Summer App Clean Up

For pretty much everyone by now, the school year is over. Another set of students have come and gone and moved on to the next part of their lives both academically and personally. iPads, Tablets and laptops have been collected, cleaned and put in summer storage awaiting their annual clean up and then reassignment for the fall. As we all know every school year we have a new set of fresh Apps come in but they don’t always fit the bill we had planned on them doing or another App came along that made them to be used less and less. So, how do we decided what Apps to keep using and what ones need to be removed to make room for new ones?
In my experience I have always looked at three main factors:
1. How much was the App used by both staff and students?
2. Did the App meet the requirements it was originally set out to do?
3. Is the App still useful?
After two years at my school I have been following these rules to the T and unlike the first year, I found only a few Apps that needed to removed because they were discontinued by the companies that created them. Rendering them pretty much useless, so removing them was relatively simple. However, this year I came across about five Apps that were highly requested but then were not used or another App we already had in place made up for the lack of use. Its still not a bad list, I have to remove only seven this year in Elementary and four in Middle School and High School level. The ones in MS and HS are because the Apps have been discontinued and will now make room for new exciting Apps for both staff and students. Over in Elementary its a little less simple. The main reason is because the Apps are never used and even after showing what they can use, there are now bigger and better Apps that not only make the Apps in Elementary obsolete but also less engaging for students. When I find an App is not engaging students or has made so many changes that the App is no longer useful (Foursquare and Swarm for me) that’s when its time to hit the delete button and move on. Its a very bittersweet situation as both the staff, students and myself originally believed the Apps would be very engaging and fun but when they fail to meet the three rules, its time to part. My biggest ones this year were iButterfly, Solar System Elementary, two Phonics Apps, Bump, Ask3 and jabber pad. All started out great but with increase use of Explain Everything, new Phonics Apps, two shutting down and Stick Around coming about. They just didn’t work anymore or the students and teachers found them useless. It happens, in this day and age something that starts off so shiny and new can quickly become dull and old. The real plan is to make sure something that starts off shiny and new can continue to be fun and engaging no matter how much it changes, what students come into the classroom or how much the curriculum changes. If an App can’t do that, its time to move on and go App Fishing for ones that can. While I’m sad to see a few of these Apps go, I’m also excited about the new ones coming in. Just the other day I saw two brand new Math apps that have both the teachers and myself really excited and our children are already enjoying them. Which means we have found two Apps to bring into the classroom that wouldn’t have been possible unless we cleaned out some old ones. Of course, its not the end, that’s why iCloud, Google Play and more are around. We might delete it today but who knows? In a few months or even another school year will come and the App might be what you are looking for again. Times change, children grow up but one thing remains. We all want to learn.

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