Aim For Real Learning With Apps

During the Olympics many athletes told about their training. For example, swimmers lifted weights to develop stronger arms. They watched tapes of their turning around and made adjustments. They stressed that the most important thing that they could do to improve their swimming was to swim.

Do we use apps in our classrooms to do developmental drills or do we use apps to allow students to swim? Students can do math app after math app of math drills without ever doing real world math; can the students figure out how much they are spending in a store and how much change they are to get back? Likewise, English students can do grammar drill after grammar drill on various apps; can they write a persuasive essay about preventing the destruction of a forest for a shopping mall? Again, modern language students can do vocabulary drills on food in many different apps; can they, in the target language, order a meal and tell what is wrong with the meal?

Our students will use some developmental apps but then they have to move up to real life or simulation apps where students use the learning in real experiences. For examples, you can give your math students a certain amount of virtual pretend money such as $150.00 and tell them to go clothing shopping at an online store on their mobile device. What can they buy? How much will they have left? Modern language students can visit a restaurant in their target language and explain to the waiter what they want to eat for each part of the meal.

Let’s use apps to do real world uses of the subject area and not to drown students in developmental apps.

Harry Grover Tuttle teaches English and Spanish college courses at Onondaga Community College and blogs at Education with Technology. He is also the author of several books on formative assessment.