Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Education Apps Are This Generation's Baseball Cards

I'm noticing a trend with tweets, emails, blogs, and educational publications recently.  We have a baseball card mindset when it comes to apps.  Think back to when you were a child and baseball cards were extremely popular.  Maybe they weren't popular in your circle of friends but you couldn't help but notice that baseball trading cards were buzzing.

What was the point of baseball trading cards?  Adolescents flocked to local stores in search of that elusive rookie card or the card of their favorite player.  They bought small packs of cards all the way up to boxes full of baseball cards hoping to find "that one" card.  They purchased hard covered binders with plastic pages to keep track of their most valuable cards.  The most valuable card was probably placed in its own small plastic case to keep it in mint condition.  Some cards were traded but mostly cards were accumulated and stored away.  The number of cards in a collection was thrown around as a sense of pride and for bragging rights, "I have 358 baseball cards."But that number was nothing to other collectors if the cards in the collection weren't worth the value of some single trading cards.

Thinking about all of the apps being discussed around the Internet, Twitter, and around schools made me see a connection between apps and baseball cards.  For some people, it seems like they are just collecting apps for the sake of saying they have a bunch of apps.  They install apps, use them for awhile, and then place them in a folder where they go to collect e-dust never to be used again.  Folder after folder after folder, filled with apps someone else said they just had to install.

When it really comes down to it though, most people have very few apps that are worth using.  Instead of people trying to collect as many apps as possible, let's start selecting and using apps that are useful.  Let's select one or two apps and really use them to their full potential.  Put students in front of apps that help them create their learning.  Put teachers and administrators in front of apps that help them do their job to their full potential.

We are creating an app world that is becoming too much like the baseball trading card world.  When all is said and done, those baseball cards aren't worth the card stock they're printed on.  Will all of our devices suffer the same fate?  They will if we treat them like a storage space for apps and not a device to create learning.