tion of the app and then require the user to purchase the paid version to access the entire app. Lite versions may only contain a few questions or a few levels that can be completed in a few minutes and then the app is useless. Tey may also pop up messages to the user periodically requesting them to buy the full app, which is very distracting to chil- dren.
It is also important for schools to realize that the marketing phrase “Tere’s an app for that” does not hold true in an educational setting. Tere is not an an app for every curricular goal, and even if there were, teachers don’t have time to find, download, and install every app on every tablet.
Te more schools can break free of the “apps” mindset and move to a library of online content the more sustainable and useful their tablets will become. With the move towards digital content in educa- tion and the ability to individualize instruction with tablets and other mobile learning devices, we need to move beyond the idea of buying content peacemeal. Digital content delivery has evolved and gone are the days we should be purchasing content for individual topics such as fractions, basic facts, reading comprehension, etc.
When we allow singularly focused apps to be our only method of acquiring content, we will never be able to use our devices to their full potential. Use of the device shouldn’t be limited by the “apps” we can find.
So, what is a school to do? Having a library of content available allows teachers to address individual stu- dent needs at any level with every concept they teach.
Inevitably, as schools continue to invest in technology hardware and begin to realize digital content’s role in effective technology integration, more and more companies will be offering content. Creating quality, interactive content is an expensive endeavor, so most of these resourc- es will not be provided for free.
So as the amount of paid content grows, how do you know what in- teractive digital content you should invest in?
Here are twelve questions you should ask before purchasing interactive digital content in all its forms from interactive whiteboard packages to individualized soſtware programs.
#1 Are these re- sources al- ready avail- able in my interactive technology soſtware?
Tere is content currently available for purchase that includes spin- ners, dice, currency, flash cards, and a host of other activities and manipulatives that are already located in interactive technology soſtware galleries.
Take a few minutes to browse through the options available in the soſtware you currently have. And be sure you are comparing apples to apples. A 6 sided die that rolls when you spin it is different than a 6 sided die that does the same but can be customized by the teacher with different numbers or words.
#2 Are these resources like a text- book online? Could I create these resources myself?
If content looks like it is a scanned .pdf from your textbook, is similar to a Power Point slide with some simple text and images, offers no functionality beyond drag and drop, or looks like something you could create in your interactive technology soſtware, you can save your money and most likely find comparable content free on any interactive whiteboard community site.
#3 Are these resources lim- ited in number or comprehen- sive?
content packages are grouped in large grade level bands. For ex- ample, a math pack may include 100 lessons for K-5th grade. Look closely at the number of lessons that pack includes for each specific grade level and consider the num- ber of topics it covers. If I am a first grade teacher, only 20 of those lessons may apply to my classroom, and they may only address 6 of the 15 math topics taught in my curric- ulum.
Since a single classroom includes students of widely varying abilities, it is important to have access to materials at other grade levels.
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