Jul 26 2017

5 Apps Educators Should Use in Their Classrooms

A university student offers perspective on the applications students are using to be productive.

As a millennial college student, I very rarely let go of my smartphone. It is no longer just a device for communication. And I am not alone. In the third quarter of 2016, a Nielsen study found that 98 percent of people aged 18-24 have a mobile phone.

That kind of marketplace dominance means universities must respond and adapt to the importance of mobility in higher education. For example, Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., is equipping every freshman student with an iPad.

As a student in Chicago, I have found myself often stuck on a delayed “L” train or bus worrying how the delay will impact my day and the things I need to do. But I work from my iPhone to maximize unexpected delays and juggle the responsibilities of work, on-campus involvement and study.

My smartphone has also allowed me to collaborate on group projects while waiting to pick up a pizza, write an archeology final (footnote citations and all) while commuting between campuses, and chat with overseas classmates for homework help.

As a student, these five mobile applications impact my daily life:

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1. Slack Streamlines Group Communication

The Slack communication app lets students create a group chat with classmates and even create subchats for different topics to keep conversations focused. It’s great for group projects, and professors often join the chats. This way, I can communicate faster using my preferred method of communication.

2. Remind Revamps the Traditional Planner

Remind was developed to help educators reach students where they spend most of their time — on their phones. The app allows professors and students to set up text reminders for important deadlines. It comes in handy for me, especially during midterms. Because the reminders are on my phone, not in a planner, I’ll always read the notifications.

In a National Education Association article, Ken Halla, a high school teacher, mentions the success he has seen when encouraging students (and parents) to use the app.

“I was stunned by how many more students started doing the homework,” he says. “I just thought they didn’t want to do the work, but it was more that they were unorganized and had forgotten to do it.”

3. Google Slides and Docs Boost Real-Time Collaboration

The most important aspect of Google’s Slides and Docs apps is that more than one contributor can edit files in real time.

G Suite for Education has allowed me to work seamlessly with other students, whether they are overseas or just across the library.

The apps also give students the option to individualize work. And there is little difference between working on a phone versus a laptop, which is very helpful for mobile users.

4. Gmail Helps Teachers and Students Work on the Go

Most students know what it feels like to take the time to craft a perfectly worded email only to have the professor respond with a curt “Sure” and a “Sent from my iPhone” signature.

It’s clear that students aren’t the only ones working on the go. The ability to send and receive email via smartphone is imperative during the school year, so students can quickly communicate with professors, advisors and more.

Since it is another Google platform, they can also share Google Slides and Docs in a snap.

5. Google Chrome Broadens Access to Academic Resources

Students can use Google Chrome as their window to the web, but it also helps them reach academic resources that may not have a mobile application.

For example, DePaul University uses Desire2Learn, a web-based learning management system designed for instructors and students to interact and manage coursework.

I use it every day. By accessing Desire2Learn through Chrome, I can create and submit my work all from my smartphone.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.


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