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Published April 27, 2014 | Multidisciplinary

Educapps: Using Mobile Devices in the Classroom

Since the iPad computer tablet appeared on the market, pilot projects to develop apps have emerged and multiplied in cegeps and elsewhere in academia. There are now guides and lists of discipline specific apps, which although useful to teachers in helping them identify apps that perform a specific task, regrettably, steer clear of the pedagogical dimensions and learning strategies related to this task. Given that there are as many lists as there are experiments and internet reviews, users have the burden of collecting, comparing and evaluating apps before using them in a pedagogical context.

So, in view of this, one would naturally wish for a unified collaborative tool, able to collect and share not only lists but also pedagogical experiences with the computer tablet.

Educapplis interface

Possible collaboration scenarios from the French interface.

A Brief History

Educapplis logo

In 2011, Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup set up its own living lab on the pedagogical uses of the computer tablet to support teachers in their use of the iPad and to document other pedagogical stakeholders in their cégep. In disseminating the lab's findings, questions were raised about the sustainability and durability of the tool that would be used to collect the data. The cegep then decided to examine ways to build a partnership to produce a platform that would store the living lab results, as well as technical information about apps and comparison lists to help teachers when selecting an app. In 2012, APOP (Association pour les applications pédagogiques de l'ordinateur au postsecondaire) responded to Cégep de Rivière-du-Loup's call and, hence, a partnership was created to produce such an online tool in French which was called Éducapplis.

Collaborative, Versatile and Scalable

One decisive fact that came out of the discussions between the partners was that, in order to ensure the durability and the scalability of the platform, its structure had to be based on an existing open source tool, which would allow teachers to collaborate and share their experimentation with computer tablets, regardless of brand or operating system. Thus, a MediaWiki wiki was installed and adapted to provide a collaborative environment for pedagogical stakeholders. Furthermore, ergonomic dimensions were addressed : the wiki interface was transformed to allow computer tablet users to consult and add content seamlessly. And, given the fact that other colleges are currently running similar living labs, a joint decision was adopted by the partners to open up the wiki to the entire postsecondary community.

Educapplis interface

Possible collaboration scenarios from the French interface.

Following Éducapplis' launch, online meetings were held to collect as much information as possible about the pedagogical uses of computer tablets and apps from stakeholders from all parts of the province of Quebec. This information has now been integrated into the wiki.

Éducapplis is up and running!  But, what's next?

The Next Step

The wiki is currently being adapted and will be made available to the Anglophone college network as Educapps, the online apps repository, during this coming Fall.

Are you and your colleagues participating in a living lab on computer tablets? You can now share your findings and special favourites with your professional community! You haven't yet had the pleasure of using a computer tablet in class, but want to contribute? Why not participate in APOP's Call for proposals and submit an ICT Project about this type of experimentation? APOP's team is ready to support you in integrating the computer tablet into your teaching, as well as helping you transfer your data to Educapps!

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