Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Kids Write an App (Sort of)

This year, we have continued to try out new apps and ideas for using iPads in the classroom. Recently, we have been experimenting with three annotation apps. One of these apps had particularly caught my eye for its unique ability to screencast student annotations with audio narration of their thinking. After playing with it for a few hours, I blogged great excitement for it, immediately purchased 32 Volume Purchase Program licenses to sync it to all of my devices and mapped out a lesson to introduce it to students.

Sometime that evening, I realized that I was ignoring my promise to myself: test apps with a small "focus group" of students before unleashing it on all of my kids. However, I had already paid for 32 licenses... I crossed my fingers and prayed that a small group of students would love it. They had to; the app was amazing!

The next day, my students responded with pure venom. The app was out.

I blogged about their reactions in a post about my students' reactions to three annotation apps to share and solicit feedback from other teachers. To my surprise, the app developer himself not only responded, but requested an audience with my student reviewers! His sole intention was the improve the apps and show the students that they could have an influence on the world around them. How amazing.

The students got permission to stay after school and organized their thoughts to Skype with the app developer. The day of the Skype arrived, and my students came in quite excited. One student shared on her mood check in:

I was worried that my students would be too nervous or intimidated to give honest feedback to the developer. I should have known better - they're never shy! The students openly critiqued the app, giving specific feedback and notes about its functionality and aesthetic.  They were both polite and excited to meet with him.

After the discussion, the app developer generously agreed to update his app with many of my students' suggestions. The students smiled, said goodbye, but didn't seem to truly swallow the enormity of what they had accomplished as 9 and 10 year olds.

Apparently a good night's sleep aided in the digestion of this idea. All of the students returned to school the next day bouncing on their heels to talk to me. They pulled me aside and said, "Ms. Magiera! Do you know what we did?! We got to MAKE an app! We told the INVENTOR what to do! And he LISTENED!" They continued, beaming about how they felt "important" and "famous". One asked if they have classes in "app cooking" in high school.


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