Android Apps for Mobile Learning:
Created for EDU 210 Module 9: Personal Mobile Learning
For this module, I explored a number of different apps and utilities for mLearning. mLearning, or Mobile Learning is the use of cellular devices to enhance students' classroom learning experiences. I chose to focus on the Android platform because I am most familiar with it. That being said, there are plenty of cross-platform apps to accommodate students using different devices, such as iPhone or BlackBerry. Listed below are my top five apps for use in the grade 7-12 classroom. While they could be applied to a number of different classroom scenarios, I tried to choose ones that will be most applicable to my music and social studies classes. Each one is listed with images, links, and a short description.
Learn Guitar Chords
Learn Guitar Chords is a music app that teaches the basics of playing the guitar. It is free, and also includes different sound recordings for instant feedback. The quiz tool allows one to play back sounds to check for accuracy. It shows just how easy playing like the pop stars can be!
The guitar is an instrument that is often left out of the music classroom for logistical reasons. Creating a rock band of 30+ students, all on guitar and drums, would be of limited educational value. Keeping this in mind, I would still like to provide students with the opportunity to pursue the instrument if they wish. This app is a nice supplement to personal instruction as it provides students with a guide for constant reference.
xPiano is a music app that provides a tappable piano keyboard. Unlike other piano apps, it is entirely free and adjustable. It includes a 4 octave keyboard (accessible through the scroll bar), 12 different instrument sounds, and recording capabilities. While not meant to teach one how to play the piano, it provides a good reference for pitches and basic keyboard theory.
In an ideal world, every music student would have a tuner/metronome device to assist them in producing good sounds on their instruments. In the event that they do not have such a device, xPiano is an acceptable substitute. It provides accurate pitch references using a medium that most students have access to: a mobile phone. In addition to these educational purposes, I am sure that students will also have fun playing with the different voices and recording feature.
Music Theory Helper
Music Theory Helper is a free app that acts as a reference guide for music theory. It includes information on various musical elements such as chords, intervals, and rests. There are also listening and reading exercises available for testing purposes. While the more-advanced (hard and expert level) questions require payment, the free version will suffice for the grade 7-12 classroom setting.
Although I generally discourage cellphone use in the music classroom, this app proves that these devices can be a valuable learning tool rather than a distraction. Music is full of foreign concepts such as language terms and counting methods. This app provides students with instant, searchable answers in the likely event that they come across unknown terminology. The testing feature is a nice bonus in that it will help them prepare for testing scenarios.
History Trivia Game
History Trivia Game is a free app with quizzes on various aspects of world history. It presents five levels of difficulty across multiple categories. While all of the questions appear to be in a standard four question multiple-choice format, the elaborate point system and peer collaboration features make up for this shortcoming. The user collects points based on how fast they answer, and can contact friends for help in the event that they are unsure.
This app would work well as a general review tool in the social studies classroom. Even though it is impossible to create questions that are an exact match to the curriculum, the different categories are narrow enough that they can still be relevant. I would use it to encourage student discovery rather than test material. By exploring related concepts, students may develop related questions for a more in-depth understanding of the curricular material. It will also help them develop skills for completing multiple-choice forms of assessment.
Canadian Geography Trivia
Canadian Geography Trivia is a free app with interactive quizzes on Canadian geography. Unlike other quiz programs, this app allows for live competition with other individuals. Users across the country can challenge each other to short quizzes, with the fastest correct answer receiving the points for each question. The format is similar to the History Trivia Game app in that it presents basic multiple-choice questions.
The problem with apps in general is that there is always a lack of Canadian content. This app fulfills this need, with the live competition feature as a nice bonus. Canadian history is a critical component of social studies at all levels, and thus this app would be very useful in the classroom setting. I would have students challenge each other, and bring up any unknown questions in class for further discussion.