Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quality apps

The torrent of apps just keeps on flowing. There are millions of them out there and although there are plenty of excellent apps for education there are also plenty of less than excellent ones. Finding good quality apps is not easy and there's not much help out there even if you want to make a more discerning choice. App stores all have rating systems but they are often a poor guide since most voters give a simply thumbs up or down and little or no explanation. Many of the ratings are done automatically by bots. So how do you know what to download? Sadly there's no answer today.

This problem has been highlighted in an article on Mind/Shift, How do you find good educational apps?. Sifting through thousands on apps on iTunes or Google Apps is a frustrating process and you tend to rely on tips from friends or news articles. Some reviews are helpful but mostly it's a case of trial and error, not a particularly academic process. If apps are going to find their way into university courses and schools there must be quality criteria and ways of in some way certifying that the educational value of the app. Once again we need filters to be able to make more educated choices and it's not enough to only rely on the wisdom of crowds. Acquiring a lot of "likes" doesn't really count for much.

We need a credible peer review process for apps that are aimed at the education sector and some kind of approval stamp that educators take seriously. I read recently that the Danish Ministry of Education is planning to launch an app store for Danish schools by 2012 with approved apps (see article in Danish from ComputerWorld). This is a bold and admirable step and I think this official seal of approval is essential if mainstream teachers are going to take the plunge and try out mobile apps in their teaching. However we still need to develop some international standards so each country does not need to reinvent the wheel.

Read more on this theme in The world of children's apps: a shake-up? on GeekDad.


  1. Hi Alistair,

    I just added your blog to be followed in our collected blogfeed There are mostly Finnish blogs at the moment. We are happy to follow you!



  2. Thanks Tiina! I'll check the other posts in your blogfeed too.