Making Good Use of Free Apps in Support of New Mobile Learning Initiative

Tech tips
Woman using mobile apps

The Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition  is about uniting a very wide circle of people who care about empowering others through literacy; my home state of New Hampshire is part of Team WorldEd’s Adult Literacy XPRIZE work, and I feel privileged to participate. Handheld educational technology like learning apps that run on  mobile devices are potentially powerful new resources for providing access to learning to anyone who desires it.

The common spark among the adult learners in my community is true grit, and the English literacy learning apps that are free during the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition provide me with an opportunity to tap into those sparks, use my technology integration skills, and together build on the belief that with hard work success is just around the corner.

In what follows, I share some of the resources I made to help me and my colleagues make the most of these apps as well as  the implementation practices and resources that we can use to support mobile learning beyond the competition.

Evaluation Framework for End-Users: Learning App Evaluation Rubric

A challenge that any teacher faces when integrating a new instructional resource is the difficulty anticipating how learners will engage with it. Can they log in and navigate? Do they know where to look for learning content? Will they feel excited to learn? In response, I turned to my learners to do an evaluation of the apps.

To better understand how the apps might work for my learners, I use this rubric to gain learners’ perspectives on the ease of use and operability of the apps. I asked adult learners in our higher levels to explore the apps and score a rubric for my review. From the earliest feedback, I was assured that many adult learners in our community could download the apps and use them on three occasions independently, right from the beginning. The rubric helped me get a user’s perspective of the functional application of the interface from which to push out the project with different levels of facilitation on my part.

Supporting Manual Control of Devices

Not all learners have past experience using apps on their phones or other mobile devices. It helps to be prepared with resources that you can use during an orientation session, when you can “onboard” learners and make sure they can access and use their accounts. EX: Gauss Development’s page on Mobile Gestures.

Some of our adult learners needed more support with tap gestures and navigation.  As well as providing some direct assistance with the download, login, and use of the apps, I created a postcard of touch gestures as a handout. Our mission with the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition is for our adult learners to supplement their classroom learning with the apps independently.  Acknowledging that many of our adult learners are new to using mobile devices and that a barrier was the various touch gestures, I felt the need to provide them with a portable touch gesture cheat sheet.

A visual guide to touch screen gestures.

Helping learners choose content

Adults new to learning online might be overwhelmed by the range of learning opportunities and content available to them in an app. Or, they do not understand what it is they might learn there. Creating a few print-based reference materials can help make learning content less abstract.

The rich content is a wonderful bonus to having the four XPRIZE apps, and I thought that if I created a menu of lesson choices it could help the adult learners preparing for secondary credential assessments, (HiSet, in our state). I created postcards as handouts to help market what is underneath the hood of the apps and bring an awareness to the wealth of supplemental lessons that are a part of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE competition. You can access all of the postcards on the google drive link here.

The postcards are designed with check boxes to be used over the summer in collaboration with classroom teachers as a tool for measuring distance learning hours. The postcards are also my way of marketing the apps for continued use by students and also to build/increase teacher/tutor awareness in our community of the free content that is available to supplement and enrich adult literacy.

Many teachers are eager to use mobile technologies, including learning apps, as a tool to give learners a chance to learn anywhere or anytime. Getting started with this work can be challenging! A common mistake is to assume that once learners have the apps in hand, they can persist on their own. The resources shared here can help you shape a mobile learning initiative that provides adequate support for learner persistence.

Visit the Team WorldEd site to access more mobile learning resources, including webinars, customizable outreach materials and more!



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