creativity, tools, and books. Which type of app you select will depend on what you expect the learner to do with an app or what you expect an app to do for a learner. Here’s the breakdown: Instruction Apps devoted to instruction aim to teach particular skill sets to learners, establishing initial, simple performances and then building increasingly more complex performances. These apps explicitly teach new skills to learners or help learners gain expertise with those skills. The majority of subject-specific apps fall into this category. Some well-known examples include DragonBox Algebra 5+ (WeWantToKnow AS, 2014), Learn with Homer (Homer- Learning, Inc., 2014), and LetterSchool (Sanoma Media Netherlands B.V., 2013). Creativity Also known as “productivity apps,” creativity apps allow learners to extend and apply their skills to novel situations and make their own “stuff.” These apps do not provide explicit instruction; instead, they provide a virtual sandbox in which learners create their own experi- ence, using skills that have been established previously. Creativity apps enable learners, for example, to make their own e-books, tell a story, assemble a presentation, draw pictures, compose music, or make movies. In these apps, the learning objectives are less specific than those in instructional apps, but learners still must have the necessary entry- level skills for the given creativity app. For example, to use an e-book creation app, a learner would need sufficient writing, reading, spelling, and grammar skills to use it meaningfully. Because learners can produce such a wide array of products using creativity apps, these apps do not provide performance evaluation, which is left to the teacher. Some well-known examples of creativity apps include Explain Everything (MorrisCooke, 2014), Toontastic (LaunchPad Toys, 2014), and Story Cre - ator (Innovative Mobile Apps, 2013). 5A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices Tools Tool apps are those that learners can refer to for more information relevant to whatever topic they happen to be studying. These apps might include reference tools, such as dictionaries, calculators, and periodic tables. They might also provide simulations in which learners can observe animated concepts and phenomena at work, such as the scientific principles of acceleration and gravity. The key with apps of this type is that they don’t evaluate learner interactions for correctness or qual - ity. Instead, most or all of the information is presented passively to the user. Some examples include World Book: This Day in History (Software MacKiev, 2011), GoSky - Watch Planetarium (GoSoftWorks, 2013), and PBS Kids Video (PBS Kids, 2014). Books This category probably seems pretty obvious. Many book apps are just digitized versions of books. But there’s also a subcategory known as “interactive” e-books. What qualifies as “interactivity” can vary widely, from simple scrolling from page to page to more meaningful tasks such as identifying of objects on the screen or answering simple questions. There’s such a range that the descriptor “interactive” is no guarantee an app in this subcategory will prompt educationally relevant learner responses. Now that you know the four basic categories of apps, you can decide what you expect of an app. Do you need a learner to acquire a new set of skills? Does a learner already have a set of component skills and now you want her to extend and apply those skills by creating something new? Or perhaps your students just need a refer - ence tool or a book. Whatever the case, identifying the learning objective that will be serviced by an app will facilitate your search. Selecting Content f you’ve ever shopped for and used apps, whether for use in an educational setting or just for your personal use, then you know that not all apps are created equal. And none of us likes wasting time with apps that don’t do what we hope they will do…or what the app store description says they’ll do So, this section provides a “checklist” of things that will help identify high-quality apps. The citations accompanying the items in the checklist refer to research studies supporting the importance of that feature. Bear in mind that the more specific the learning objective that you’re trying to address, the more closely the app will need to be evaluated to make sure that specific skill is taught. For example, if you want an app that will help a learner solve algebraic equations, that is a more specific skill than is creating a movie or reading a book. Plan on spending more time doing a more complete evaluation for the specific skills. Below, I have listedthe features, by category, that indicate that an app is of high quality. 