I bought a no-contract Android phone last week with service through Virgin Mobile. It is now possible for anyone to access the web virtually anywhere at anytime at a moderate price. I paid $190 for the phone and have an unlimited data plan for only $25 per month without a contract. The Samsung Intercept that I purchased can be purchased for as little as $150. The service fee would remain the same. My intent is not to advertise for Virgin, Samsung, or Google’s Android OS; however, I felt it necessary to reveal both the affordability and availability of this kind of mobile technology for the vast majority of U.S. consumers before continuing with this brief post.
I tweeted last week that I was impressed with the number and quality of free and low-cost educational applications available and that I would soon review a few of them.
I must confess that the majority of the educational apps I have downloaded and tried are geared toward early literacy, meaning pre-K through K. Here are a couple of apps I found interesting, research-based, and useful in that category:
- iStoryBooks, which can be located on Facebook at www.facebook.com/iStoryBooks. There are a number of free books available that are read by “Maya” and with which early readers could read along. Many stories are available free and include selections of fairytales, fables, and folklore. The stories display on mobile media…my second-grade daughter was delighted to read along with a few of the stories over the weekend, so there is some appeal to the stories through primary grades.
- KidsPhonics ABC is a free app (there is also a full version for purchase) that allows young learners to learn letter sounds through a variety of interesting games and challenges that include auditory processing, kinesthetic learning styles, and visual processing. One of the practices is quite similar to something I do as a literacy tutor to develop early literacy skills: students take puzzle pieces and connect them to make words, which they can then understand by blending the sounds together.
- Beyond those two apps the only other purely educational application I have tried is one called sight words. Not much further explanation required…it is what it says. The app presents sight words and then pronounces those words for the reader to learn. Again, this would be a good early literacy skill or supplement for a primary student struggling with Dolch words.
What fascinates me more however is the potential use of non-educational applications in the classroom. One such application about which I have read is the use of QR codes in the classroom. One teacher (I will post a link here later) has used QR codes for math assignments. Another has introduced them as a means for completing research…seems like an enhanced version of the popular web-quest.
As they used to say at Florida’s Walt Disney World: “The future is NOW!”