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Apps: a call for nominations and a round-up of review ources

pod_bestapps_submit_200x104I am a proud member of AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning Committee.  And we need your help.  You’ve been exploring apps with your students and faculty over the course of the year, now’s the time to nominate your faves!

But while you wait for the completion of the nomination process and our always exciting annual reveal at ALA Annual in June, here is a round-up of my own  strategies for keeping on top of apps.


1. Since 2007 Jane HartFounder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT),  has been creating the most wonderful lists of tools based on international survey input from educators, experts, instructional designers, consultants, developers and vendors.  Each year Jane examines trends–which tools have moved up and which have move down the list. (Check out her Movers & Shakers to explore the movement.)

In this tenth anniversary of Jane’s efforts, she has moved from Top 100 to an impressive list of Top 200 Tools for Learning.

You will want to share the following with your classroom teacher partners and your school’s edtech leader:

Here is Jane Hart’s slideshow of the selected Top 200 Tools for Learning 2016.
2. I’ve long relied on so much that the nonprofit CommonSense Education creates. I especially trust their reviews. To help you locate just the right app, CommonSense Education’s app reviews may be filtered by grade, device, genre, subject, topic, price and sorted by newest, age and number of stars. Ratings and reviews a based on standards-aligned, multifaceted rubric used by a team of expert reviewers and a select group of educators who field-test products for their value with learners.screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-2-11-38-pm
Among the many pages of current Best Apps Lists are:
3. Ever since 1993, the monthly subscription journal/service, Children’s Technology Review, led by its editor Warren Buckleitner, has engaged in high quality reviewing of interactive media, aiming for inter-rater reliability with the same review instrument.  You can use the CTR Flex rubric to evaluate apps and other software with your local colleagues or use a variety of possible criteria to customize your own instrument. screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-9-41-41-am
In 2014 CTR launched the CTREX: Children’s Technology Review Exchange, a revised version of its databases that allows flexible searches of latest products in a freemium model.  The database is free to browse, but full reviews and reports, along with back issues, are limited to paid CTR subscribers.  There’s a CTREX Library Hub for librarians and a CTREX School Hub for teachers.  Check out the searchable lists of Top Picks and don’t miss the reviews on the CTR YouTube Channel.
 4. Teachers With Apps, Launched by educators Jayne Clare and Anne Rachel, TWA field-tests apps with a cross-section of students/teachers as part of its review process.  For updates,  follow Teachers With Apps on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Consider joining Educational App Talk, a Facebook group that meets every Thursday night at 9:00pm EST for discussions about apps and ed tech in general.
5. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything is a librarian’s dream, well Kathy is a librarian. Among the most relevant everything in this particular case are Kathy’s

6. Balefire Labs offers more than 5000 research-based reviews of educational apps and games based on instructional and usability design and aligned, when possible, to CCSS math and ELA standards. Check out their Top App Lists. Follow them @BalefireLabs

And then, and so importantly, there are the bloggers and curators who are my go-tos for discovering new apps and assessing their value in the classroom and the library.
Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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