6A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices Instructional/Skill Acquisition Apps • Feedback: The app provides immediate feedback following both correct and incorrect answers; the feedback is noticeably different for correct vs. incorrect answers (e.g., Azevedo & Bernard, 1995; Van Houten, 1984). • Adaptive Difficulty: The difficulty of the material increases and decreases auto- matically, depending on the learner’s performance. This adaptation happens on-the-fly, without the learner or an adult needing to change the settings on the app (e.g., Tsai, Kinzer, Hung, Chen, & Hsu, 2013). • Mastery-based: The app requires the learner to achieve mastery of the current skill set before being allowed to progress to the next level (e.g., Kulik & Kulik, 1990). • High Numbers of Relevant Responses: The app provides plenty of opportuni- ties for the learner to practice the skills related to the learning objective (e.g., Greenwood, Delquadri, & Hall, 1984). • Clear Learning Objectives: A skill that a teacher or parent can observe a learner doing is clearly described in the app or app description. This means that what the learner does and the conditions under which the aemp tt t occurs must be defined clearly enough so that two people can agree on whether or not it is happening (e.g., Ericsson & Lehmann, 1996). • Performance Reports With Actionable Data: Learner performance data are reported with enough detail for a teacher or parent to target problem areas. For example, if the app targets phonics, the report should include details of accura- cy with specific leer–phoneme c tt orrespondences, not a simple percent correct for the whole skill category (e.g., Wayman, 2005). • Usability: The app should be easy to use, with simple instructions (either textual or graphic) of how to interact with the interface (e.g., Gerhardt-Powals, 1996). Additionally, the images and sounds included in an app should be relevant to the learning activity, not distracting for the learner (Mayer, Heiser, & Lonn, 2001). And finally, the reading level of the app should be appropriate for the lowest age of learner identified by the app developer (e.g., Hanna, Risden, Czer - winski, & Alexander, 1998). Creativity/Skill Extension and Application Apps • A high-quality app includes clear instructions for the user and, if necessary, tuto- rials (e.g., Gerhardt-Powals, 1996). • The layout of the screen can be used eectiv ff ely on a mobile device, with its small screen size. • The product created by the learner can be exported via common file formats (that will allow the product to be used in other ways—e.g., pdf, doc, ppt) and saved. • Files—such as images, sounds or movie clips—may be imported into the app. • The prerequisite skills that the learner will need to use the app eectiv ff ely are clearly described. • Preferably, the app allows students to collaborate with each other. 7A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices Tools • The information included in the tool is accurate. • The tool is intuitive and easy to use (e.g., Gerhardt-Powals, 1996). • The information is presented clearly. • The reading level is appropriate to the age of the learner (e.g., Hanna, Risden, Czerwinski, & Alexander, 1998). Books • The reading level of the book is appropriate to the age of the learner (e.g., Hanna, Risden, Czerwinski, & Alexander, 1998). • The content of the book is appropriate for the age of the learner. How NOT to Select Content o far, this practice guide has identified what to look for in apps. Almost as important as features to look for are selection criteria to avoid when choosing apps for your learners. Familiarity As consumers, we often buy products from companies with brands that we recognize. In the educational app market, those recognizable brands are often large educational publishers and media companies. But just because these companies make great textbooks, movies, and television shows doesn’t necessarily mean they will make great educational apps. Apps produced by these companies tend to be very visually appealing, oftentimes with familiar characters from other media, but are hit and miss with respect to instructional quality. Price How many of us have shopped for a product and bought the one that was priced “kind of in the middle,” on the one hand, because we didn’t really want to spend to buy the most expensive option, and, on the other, because the cheap or free options couldn’t possibly be good. I know that I’m guilty of that. But in educational apps, price doesn’t predict quality. At Balefire Labs, we recently ran some analyses of the more than 1,300 app reviews that we’ve completed. When we ran a correla- tion between price and quality score, we found that there is no relationship between price and quality (r = 0.0547) (Balefire Labs, 2013, October 29). This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spring for apps that you pay for. It just means that you can’t assume that an expensive commercial app is any beer than a less e tt xpensive one, or that either is beer than a fr tt ee one. The Developer’s Description or User Reviews If you’ve been to any of the app stores lately, you’ve probably noticed something: Pretty much all of the apps claim that they will teach your kids. And if you’ve down- loaded any variety of educational apps, you know that’s simply not so. And those 8A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices “user reviews” that appear below the app description have some problems with objectivity. We would expect that developers’ friends and families would post very flaering r tt eviews of a product. But what I was surprised to learn—call me naïve—is that sometimes competitors try to sabotage each other by posting negative reviews in the app stores. It seems to be a widely acknowledged problem in app developer circles. The upshot is this: You can’t completely rely on the information in the app store. Popularity It’s obvious that “Top 10” Charts are based on number of downloads, but for some educational apps, there may be good pedagogical reasons for their reaching the top of the charts. Of course, my colleagues and I at Balefire Labs got curious about that, so we went to one of the app stores and downloaded the top 10 paid apps from