By Paul Swaddle, Pocket App chairman.
As we start a new academic year and term, now more than ever college and university dropout rates are a concern for many education establishments. A high dropout rate not only damages reputation, but also reduces the amount of funding awarded to the organisation.
Previous figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that over 32,000 students dropped out of university after a year of study in 2013. Of those who dropped out, 7,420 transferred to another university, while 24,745 were no longer in higher education. Three years on and dropout rates are still a concern and institutions are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to attract students and keep them engaged.
An increased amount of colleges and universities are working closely with industry experts in order to integrate technology into the classroom and into their own practices with real world hands-on projects providing new and innovative ways for both students and teachers to keep up to date with technology advancements.
There are many examples showing how educational organisations have changed their approach to student communication by integrating technology in the classroom, appealing to the younger demographic. Indeed there are now a wide variety of apps that have real appeal and below are the ones that I think are really being exploited:
- The SAMR model: This app helps teachers integrate technology into their teaching and a student’s learning. It was created with the explicit aim of helping teachers design, develop and integrate digital media to increase students’ academic achievements. This is the perfect example of an app that has been designed to move colleges and universities into the digital age.
- Class Dojo: Teachers are able to store students’ information and can easily provide negative or positive feedback around their behaviour in class. The information is sent straight to the parent and student separately. The app records and tracks all behaviour data so it can then be viewed in a graph and analysed by both teacher and parent. This app helps to tackle dropout rates as the parent and teacher are alerted to erratic behaviour or attendance and then they can act quickly on that information.
- Socrative Teacher: Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races through this app, which is sent straight to the student’s tablet or phone. The app will instantly grade, aggregate and provide visuals of results to help teachers identify opportunities for further instructions, with the aim of saving time and visualising student understanding. This app tackles issues straightaway, as lecturers can be alerted to areas of the topic that need more explaining.
- Educade: This app allows you to easily search by grade-level or subject area to find any lesson lecturers and teachers need. The app comes with the resources that will be needed, a step by step lesson plan, and even reviews from other teachers who have tried it out. Therefore, teachers are able to keep lessons and lectures exciting so that more students will be willing to attend throughout the course.
- Schoology: This app enables teachers to manage their classroom, to create and submit assignments, participate in interactive discussions, and to collaborate with their peers to make the communications in colleges and universities quicker and easier. Not all students have the confidence to interact with a large amount of people often found in lectures, this app effectively deals with that issue, as well as enabling students to ask for help via a discussion room, rather than doing it in-person.
All of these apps aid the development of the students, so that they feel more connected with their college or university. For the organisation, this means that they are able to attract a younger demographic to their institution as well as adapt their communication systems to ensure all students’ needs are met.
Going forward, some of the more innovative colleges are starting to evolve their own apps as more and more organisations realise this is the way forward for communication and success. For example apps can be used as a key indicator of trends to show the performance of the college or university. Equally apps can be used as a way of tracking admissions and understanding where students are in their development, ensuring any students that are struggling are given all the extra help needed for them to continue with their education.
It is time for all educational organisations to become more competitive in the world of technology and apps are one way to make the organisation stickier as you can monitor key indicators for students across the board and become more pre-emptive and responsive.
Pocket App is a mobile app consultancy and app developer.