With the current influx of iPads to schools and children’s backpacks, it is no surprise many educators are feeling overwhelmed in terms of how best to use the devices. As is often the case with school technologies, purchasing decisions may be made without a full road map for implementation. An outwardly sleek and seemingly “simple” technology like the iPad is particularly prone to this sort of pitfall. Educators stuck scratching their heads about how to use iPads in the classroom or endlessly searching the Educational Apps for Children Store for “that perfect app” are overlooking a what might actually be the shortest route to a stellar implementation: custom-built apps.
Imagine you are a second grade teacher and you’ve been given a class set of iPads for the upcoming year. You have your class roster, your scope and sequence, your lesson plans, your materials, your enthusiasm and now, about $15,000 worth of technology that doesn’t exactly seem to fit any of your plans, at least not precisely. As you search the App Store, you find plenty of educational games and some really exciting ideas for a classroom, but not your classroom. Your science lessons will center around local ecology and unfortunately, there is no app for that. Your students love competing in Mad Minutes, but no app allows you to differentiate as much as you would like – let alone analyze the data at a class wide level. Your students’ work is improving each and every week, but outside of collecting endless binders and portfolios, there is no good way to aggregate it all. Last but not least, you have a great idea for streamlining your ancient lunch procedures, but you have been told it simply isn’t possible, given your school’s current Student Information System. These types of frustrations are growing more and more common among teachers, administrators and even parents.
Fear not. Partnering with a developer may be easier and more affordable than you think. With more than 10,000 Apple developers in the US alone, chances are there is one in your area – see below for some links to custom developers. Moreover, many developers will jump at the chance to bring a powerful app to a school full of children where they know it will be put to good use rather than create yet another app that may only collect dust on iTunes. That willingness may come across not only in the price-tag, but also in the ideas and imagination they may bring to your fledgling app.