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June 26, 2023
Vol. 80
No. 9
Research Alert

Teachers Not Impressed by App "Buzzwords"

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    Technology
    Photo of a woman looking at a laptop and holding a pen and paper
    Credit: BONGKARNTHANYAKIJ / iSTOCK
      When teachers evaluate educational apps, they are seeking substance over catchphrases and clichés, affirms a recent study from McGill University.
      The study used eye-tracking technology and other evaluative measures to judge the responses of 57 pre-service and elementary teachers to the app-store pages of 10 simulated mathematics apps.
      The researchers found that the teachers were more likely to be swayed by solid benchmarks of educational quality—such as connection to a guiding curriculum, creation by an expert development team, and scaffolding supports for students—than by buzzwords like "hands-on," "personalized," or "multimedia." The teachers also showed greater interest in text descriptions than in images, though they were drawn to images that included benchmark information more than to other images.
      The teachers tended to value some educational benchmarks more than others, with those focused on development teams, curriculum, and scaffolding outranking information on theories of learning and feedback for students.
      The researchers suggest that the study's findings could be used to develop criteria for school app selection and to identify professional development needs.
      But the findings also harbor an important message for leaders in charge of larger school and district technology projects: When it comes to edtech selection and implementation, educators want substance and evidence of educational quality, not bland assurances and surface-level descriptions.
      References

      Montazami, A., Pearson, H. A., Dubé, A. K., Kacmaz, G., Wen, R., & Alam, S. S. (2022). Why this app? How educators choose a good educational app. Computers & Education184.

      Anthony Rebora is the chief content officer for ISTE+ASCD, overseeing publications and content development across all platforms.

      Previously, he was the editor in chief of Educational Leadership, ASCD's flagship magazine, and led content development for the association's fast-evolving digital outlets.

      Under his leadership, Educational Leadership won numerous awards for editorial excellence, increased the breadth of its coverage and contributors, and greatly expanded its online reach.

      He was formerly a managing editor at Education Week, where he oversaw coverage of teachers and teaching policy, and played a key role in online editorial strategy. He has written and developed impactful content on a wide range of key K-12 education topics, including professional learning, school leadership and equity.

      As a content developer, his foremost goals are to empower diverse educator voices and raise awareness of critical issues and solutions in education.

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