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In The Pursuit of Appyness

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s been over a year since I’ve been a regular blogger. You see, 12 months ago to the day the world had its first glimpse at the iPad 2. Ever since then it has been a huge focus of mine. So much so, I’ve barely stopped to reflect (read: blog).

I’ve been in hundreds of classrooms over the last few years, working with thousands of students. I honestly believe that mobile technology such as the iPad (and the ecosystem that surrounds it) is the most engaging, most personalized and simplest way for students to interact with the curriculum as far as technology goes. Students are excited. Teachers are excited. I’m excited!

The strength of the iPad lies in the apps. At the same time, an all-too-common desire to have the longest, greatest and most updated app list frustrates me. The goal sometimes becomes to have an app for everything. And you know what, there almost is. But pursuing this ever-growing app list down to the nitty gritty of every single learner outcome isn’t the answer. Well, at least I don’t think it is.

An efficient carpenter may have hundreds of tools, but if you’re cabinet-maker, chances are there are 3 or 4 that you couldn’t live with out. I think our learners (and teachers) can be much more efficient if they focus on learning a few broad strokes. Have a dozen or so apps that provide what you need. Leave the other 597 apps that you own (my current app count on my iPad 2) in the cloud.

There are at least a dozen different video editing apps that I’ve seen teachers use or have heard teachers spout off to each other. Some are awful. Others are great. But, one is enough. iMove, for example, could keep you busy with no less than a dozen different activities. I don’t mean to suggest that you should only ever use one app in a category. What I do want to suggest is that, once you find an app that works, focus on some of the great activities you can do with that one app.

When I started a small decking company almost 10 years ago I kept buying up tools. I had 5 different drills, 3 different nailers, dozens of accessories, a few hundred feet in extension chords, and at least half a dozen saws. I was rookie. The last deck I built required just 1 drill, 1 saw, a tape and a level. The deck was beautiful.

You don’t need every great app that is out there. You don’t even need 1% of them. Take the time with your students to explore what can be done with just a few great apps, and they will build wonderful things.

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