Mar 15 2016

UNC Launches an App Store for Educators

A new way of discovering useful educational apps is available to all University of North Carolina campuses.

The University of North Carolina has launched a new educational app marketplace designed to streamline faculty access to the tools they need for tech-assisted teaching.

"We’re reimagining the way university faculty and staff buy the ed tech they need to help their students learn. Our goal is to empower educators with the best instructional tools available — in the classroom or online," according to a February post on Medium.

Through the UNC Learning Technology Commons, educators throughout UNC’s 17 campuses will have access to a curated menu of apps and educational resources that can grow with the needs of teachers. The idea is to unshackle educators from the university’s learning management system (LMS), which the Medium post refers to as a "monolithic collection of functionality."

Just like many modern app ecosystems, such as Google Play and iTunes, educators will be able to rate and review educational apps. They’ll also be able to discover which apps are popular with other educators in their particular fields.

In a blog post on e-Literate, Phil Hill says the Learning Commons marketplace is an attempt to change the way apps for classrooms are procured — an a la carte approach over the top-down distribution processes of the past.

"One thing North Carolina is doing is turning the typical LMS-driven procurement approach on its head," says Hill. "The Commons takes a lightweight approach that should make it easy to get apps approved for consistent terms and conditions and do less big-company filtering."

The Medium post says the Learning Commons will ease the relationship between UNC and ed-tech companies through four benefits:

  1. Increased visibility among more than 20,000 faculty serving 225,000 students
  2. Inclusion in the UNC Learning Technology Commons, making it clear to ed-tech buyers that a company has accepted our standard terms and conditions
  3. Accelerated purchasing process
  4. Feedback on products from experienced educators
Lance King/Thinkstock

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