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Common Core app adoption: Tips for administrators

Superintendents should provide an overall vision for Common Core and digital technology goals

The constantly expanding world of mobile ed tech means apps have become the tech of choice for implementing the Common Core State Standards.

Administrators must now wade through hundreds of Common Core-aligned apps to determine which will get the best results in their classrooms.

“We’re all looking at apps differently now—instead of saying ‘This app is good for reading,’ we’re saying ‘This app aligns to these [particular] Common Core standards and outcomes,’” says Robbie Melton, associate vice chancellor of mobilization emerging technology at the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Melton is a self-proclaimed “appologist,” and reviews educational apps to find those that are best for classroom use.

Principals, superintendents and CIOs are increasingly leading app-adoption efforts, according to a 2013 survey on K12 mobile technology by IESD Inc. and STEM Market Impact. Superintendents, curriculum leaders and district CIOs should work as a team when implementing Common Core apps, Melton says.

The superintendent should provide an overall vision for Common Core and digital technology goals, while the curriculum specialist deploys standards and apps to classrooms. The CIO needs to anticipate upcoming changes in mobile technology and how they will impact education, Melton says.

Where to find education apps

School officials can search for Common Core and other apps by device, subject and age group on the following websites:

This summer, tools like the recently released Amazon Fire phone—which features a 3D screen—should be evaluated by a CIO for educational potential.

Melton says Common Core apps should meet the following criteria:

  • Allow teachers to modify content to meet the students’ needs
  • Accommodate different learning styles, particularly for students with disabilities
  • Include a built-in assessment component to measure progress
  • Promote inventiveness by giving students a chance to create within the app
  • Simulate real-life situations in which students can apply the new Common Core concepts

“Common Core skills of communication, critical thinking and collaboration are all inherently skills that technology use can be aligned with,” says Samantha Adams Becker, director of the NMC Horizon Project, a report that analyzes emerging educational technology.

Cloud computing services such as Skype or Google Drive, for example, encourage students to communicate, work on projects together and share online resources, she says.

Administrators need to determine their learning strategy and how it can be assessed with Common Core standards before adopting any apps, Becker says. She also recommends collaborating with administrators from other districts and sharing best practices.