Now that you know what you can and can’t do with an iPad and have a reserve of educational ideas for use, let’s take a look at its applications (apps) and how they can be reviewed.
Let’s Review the Types of Apps: Compatible (these are iPhone/iPod apps that can run on an iPad but will appear in compatibility mode and can be resized by selecting 2x), Universal (will run on any device), iPad Only (only run on the iPad).
Within these app categories, we have free, lite, and paid. Consider what your purpose is for the app before you commit to purchasing it.
- Free: these apps are offered at no cost. Many are the full full version (some are only free for a limited time)
- Lite: these apps tend to not have all of the features or may not be the full app (they are great for testing an app prior to purchasing it or to use as a starting point for a project)
- Bard’s Dream Lite: This is a graphic novel for MidSummer Nights’ Dream. The lite app only features the first act. Students can use it as an alternate version to compare/contrast/critique against the original text as well as an inspiration for creating graphic novel or cartoon versions for the following acts.
- Shakespare in Bits:”This version provides all of the features and functionality (complete cats & analysis information) of the full version, but only contains 2 Scenes: The Act 1 Prologue and Act 1 – Scene 1.” Students could still use the app for the cast and analysis info in conjunction with reading the entire play. They could then review the prologue Act 1 – Scene 1 videos to serve as an example for creating their own videos for the following acts.
- Not all Lite apps are created equal: Pecos Bill Lite is the full version of the book and still allows users to record their own narration – it only lacks Robin Williams narration & Ry Cooder soundtrack. On the Flip side, Titanic Dog to the Rescue is a free app that really should be considered “diet lite”. It has a few pages to get you into the story and then prompts your to purchase the full version to finish the book.
- Paid: these are full versions
Is an app worth your time or money? Use several indicators to make an informed decision:
- Ratings: Don’t rule out an app by rating alone. There are some great apps that I have found with 2 & 3 star ratings. You have to look at the app and how it can be used for your purposes in the classroom.
- Screenshot: Typically the screen shots will help in deciding if an app merits a download. If an app has only one screen shot or the screen shots are vague, I don’t waste my time with the app.
- Description: If I am still unsure about the app after the ratings and screen shot, the description may clear up the confusion. The more descriptive and detailed the description, the more likely I am to download the app.
- Review: The reviews can be quite useful. If there are more than 2 or 3 really bad reviews, I move on. However, it is important to note how recent the poor reviews were posted as some apps may have received a bad review and then made changes and released an update to rectify the issue.
If it has passed all of these indicators, I will download it and give it a test drive. If it met my needs, I will add it to a content folder. If not, I will delete it so I don’t mistake it for one I would like to use. Keep a running list of inappropriate or inadequate apps and a brief description why. This helps to not waste time downloading an app you have already reviewed & rejected again.
Once you have downloaded an app, spend some time reviewing the functionality & robustness of it, ease of use, proclivity for ads, and inappropriate content (which may not always be obvious). I have found a few that:
- linked to inappropriate ads or had too many pop-up ads
- had hidden inappropriate content (rhyming dictionaries with profane terms & poetry generators with quotes and/or poems with adult content)
- will need in-app purchases turned off on the device so students do not purchase advance features or become redirected to other apps and sites
Now you are ready to locate your own apps!