Start off the New Year by Exploring a set of Apps That Enable Collaborative Learning
By: Todd Cherner and Alex Fegely
Technology is changing not only the instructional methods we use to teach our students, but it is changing the classroom and learning experience. Digital learning communities – virtual spaces where students can collaborate, assist in each other’s learning, and build relationships – are integral to 21st century learning. With it being January and a time for New Year’s Resolution, we thought these apps might be something to try out in the new year! To support teachers, this month’s Roundup is a compilation of App Ed Review’s favorite learning communities apps that support students asking and answering questions, collaborating on work in real time, and creating their own lessons.
- BaiBoard, the pinnacle of collaborative apps, is a whiteboard for 21st century learners. Users can collaborate in real time with peers by utilizing the “Meet #” ability that gives one user a meeting code to be shared with peers who have also downloaded the app. Peers then input the meeting code into the app, and then they will be able to collaborate in real time on a project by adding text, annotations, images, and by using a voice conferencing feature. Users who do not have the app can still participate by viewing the whiteboard online using a web address supplied by the app. Garnering a class leading 9.4, BaiBoard is an app all teachers should add to their arsenal.
- Coursmos represents a revolution of learning in the 21st century. No longer is education bound to the spaces between the classroom walls. Instead, the learning opportunities that exist on the internet are boundless, and Coursmos capitalizes on learning’s ubiquity. With Coursmos, students and teachers are able to create courses consisting of a series of micro-lessons that last only a few minutes each, and the courses that include the micro-lessons can be made, edited, and uploaded from an internet-connected smart phone or tablet device. The short length of the courses and modules plus the ease by which they can be made makes this app especially appealing. As noted in our review, there is a bit of a learning curve for using Coursmos, but the benefits are potentially limitless.
- Quora is a question-answer app that relies on a search engine to connect users and their questions to a community of answerers. Quora has answered a range of questions from “How is an atom isolated for experimentation?” to “In Mandarin Chinese, how do adverbs work?” In Quora, users simply pose questions to the Quora community, answer open questions, or browse the Top Content section. For more in-depth learning, The Top Content page lists questions that have been answered by experts and example Top Content page queries include questions about: (1) coding answered by the creator of a programming language, (2) space answered by former astronauts, and (3) jail answered by current inmates. When experts answer questions, their responses often include highly detailed, factual responses. On the App Ed Review rubric, Quora scored a stout 8.3 out of 10 overall.
- Brainly.com is a unique app that uses a question-and-answer format reminiscent of Quora’s design. With Brainly.com, students are able to ask questions to a large community of teachers, students, and other educational stakeholders. To help differentiate questions, users are able to label them by grade level and subject area, which results in individuals who are interested in answering specific types of questions being able to find them quicker. Plus, Brainly.com tracks stats about how often students ask and answer questions. This tracking feature can be used in the classroom for holding students accountable for using the app. Overall, Brainly.com earned an 8.6 out of 10 for its design and top scores for cooperative learning, interactivity, and ease of use. Brainly.com is a must-have app for the classroom.
That’s all for this month’s Roundup. If you would like more information about any of the apps mentioned in this Roundup or that are on the App Ed Review website, please contact us at [email protected] And remember, apps are tearing down the traditional classroom walls and rebuilding them with innovation!