Time to play! Time to play with apps.

Over the course of this semester, in one of the units I am enrolled in, we are to explore a range of applications for education. The use of this term intrigues me, to say the least. What is an application? I ask this question because I am concerned that my understanding may be limited and somewhat determined by the devices I use. Are apps only found on iPads and iPhones or other mobile devices? Is a game an application? Is it a word doc? Or is it a bundle of information stored in one place? Is Facebook an app? With a quick google search it becomes evident that the word application is broad reaching.

 

Software that processes data for the user. Except for “system software,” which provides the infrastructure in the computer (operating system, utilities and related components), all software programs are application programs.

 

In the entertainment world, it refers to games (see gaming). In the business world, it refers to the data entry, update, query and report programs that make up the company’s bread and butter information systems (order entry, billing, inventory, human resources, payroll, manufacturing, etc.).

 

The term may also refer to a generic application, often called a “productivity program,” such as a Web browser, spreadsheet, word processor, database or e-mail program. For a list of major application software categories, see application software. See productivity software, application, program and software. Contrast with system program. (http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/37919/application-program accessed 9/3/14)

 

The reason why I was interested in this was due to my need to crowdsource a list of apps to investigate and explore. I didn’t want to stay confined to what I was aware of and the filtering that I undertake when things come my way. So I flicked a request out on Twitter, Voxer, Skype, Yammer, and now here which connects to Linkedin and Tumblr, just to see what I would get. What other people understand an application to be would determine what would be shared with me and I do need to be aware of what frames their understanding.

 

I asked people for apps they were using and liked, along with apps that appealed to them but they had not had time to explore. In doing so, I received some clarifying questions that encompassed the concept of purpose. Purpose, for me, didn’t really rate highly within sourcing  a list of apps, due to the fact that I would determine possible purposes when I play with them. Not to mention that one person’s perception of purpose is also shaped by their experience and thinking.

In doing this it became clear to me that I would be able to delve into playing with MinecraftEDU, as this is a game, and games are apps. I have not explored this version of Minecraft, rather I have just read about it and listened to others, so to have the opportunity to understand it better is a valuable opportunity. There are also apps that I have dabbled with that I would like to explore further, that I have not had time to do so or the need, that have a potential classroom use – so this is a great excuse to play.

With regard to using apps in the classroom, over the last couple of years I have taught in a very personalised learning focused classroom, where each student determined what they wanted to learn and how they would go about it. This has meant that I have seen students use a large number of apps to learn, but not necessarily purposefully learnt the apps myself. At times we have either learnt together, or they have determined what to use and employed it into their learning. So the notion of all my class using the one app for the one purpose has been a little foreign to me recently (even with creating documents a range of apps were used). This has included apps required for presentation of work and documenting work – students have chosen what they are comfortable with and have self taught and taught others to use them. A great example of this was that of Prezi. Our students had to create an hour long presentation of their learning and so a number of them wanted to use a slideshow of some description. One student became proficient in the use of it through teaching himself, the others learnt from him. I however, have never used prezi to create a presentation of my own. I have guided the students in providing feedback, I have occasionally had a play with adding a photo when they have wanted me too, but for the most I have been their support and a bit of a ‘meddler’ in their learning (in the sense that I get to question and dabble but it is not my own, with the intent to spark further inquiry), providing guidance along the way.


This weeks play has focussed on Little Alchemy. Go on, go play it. It is fun. Also if you have some apps that I could potentially explore leave a reply with details 🙂 

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