Mobile Learning Apps: Evaluating Instructional Needs

Mobile Learning Apps: Evaluating Instructional Needs

Janet Holland (Emporia State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6166-0.ch002
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Abstract

With the phenomenal growth of mobile applications or apps used for teaching and learning, we are all challenged with determining which ones are effective and efficient in meeting our specific instructional needs. The use of mobile apps directly impacts students, teachers, administrators, trainers, and employees worldwide. Apps are used across all discipline areas in a variety of settings including applied interdisciplinary approaches. With this in mind, it is critical to have a workable set of app analysis questions based on current best educational practices to assist in making informed decisions on app selections to provide quality teaching and learning experiences. This chapter provides a mixed method research study combining class observations with results from three pilots in an effort to create a set of quality questions for quickly evaluating mobile apps for instructional implementation. After creating a set of questions for evaluating the quality of the apps based on current best instructional practices, the following three pilot studies were conducted. The first pilot allowed students to select an app of their own choice followed by a survey to evaluate the app using both quantitative and qualitative open-ended responses. The second pilot had all students examine the same app followed by the same survey to analyze potential differences in results and to gain additional insights. The third pilot study used the same questions, but this time rather than using it to evaluate the app, the students evaluated the quality of the questions used. During the third pilot study, students were looking strictly at the quality of the questions for instructional use. All study participants were graduate-level students in Instructional Design and Technology and were aware of best instructional practices. It is anticipated, post study, instructors and trainers can begin using the evaluation instrument, selecting those questions meeting their unique instructional needs.
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Literature Based Current Best Educational Practices

Mobile applications or apps are a great way to invigorate online learning or blended learning environments. We are finding apps can be used to embrace new digital learning tools by having learners actively research, collaborate, innovate, and share their ideas. Many of the apps have collaborative tools built in, used to increase knowledge acquisition quickly and efficiently while making global connections for broader perspectives. Providing meaningful integration of new technologies through the careful selection of quality tools aligning to best instructional practices can alter how learners and instructors engage with concepts and each other to achieve powerful learning. The following sections provide some background knowledge on the current best instructional practices used as the bases for the formulation of the needs analysis questions developed to evaluate mobile apps selected for teaching and learning.

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