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Mix & Match: Using Apps in Concert with Web-Based Tools

By: Alex Fegely

I work in a school where all our students are provided tablets by the district. This has forced my teaching to evolve into the realm of educational apps. However, although apps are engaging and offer compartmentalized learning opportunities, they are not standalone resources. Instead, I have come to understand that apps are even more powerful when packaged with web-based tools and resources. By combining the two types of resources – apps and web-based tools – together, I’m able to offer my students some very powerful learning opportunities.

When designing activities for my students, I use learning objectives with specific verbs to guide how I structure them. For example, my learning objectives focus on achievable action verbs like carry out, combine, compose, construct, demonstrate, design, develop, discover, produce, research, and more! I then combine the apps with web-based tools so my students complete multistep projects. An example project I use in my class is:

  • Introducing students to a lesson with media from the White House App
  • Having students then perform research on the political process using the web-based search engines such as Google and Bing
  • Requiring students to use the Skitch app to annotate over maps to illustrate regions and the Electoral College and save those annotated maps as JPEGs
  • Using Padlet, a web tool, so students can share their learning by uploading their map and analysis to one big class e-bulletin board
  • Letting students explain their learning about the political process by creating a group video blog in the iMovie app
  • Finally, letting students create a learning artifact portfolio that requires them to upload their research papers, maps, and videos to team-created political webpages made in Wix, a website creation tool

My advice is to think outside the box! Yes, combining apps with different web resources and traditional methods of instruction can seem challenging, but the benefits are immense! In your classroom, try to differentiate the lesson with web tools and apps, which hook various types of learners while complementing each learning style. Students’ understanding, along with digital literacy, will grow as a result of the technology used, and students will begin to transfer new skills and knowledge rapidly!