App-Based Learning- a critical perspective



I came across this article this morning via  Developing Education and found it intriguing. Keenan argues in it that we should be moving away from lesson plans that give our students only one choice of apps. That finding and evaluating which tool works best for them is part of the learning process:

However, in every talk I give, I try to mention several apps for each task I have students perform.  This can, at times, seem counterintuitive to those I am speaking to who want a ‘single solution’ in their classrooms.

Why do I do this?

The answer is simply that I believe students should have the opportunity to pick a tool to do a job.  I want students to have options and think about why they are choosing the tool they do.  If I give students one option, they may learn how to use that app, but have not learned why that app is there and why it was chosen for use.  –Derek Keenan

I have mentioned already in this blog how I thought our school should focus more on creation apps as opposed to content-based apps in terms of what we should be recommending our students to purchase but it never occurred to me to let the students choose which apps they use when they do a project. I know when I have been developing projects for the iPad for students I have never given them the option as to what app they use to get the job done.

I have also been intrigued about what I am increasingly perceiving as a disconnect between how we want to use technology in education (eg. the flipped classroom) and the students’ inability to change their own study habits to take on this challenge. (I posted a great Ted Talk about this in a previous post). Now don’t get me wrong- this is no criticism on teachers. The questions Keenan poses as well as Dan Meyer (the math teacher in the Ted talk) is I think an age-old one. How to we get students invested in their own learning process? How do we get them to think about how they learn and what works best for them? Are we giving them enough choice? Too much choice? As always, trial and error are a big part of learning- do we give our students enough opportunities to try, fail, try again and then succeed?

I don’t know. Do you? If so, please tell us about it!