the education category and I reviewed them all. We found that we could recommend only two of the top 10 apps based on their instructional quality (Balefire Labs, 2013, August 26). So, it’s useful to remember that a lot of people buying an app does not necessarily mean it’s a good app. Colleagues’ Recommendations This might be the most tempting option of all. You hear from a friend or col - league or reviewer that the kids they work with liked the app, and they’re sure your kids will like it, too. But here’s the thing: Learners like being successful. If kids say they like an app, it’s likely to be (at least in part) because they have the necessary skills to use the app successfully. This doesn’t mean that kids only like to use apps that are easy for them—quite the opposite. They like to be challenged, just not to the point at which they lack the skills to continue to make progress. Although your colleague’s students may have liked an app, their skill levels could be vastly different from those of your students. And that difference will impact your students’ enjoy - ment. So, unless the app being recommended has adaptive levels of difficulty to accommodate all users, be wary. Special Considerations ’m getting close to turning you loose to select apps...I promise But first let’s talk about special considerations that might be relevant for you. Alignment to Standards As more states implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), you may t to select apps for particular standards that you are addressing in your class - wan room. As of now, very few app developers align their apps to CCSS. If this is a prior- ity for you, and you don’t want to do the alignment yourself, you are probably best served by finding a reliable website that curates educational apps and provides CCSS 9A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices alignment (for which, see the Finding Reliable App Recommendations section later in this guide). Accessibility Depending on the device you are using, certain features may be turned on to enhance its accessibility. In the case of iOS devices, for example, some of the acces- sibility features include: • VoiceOver: When the user touches the screen, VoiceOver reads what is happen- ing under the user’s finger. • Speak Selection: When the user highlights text in any application and then taps “Speak,” Speak Selection reads the selected text aloud. • Zoom: When the user double-taps with three fingers, this built-in magnifier zooms in 200 percent. Aside from the accessibility settings provided by the devices themselves, a remarkably small percentage of app developers include customization capabilities to enhance accessibility. Be sure to vet apps completely for accessibility if you have students for whom this is a concern. Information Safety—Yours and Your Students’ When choosing apps, you’ll want to consider a few safety features: • Does the app include in-app purchases (i.e., purchases that are critical to using the current app, such as buying coins or access to a new level) or access to the app store to buy additional apps? In some cases, purchases can be made without re-entering your login information, so kids may be able to make those purchases without your knowledge or permission. • Be aware of the links that an app may have to social media. Many apps, includ- ing both educational and noneducational, link to online centers that track learner scores; many others link to Facebook and Twitter. While access to these links may enable students to interact and collaborate with each other, in some cases they may allow them to have interactions with strangers (some of whom are likely to be adults). Depending on the device and operating system a school is using, varying degrees of device “lock-down” are available to limit the abil- ity of students to access outside links. Not all teachers and parents opt to lock down kids’ devices, but most want to know when these kinds of links are pres- ent so that they can have discussions with kids about Internet safety. • Pay aen tt tion to whether or not an app asks to send you “push notifications” (i.e., an alert or reminder that is delivered to the device from the developer) or collect location information. If a developer collects location information, this means that the app company knows the place from which you or your students access its app. These location data do not include any personally identifiable data, but some are still wary about it, so it’s useful to be aware of which apps collect it. • Finally, one of the biggest concerns for teachers and parents is in-app advertise - ments. These are very common in free apps because developers need some way 10A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices of paying for the development costs, so they sell advertising space. The problem is that there have been multiple examples of inappropriate, adult-themed ads appearing in children’s apps. The approaches used by developers and by adver- tising agencies have changed in recent months and these changes seem to have addressed the worst violators, such as adult-themed ads. However, there are still other ads for items that children might like (e.g., other apps or games) that may be a concern for teachers and parents. Volume Purchasing If you are purchasing multiple copies of an app for devices in your school or classroom, you should explore your plaorm’ tf s volume purchasing program. Not only will this allow you to buy multiple copies of