My son was born about a month before the debut of the iPad, and has quite literally grown up alongside touchscreen devices. As a parent and longtime app reviewer, I can tell you with conviction that most educational apps for the iPad stink.
While there are countless educational apps that claim to teach my son how to do things like count, trace letters, or identify his home state on a map, the vast majority fail to deliver on what is promised in their iTunes Descriptions. I hear the same complaints from friends and family who are trying to find legit apps to teach their older children topics ranging from fractions, to physics to foreign languages.
Downloading substandard educational apps is at best a waste of time and money. More disturbingly, bad educational apps can promote poor learning habits or compromise privacy.
On the flip side, the iPad is ushering in a new revolution in learning. Many schools across the country are rolling out 1:1 iPad initiatives that put devices in the hands of every student. Apps like Duck Duck Moose Reading, Monster Physics and Learn Spanish with Lingo Arcade are engaging students in ways not possible with traditional textbooks and other learning materials.
There are apps available that can at least complement the study of virtually any subject for students of all ages. The challenge ultimately lies in finding the good ones and determining if they are useful for your kid's particular needs.
It's way too hard to find relevant educational apps
Unfortunately, there are few meaningful ways for parents, teachers, or students to find quality educational apps for their desired age group and field of study. There are three reasons why:
- There is no consistent and organized method in the iTunes App Store - or elsewhere - to discover and learn about apps specific to both a subject and age group.
- Most user and professional reviews of educational apps lack context, and fail to explain in specific detail what an app teaches, how lessons are presented, and whether or not your kid will use it without much parental prodding.
- All too often, educational app reviewers have no teaching experience or credentials to convey if and why a given app offers any educational efficacy.
As parents and media publishers who specialize in mobile app discovery, we concluded that there has to be a better way to curate and categorize the best educational apps for the iPad.
Here's what makes appoLearning different - and better
We collaborated with dozens of teachers, administrators, educational consultants and technology specialists to create the most comprehensive and detailed showcase of quality educational apps available.
Together, we came up with an ever-expanding category taxonomy that features nearly 100 subjects (and growing) across four distinct age groups: Early Childhood, Elementary School, Middle School and High School.
For each subject, our experts showcase the five best educational apps available and explain in detail what factors motivated their selections. The hundreds of educational apps reviewed on appoLearning are given Report Cards so parents, teachers and students can understand how and why they were deemed to be the best of the bunch.
Report Card evaluations are based on the following criteria:
- Educational Content: What are the app's educational objectives and what skills does it teach?
- Kid Appeal: How will the app stimulate and engage the student?
- Assessment: How can parents, teachers and students best track lesson progress?
- Features & Design: Is the app unique, and does it encourage repeat use?
- Value: Does the app justify its download price and offer enough meaningful content before asking for more money?
- Safety & Privacy: Will the app expose kids to external services or solicit personal data?
Invariably, there will be apps that you and your children use that should be showcased on appoLearning. If you have an educational app that you think is worthy of consideration, please let us know.
There are incredible educational opportunities with the iPad, and we are just scratching the surface. Let appoLearning serve as your guide and trusted resource for educational app discovery.