Recovering from BETT and reflecting on what we learnt. Whilst the overwhelming majority of visitors to our stand loved our app concept, a few were disappointed that the rAPPidRevise apps are only currently being developed for Apple mobile devices.
We do have plans to port the apps to other devices next year, but starting with Apple seemed like the logical thing to do for a number of reasons:
1. A lot of teenagers have an iPod Touch, even if they don’t have an iPhone.
2. iPads are becoming an increasing popular device in homes in the UK.
3. Apple’s iOS is a stable, well-supported platform with a limited number of devices to test on.
4. A number of schools have bought class sets of iPod Touches or iPads to use in lessons.
And this last point got me, Jane Ballantine, thinking about why teachers love Apple so much. My personal experience of using technology in the classroom tells me that it’s partly to do with the usability of the devices and partly to do with reliability. As well as to do with content, of course!
The touch screens are sleek and appealing to touch. They allow users to access content with an immediacy and intimacy that doesn’t exist when using a mouse or a keyboard. These peripheral devices put up an extra barrier to the content which the touch screen removes. And in a school setting, you can bet that some joker has removed the ball from the mouse and at least one key on the keyboard is broken or has missing or jammed keys. The tablet devices, whether big or small, are simpler devices and harder for pupils to damage, which means they’re more likely to be working when the next teacher wants to use them.
The nature of how apps run on these devices means that a teacher can direct a pupil to an app and the student can start working with the app straight away. There’s no going to a website, reading out and checking URLs seven times because pupils are mis-typing them, or firing up software that will inevitably crash or fail to load on someone’s machine. The general chaos that is often involved when trying to get technology to work for 30 pupils simultaneously is partially mitigated with apps that are designed for specific functions, and start at the touch of a screen.
Of course, the teacher still has to figure out how to get their pupils off Facebook, but you can’t blame the device for that!