From the NAEYC ECETech Listserv:

As it takes so much time to locate and evaluate apps, I was wondering:

-Do you have favorite app review sites? (there are so many now, and video reviews cropping up, so people can see apps before they buy them.)

-Do you have a system, and if you do, what is it, for listing your favorite apps to share with others?  Is your favorites list available online/can you share it? I am interested in ways others in the group are organizing this info, and to take a look at your lists, if possible.

-In schools/programs where teachers in various classrooms may be exploring and finding new apps-are there systems set up to share about these discoveries with others?

So many apps, so little time- thanks for sharing tips from your workflow about these questions.

I’m often asked to provide lists of apps for schools, districts or teachers. This is tricky because of the wide variety of apps. In general, I’d say that there are way more skill and drill type apps available (flashcards, letter games, puzzles, etc…) most likely because they are simple for app developers (non-educators most often) to create. Apps that support higher-order think skills are less in numbers. I think the most important thing for a teacher to consider is what they want their students to accomplish using the app and then consider whether an app is actually the best resource for this learning experience. I like to point admins and teachers to the SAMR model when asking them this and then try to help them discern is the are using the app as simply a substitution for something they have always done or if they are able to use the app to help redefine the learning task.

The most frequent request I get is for FREE apps. While there are examples of outstanding free apps (ScribblePress, Voicethread, AudioBoo, Idea Sketch, etc…) there are many apps that are well worth the money you pay for them. I often encourage schools & districts to consider devote at least 25% of their iPad start-up budget to purchase quality apps and provide PD for teachers.

All that being said, I have a number of resources I can share that attempt to help organize and recommend apps for teachers. Most often, I list them on a web, wiki or blog page with links to iTunes. I’ve also used a public Google Spreadsheet to provide access, again with an iTunes link. Finally, I’ve also tried 3rd party services like AppsFire to created embeddable widgets that look like an iOS device.

Links to several different app lists that have been shared with me. Some ECE content, some K-12 too.

AppsFire widget example.

Free app list focused on high-quality apps for content creation.

Personally, I really like the Digital Storytime site for reviews of children’s book apps. This site is much more uniform in the reviews and is also searchable. Carisa Kluver has also done a nice job of trying to develop a rating system for her app reviews and shares that information on the site. Moms with apps is another site that includes reviews, as does Common Sense Media. Finally, I use the AppsGoneFree iOS app on my iPhone to send me daily alert for pay apps that are free for a day or two. Some of the apps are not educational, but I often find a gem here that I can pick up for free and save a few bucks!