No one can argue that Apple's mobile devices (iPhone, iPod, and iPad) have revolutionized educational technology in the past four years. Web-based applications, compared to mobile apps, look and feel 'old' already--maybe even passé. Most of the advice about mobile apps that we have encountered is focused on the delivery of content and how amazing that is in and of itself. The apps purport to improve upon the teacher's job and the curricula. But, as an avid educational app user/teacher and app developer, we would like to focus on something entirely different; that is, how to effectively use mobile devices and apps as instruments to help improve study skills and improve learning overall.
There is relatively no dispute that studying in short, frequent increments is the most efficient and effective method for understanding and retaining material well. A student learns and retains more from studying a singular subject for twenty minutes a day for seven days than for one-hundred and forty minutes in one day or even seventy minutes over the course of two days. Both short-term and long-term memory are improved with short, frequent, sessions and well-designed mobile apps are truly tailor-made for this type of learning. This also applies and extrapolates to subject variety. Studying multiple subjects back-to-back for twenty minutes increases retention across the board verses doing one subject per day for a week.
Mobile apps can be unique in that, with the right mixture of features, they allow the convenience and ﬂexibility to study pieces of information without the need to start over. Automatic, persistent, data-saving functions make it easy for students to review their previous answers and quickly return to where they left off; a great review tool and a huge time saver for students today. Our recommendation is to choose apps very carefully and to make sure that they have, at minimum, the above save features and/or functions that return to the last known position.
So, we have discussed how to use apps more effectively and what to look for in an app, but the question remains, what does an effective, study-enhancing app really look like and how would it function? We will examine that issue in our next post, as this is a daunting task when faced with over a thousand new apps per day.