Student Voice Is Key…


I have spent my fair share of time over the years attempting to create and promote set or core iPad application lists for the settings that I have worked in. Anyone out there who perhaps has done something of similar ilk will maybe feel my pain when I say that this is no easy process.

According to there are approximately 725,000 native iPad applications as of January this year. Since having picked up my first iPad in 2010 I have certainly come across my fair share that are what I would call… … rubbish, but also, those that are absolutely brilliant for so many various purposes.

I can clearly remember when whilst in my previous setting we ventured down the 1:1 iPad path in 2012 (Prior to 2012 we were part of the Department of Education’s iPad Trial in 2010/2011 which had it’s own extensive iPad list.) and we developed our first list which was, and I am ashamed to say, 70ish app’s strong. From here we turned to the students handing them an extensive document outlining all of these followed with a “now you must download all of these as we’ll be using them frequently”… Or something along those lines. In the end, I think we used 10 percent of those applications! That original list is attached below!

1-1 iPad App List 2012

So with this mammoth iPad list above there was certainly no notion of students directing their own learning or having a voice when it came to using app’s they wanted to use. Yes, very silly, I know!

From those early days, I make it sound as if I have been doing this for 40 years, I have learnt a lot. Over those years I have spoken with countless gurus, experts, iPad aficionados, and they have all just about been mostly students! There are also an abundance of infographics and visuals that all either rate, group, explain and articulate, depict and so on why this app is great and or why this other one should be used for this that or another… These graphics can be great to view and pick apart with staff but more so with students as they’ll  undoubtedly tell you what is worthwhile and what is not! 😉

The work that Richard Wells in Auckland, New Zealand has done, and is doing, I find to be outstanding and I encourage all those who use iPads in Ed if they have not seen Richard’s website, please do so! 🙂 Richard’s site also contains some of those excellent infographics that I spoke about! A favourite of mine is below.


Now to develop a ‘set application list’ I personally feel that it is needed in a 1:1 program. The list itself though should nothing more than a starting point, a guide that gets staff and students to hit the ground running. From here, the importance is and this can not be emphasised upon more heavily, that it is the students who really should be driving what applications they should be using. That I believe is one of the major keys to a successful 1:1 program, and more so a BYOD program.

Too often I have heard and also seen first hand schools continuing to ‘push’ applications on to their students. Applications that are great but also limited in their use. I am sure that we’ve all heard the “creation not consumption” tagline and there are teachers out there that swear by this. Personally, there needs to be a balance. Students need to have access to the right app for the right job.

Students do not want to learn by being told what to do and how to do it. They want to learn by being told that they have the freedom to do what they want, how they want.

At the the end of the day I did not and do not mind what app’s my students use. I was concerned with the learning that was taking place and how that learning was able to be articulated and demonstrated to me as the teacher for assessment of, as, and for my students learning.

The autonomy that something like the App Store gives is phenomenal. For students to have access to that many applications to support their learning and show their understandings is second to none. I preach here to all those 1:1 settings out there that to get the most out of your students, your devices and your technology integration programs, let the students lead the way.

I would be keen to hear what applications, no matter the device, students are selecting and using themselves to drive their learning!


2 thoughts on “Student Voice Is Key…

  1. What an interesting piece Corrie. I could not agree more about students have ownership over their (digital) choices. Alan Thwaites has been writing a bit about this lately in his push for BYOD. I am just left wondering where ‘legal’ sits with this? How do we monitor/manage the implications of choices made in school, such as age limits for apps and mis-use of information from some companies? This is a question I have been grappling with for quite a while. Would love your thoughts.

    1. Thanks Aaron. The legalities of something like BYOx certainly play a large part in all that we do with students having access to devices and using these to support their learning. I am also just as concerned with the amount of time we can spend on this from the other side of the fence. Should we really be that worried? If settings have appropriate hardware/infrastructure in place as well as the monitoring systems that go with this, then is that not enough, especially when combined with educating students about the rights and wrongs? The iOS YouTube App is rated at 17+. Are we going to stops students accessing this? I think we can get both caught up in worrying about the issues that might arise and also the fact that we are also perhaps focusing on the small minority of students who actively, occasionally, seek to head to the wrong sites/places/apps etc… Do not get me wrong, it is and must be a focus for schools however it should only play a smallish percentage of that focus.

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