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Part 3: Finding An App (the best kept secrets)

Where do you find apps (especially the free ones) and how do you narrow down the search?

  1. App store on the Device: If I am looking for a specific topic such as chemistry, I will go to the app store on the device and search “chemistry”. I also take note of wording of apps that may fall under chemistry (e.g… atom, periodic table, element, etc…). This would be similar to how you would approach a Google search with keywords and tags. (You can also search the App Store on the web).
  2. Follow the App: Sometimes I find an app and it leads me to other great apps. (much like Amazon will suggest other items based on your affinity for the selected item: “customers who bought this item also bought”). This is a great way to find 3 or 4 apps based on one good app.
  3. iPod/iPhone Apps: Since the iPhone/iPod has been around longer than the relatively infant iPad, I will also peruse iPod/iPhone apps (there are currently quite a few more that for the iPad) and select one that may better meet my query or needs. Most iPod/iPhone apps will work on an iPad once you select the 2x option after launching the app. They may be a little grainy but that is a small price to pay.
  4. App Store Browsing Categories: Other times I have some “spare time” and I review the app store lists for “top free” & by category (education, productivity, reference). This is a great past time for those who suffer insomnia or need to pass time in a productive manner while waiting in the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery store.
  5. Google Search: If someone mentions the name of an app and are unable to locate it in the app store, try doing a google search. Using the name + “app” or + “iTunes” is useful to give priority to the iTunes page over sites that have info about the app or an article about.
  6. App Evaluation Site(s) & Social Media: If these all fail or don’t produce the desired result, I turn to the internet & social media. There are many sites (and apps) dedicated to locating, ranking, categorizing (some sites will categorize all apps and others will focus on one facet like apps for digital storytelling), and providing useful descriptions and reviews of apps. There are also educational entities that create app lists that are updated on a regular basis and even post info on free app specials (sometimes a developer will run a one-day or one-week special on an app or collection of apps and offer them for free).
Many sites will list and recommend apps by grade level and content area. The TCEA Google Doc is probably my favorite place to begin a search. They are divided by content area and constantly updating their recommendations.
  • TCEA Google Doc: (also iPod apps)
  • 40 Amazingly Educational iPad Apps For Kids: a great starter list (if you are not ready to be inundated with hundreds or thousands of apps at a time)
  • TeachwithyouriPad: this site is such a great place to start your app search as it provides screenshots & descriptions (not just lists)
  • Education Apps Review: This site sorts and reviews apps by both grade level and content area. It also houses student reviews of apps (what a great activity for compare & contrast, persuasive writing, or even an exposition on how to use the app)
  • Moms with Apps: this site will also send push notifications of free apps from some of their vendors.
  • Apps in Education: this site has lists of reviewed apps by content area (and an additional list of unreviewed apps sorted by content area)
  • Fun Educational Apps: this site has apps for all iDevices and breaks their reviews and recommendations by down by age
  • Apps 4 Kids: this site also includes Android apps and separates them by topic
  • App Annie: this one houses multiple app rankings and reviews
  • Appolicious: this site also houses app reviews and recommendations
  • Reaching All Learners: this is a great site that recommends apps for learners with special needs (you can also sign up for email notifications from Mark Coppin – he sends out recommended and free apps)
  • Apps for Children with Special Needs: this is another great site that recommends and reviews apps for students with special needs
  • IPads for Learning: this site offers app reviews and a few other useful sections (e.g. classroom ideas, case studies, 21 steps to iPad success, etc…)
  • Kathy Schock: iPads in the Classroom: this site offers lists of recommended apps as well as tutorials and ideas for classroom use
  • Live Binder – iPads in Schools: this site is robust as well offering lists of apps for students, special education, teachers, admin, and parents
  • Free Tech 4 Teachers: iPad: offers multiple blog entries that review select apps
There are other sites (some are bundled as an app) that recommend free apps (especially those that are only free for a limited time). One of my favorites is the TCEA Twitter feed but there are others that have proved to be useful as well.
  • Awake your Appthusiasm for Learning

Now you are ready to explore the world of apps and become an informed consumer of all apps.

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