We people are funny creatures. We fight for our liberty of choice like a gorilla beating its chest, yet when we have too many options to choose from we hold still and try to blend in with the surrounding environment like a chameleon and avoid making any decision.
You'd think this behavior makes no sense, but the paradox of choice is real. When we have to choose between A and B we complain that there isn't an option C as well. But when we have options from A to Z we freak out and either pick something random or simply walk away.
As a teacher, you have to make decisions all day every day, from the moment you get out of bed in the morning to the moment you put your pajamas back on. Some of these decisions are really easy; others — not at all.
For example, if you're thinking "Should I go to school today? I'm not really in the mood to interact with people...", you have just one thing to do; pull out your phone and open your calendar and see what day it is. If it's not a Saturday or a Sunday, nor an official school vacation day, you have to go to school. Because, you know, you actually like what you do for a living. The easiest decision ever.
But, if you're thinking to introduce more technology in your classroom instruction, boy do you have options... And then more options to those options. From getting a new LMS to installing a new app, you're surrounded by options.
Too many options
Let's focus on education apps for the classroom. These can be great. They can save you tons of time, you can use them to improve communication with parents and students, or create real learning impact.
The good news is that there's an app for anything you'd want to do in the classroom.
The bad news is that there's an app for anything you'd want to do in the classroom.
You read that right.
There are currently hundreds of thousands of apps claiming to have been created specifically for the education market — around 350,000 or them, to be a little more precise.
I think you'll agree that 350,000 or so of choices can trigger the paradox of choice I mentioned above. So if you don't want to play chameleon and avoid the introduction of education apps in your classroom — a decision which may not be popular with your students — read on.
This post has a few recommendations for you. They are seven, and they're all free.
7 education apps for the classroom
Almost every teacher I met at various edtech conferences had something to say about Kahoot!. They all used different words, but the idea of awesome was always there. Class engagement apparently goes through the roof with this app.
Kahoot! offers fun, social learning games, for any subject; you just have to find the best one for your class. It's definitely there, among the hundreds of thousands of pre-existing games. It will surely spark conversations and your students will love it.
You will love it too, because it offers learning data for all students, thus allowing you to adapt your instruction and also save time on grading.
NYT VR - Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality is the talk of the day when it comes to using technology to engage students in their learning process. NYT VR gives you the possibility to engage students with immersive, 360-degrees storytelling.
With this app you and your students can go anywhere in the world, and even travel back in time. The learning experience can't get more immersive than this.
While the app is free, and available on both Google Play and the App Store, you need a VR gear to really make the most of it, and this usually comes with a price tag. But Google Cardboard can do the trick, and you can have one with just $15.
G Suite for Education
Speaking of Google, the tech giant offers more than the most popular search engine, a browser and a VR headset. G Suite for Education allows you to create a structure for classroom learning as big as you want. It gives you all of its tools for free and you can decide how much or how little to use.
You can start slow, with Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs, and incorporate all the other productivity tools gradually. Everything is saved in the cloud, so you and your students can collaborate easily, share learning materials and homework, and manage all learning content.
We may type faster than when we write things by hand, but nothing beats speaking when it comes to the speed of conveying a message. Kaizena claims that when speaking — rather than writing — the feedback you provide as a teacher is 75% quicker and better at conveying what you really mean. So this app allows you to add personalized voice feedback on student work.
Students can share their work with you anytime for feedback, and they can even give feedback to each other.
This app is available for download only on the App Store, but Google Chrome offers a browser extension that does basically the same thing.
I don't know about you, but I always feel a little smarter after I watch a TED Talk — no matter if it lasted 20 or just 10 minutes. The TED app offers inspirational content and thought provoking educational leadership, and you can explore more than 2000 TED speeches together with your students.
You can create personalized lists of TED videos and then let your student do the talking. In fact, you could even ask each of them to find a new and interesting TED video and share it for discussion with the rest of the classroom as a cool homework assignment.
In the most-watched TED Talk, Sir Ken Robinson reminds us that one of the most wonderful parts of childhood is curiosity. Children are natively curious and they want to learn everything they are curious about.
With the Curiosity app you and your students can learn more about art history, science news, technology advances, nature, space exploration - and more. You can read articles, watch videos, save interesting facts and share the new knowledge with friends and colleagues.
It's easy to learn when both curiosity and Curiosity are in the mix.
Since you're reading about classroom apps for the classroom on the K-20 Blog, of course we consider our app deserves a place on this list as well.
More and more schools turn to learning management systems to organize all learning materials, track student progress and assess their knowledge. NEO LMS offers a comprehensive set of features and a great user experience.
With the NEO app you can access all these features, create classes and assignments, connect with students and parents, collaborate and share resources. Just give it a try if you don't want to take my word for granted.
And so the list of 7 educational apps for the classroom comes to an end. These seven apps barely scratch the surface of the pool of hundreds of thousands of apps you could use to spice up your classroom activities. But I'm sure they won't trigger the paradox of choice.
Try them all, at once or one after another. The real feedback regarding their impact on the learning experience will come from your students. So you'd better listen to them.