an app at a discounted rate, but, in most cases, these programs also facilitate mobile device management (MDM). (Note: MDM is the distribution of applications, data, updates, and configuration settings for mobile devices from one centralized location within the school; this is completed via a wireless net- work.) Here is more information about volume purchasing for the four major device plaorms in schools t tf oday: • Apple Volume Purchase/MDM Program: With this program, multiple copies of an app may be purchased at a discounted rate. Once all devices (which must run iOS7 or later) in a classroom or school are enrolled, the assignment, revoking, and reassigning of apps to and from those devices can be managed centrally. • Google Play for Education: Similar to the Apple offering, Google Play for Education allows discount, bulk purchasing and centralized management of apps that run on Android devices. • Chrome Devices for Education: Also owned by Google, Chrome offers volume purchasing and centralized manage - ment of apps that run on Chrome devices via its Admin Con- sole, which is accessed by school personnel in charge of the mobile device management program. • Microsoft Volume Licensing Program: Microsoft offers a vol - ume licensing program to educational institutions and an independent mobile device management program, for apps that run on the Microsoft mobile devices, that must be managed separately. Finding Reliable App Recommendations One of the most common complaints among teachers and tech directors in schools concerns the time-consuming task of finding high-quality educational apps. With more than a hundred thousand educational apps available between iTunes and Google Play alone, it’s no wonder that finding strong instructional apps can seem like a daunting, even impossible task. And yet, in spite of how time consum - ing the task is, schools and districts all over the country require teachers and tech directors to do all of their own app vetting. 11 One of the most common complaints among teach- ers and tech directors in schools concerns the time- consuming task of finding high-quality educational apps....A better strategy is for schools and districts to rely on educational app review services; there are quite a few and they’re easy to search for online. A Content Strategy for Mobile Devices A beer s tt trategy is for schools and districts to rely on educational app review services; there are quite a few and they’re easy to search for online. Review sites provide curated lists of recommended apps, which allow school personnel to spend a fraction of the time in identifying potential apps, as they only need to vet just the curated list. Different curatorial sites focus on different criteria and have different business models. Some of the most popular sites include Teachers with Apps (2014), Graphite (Common Sense Media, 2013), Appitic (2014), and Balefire Labs (2014; the author is the president of Balefire Labs). The curators’ websites all offer slightly different services: Some are free to the user and supported by advertising and review fees (e.g., Teachers with Apps), some are run by teacher volunteers (e.g., Appitic), others are supported by large corporations (e.g., Graphite), and still others are fee-based subscription services (e.g., Balefire Labs). Appendix I provides examples of reviews for DragonBox Algebra 5+ from each of these four curation sites. As you shop around for educational app curation sites, here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine which site fits your needs: • Are the rubrics being used clearly defined and transparent? Can I easily under - stand how the reviewers decide whether or not an app is good? Is the rubric applied in a systematic way to all apps being reviewed? • How did this organization arrive at these rubrics? Are they objective or opinion-based? • How can I meaningfully use the information provided by an app review when I’m working with students? • Does this organization charge app developers a fee for completing a review? If so, should I be concerned that this is influencing the review the app receives? • Does this organization take advertising money from app developers? Again, should I be concerned that these monies are influencing the reviews? • Once you’ve tried some of the site’s recommended apps, ask yourself, What was my experience? Did the recommended apps prove to be useful to my students? • Does this site offer alignment of apps to the Common Core State Standards? Establishing an Acceptable Use Policy Before giving students access to mobile devices, an acceptable use policy (AUP) must be established, setting the standards for how students may and may not use the devices. An AUP can be set at a classroom, school, or district level, depending on the district policy. It is not unusual for students to each sign a copy of the AUP before using a device. In elementary classrooms, in particular, the AUP is often posted. Each school or district will need to decide what is important in an AUP. AUPs do not need to be set in stone; they can be updated and modified as you identify differ - ent needs. The following list presents some suggestions—which are not intended to be exhaustive—of the kinds of items that are often included in AUPs. • Only use apps and programs your teacher has instructed you to use. • Do not make any purchases of apps or purchases in apps without the teacher’s permission. 12

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