“Apps are great and students love to play and learn with them, but apps cannot be teachers. You must, first, have an objective. What do you want to achieve with this app? What do you want your students to learn?” – Ovi Barcelo, Spain
As a reader of Daily Edventures, you may be very familiar with one of our favorite Windows 8 resources: Innteach (formerly known as the “Windows 8 Apps in Education blog” or “Teachnology”), created by alumni Ovi Barcelo and Luis Fernandes as a way to evaluate and share the best Windows 8 apps for education. The blog, originally in two languages, is now translated into five different languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Chinese and English.
“The best part of it could be that we are not only searching for educational apps,” says Barcelo. “We analyze apps not directly related to education and we try to give advice about how to use them in the classroom.”
Barcelo is very passionate about what apps can – and can’t – do for a classroom. “Apps are great and students love to play and learn with them, but apps cannot be teachers,” he says. “You must, first, have an objective. What do you want to achieve with this app? What do you want your students to learn?”
What is Barcelo most excited about now? The mobility that apps can provide. “I have always said that the best thing that technology provided to education was 24/7 learning,” he says. “With mobile devices and apps, this concept has increased exponentially.”
I’m pleased to share today’s Daily Edventure with Ovi Barcelo. Enjoy!
Note: We at Partners in Learning have been so impressed and inspired by Barcelo and his team’s drive, determination and collaboration all for the greater good of education, we created a Pinterest board based on their concept of sharing the best apps for Windows 8 available today. You can also find the top Windows 8 in Education apps, curated by the Microsoft in Education team, here. Take a look and let us know what you think.
What inspired you to start using/making education-based apps?
I am passionate about technology and education because I found technology to be one of the biggest changing agents that we, as teachers, have to innovate in our classrooms.
At Julio Verne Bilingual School, we have been working with Microsoft and Partners in Learning for almost four years, so we always use Microsoft technology. Since Windows 8 has been launched we try to use it to its potential in our lessons, so I started to investigate and test all the new features that this new operating system has to offer to education.
After all this testing I decided to do something that is integral to everyone that has worked with Partners in Learning: I decided to share what I have learned during all this period of investigation. That is why Innteach was born. At the beginning it was just a blog where I commented on the apps I was testing, but soon it became something bigger. More teachers joined the project by commenting on apps in their own languages. Luis Fernandes and Joao Cunha were the first to join. Then a lot of teachers from different countries joined us, and now Innteach is translated into five different languages (Spanish, Portuguese, English, Danish and Chinese).
This is why I’m working — together with the other contributors — very hard in the fascinating world of apps. But apps are not coming out of nowhere. Behind the apps there are developers: developers that invest their time and their knowledge, most of the time for free, to improve the way education is advancing right now. We realized that apps were very important, and the section “the faces behind the apps” tries to give voice to those developers who are working very hard for the innovation, as well.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to create education apps?
Apps are great and students love to play and learn with them, but apps cannot be teachers.
You must, first, have an objective. What do you want to achieve with this app? What do you want your students to learn? To learn, for example, the multiplication table, is it enough with one of those amazing apps that you can find in the market? If you do so, we teachers have lost our role in the classroom. So, to avoid being, figuratively, supplanted by a machine we must take care of many things:
– What is the goal of the activity?
– What is my role in it? And my students’ role?
– How am I going to evaluate it?
– How am I going to measure it?
– How will I impart the learning objectives to the students?
Apps are interactive, but without this approach, they are no more interactive than a pencil and a piece of paper. Apps can auto-correct questionnaires or even exams, but can they evaluate them?
In my article in the Partners in Learning network (10 tips to integrate a VLE in your school), I also make this comparison between working less and work more effectively.
But I do not want to miss the opportunity to present our new Innteach blog. (http://www.innteach.com). Because of the support from Partners in Learning, we were able to take a big step forward and redesign Innteach. We are looking forward to hearing what people think.
How have apps/mobile devices changed the way you view education?
Learning is everywhere, and now – more than ever – with the powerful component that is always present in every app: gaming.
The power of games in education is, without a shadow of a doubt, the key point for changing education in the near future. The best way to show it is using the concept presented by Anthony Salcito in one of his keynotes. Everyone can imagine how a student feels if they receive an “F”: disappointed, sad, not very encouraged to keep working. Yet, when the “game over” screen appears on a game, the player wants to play again; wants to know the way he can improve; wants to become an expert on that game; wants to LEARN how to solve that problem.
So apps will definitely set a milestone in education. Apps will set a milestone for students, because they have access to information and content everywhere. And apps will set a milestone for teachers, because we have to change our role in the process.
What is the most significant change in the world of education you’ve observed in the last year? Why?
Gaming. With apps, this concept is getting bigger and it will be the reason students will regain a passion for education.
What have you learned in the last year as part of your professional development that you would like to share with our readers?
My school has upgraded to the latest version of SharePoint in Office365. It is so good and now I’m learning to get the most out of it.
What are you most encouraged about in education right now?
The world of the apps in Windows 8. I believe that the combination between the Desktop computer and the Apps that Windows 8 offers could be a big step ahead for education.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
Collaboration. I am passionate about technology in education and the possibility that we have today for communicating with every single corner of the world. To me, collaboration the best way of learning about what is happening around the planet.
Where do you see your professional path taking you next?
I don’t really know. I love to enjoy the moment and now with my school as a Microsoft World Tour School, 2013 and Innteach getting bigger, it is enough for me.
Does your school need support in navigating the fast-changing technology landscape? Microsoft can help. Schools with an interest in learning about inspirational leadership, proven records of innovation, and successful implementations of change can become Partners in Learning Innovative Schools. To become an Innovative School, complete all requirements on the Partners in Learning Network – http://www.pil-network.com/schools
And for leading-edge schools with proven track records of innovation, becoming a Partners in Learning Mentor school can help you further transform your school while mentoring others. Schools must apply on the Partners in Learning Network to be selected to be a Mentor School. Applications are open through September 30, 2013. For details and to apply at http://www.pil-network.com/schools/mentor