What makes a good app and where do you find them ?

Many teachers don’t know what apps to look for and what defines a good app. Trawling through the Internet looking for suitable apps is time consuming and often frustrating as the downloaded app doesn’t always fulfill its promise. Here at MICOOL we have decided to make this easier by reviewing both content based apps and creativity apps.

Pedagogy must drive the choice of instructional technology, not the other way around “ 


Why review content based apps ?

Creativity is the buzz word today but unless students have automaticity in certain tasks they cannot perform creatively. Brunning states that  “Attention is the fuel on which the mind runs” Tablets are ideal for getting the students’ attention.  The interactive multimedia features of  apps appeal to students as tablets are part of their daily lives and apps can appeal in particular to students with poor attention spans. They have to be engaged in order to learn.  Information also needs to be chunked and at the appropriate level for students to learn.  Apps can offer both these features.  An individual student can start where he/she needs to and progress at their own level.  Built in assessments provide instant feedback and the student can self correct without teacher intervention. Ideally an app has a reporting feature which gives feedback on a student’s progress. Drill and practice to ensure repetition in different formats will help students to develop the automaticity they require to starts being creative. We have designed a content-based app review. This was derived from research perform at DCU and customized for content based apps only.

When selecting an app the key considerations are:

  • Instructional Content – Does the content  have a sound pedagogical basis?
  • User Friendliness – is the app intuitive?
  • Assessments and reporting features  ?
  • Technical features is the app technically sound and is the good support?


[1] Chizmar & Walbert as cited by Siemans (2002), [http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/InstructionalDesign.htm]