How to Choose Mobile Apps for Developing Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Kathy Schrock Bloom's Cogs

Image by Kathy Schrock

Mobile technology reminds me a bit of the goose that laid the golden egg.

Bear with me a minute.

In the fable, the goose’s owners slaughter it in an attempt to plunder all of its gold at once, causing their daily supply of eggs to dry up. Told this way, it’s a cautionary tale against greed. But what if, instead, the owners did the opposite: Cherish the goose for its novel ability to produce shiny objects, while forgetting the value of the eggs themselves?

That would result in a very different cautionary tale.

Discussions about mobile learning often center on the technology and its capabilities — which, to be sure, are impressive. But treating mobile devices as simply a novel tactic for classroom engagement is to overlook the golden egg: mobile technology’s incredible potential for developing kids’ cognitive skills.

“Mobile devices offer access to many tools that can help with the production, construction and creation process,” said educational technologist and ISTE board member Kathy Schrock. “The ease of searching for and installing apps from the various app stores can support students as they find niche products at their point of need.”

By choosing and applying mobile apps using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide, teachers can help students progress through lower- to higher-order thinking skills.

Mobile Learning Webinar“There are many pedagogical models that can be used to support mobile teaching and learning,” Schrock said. “Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (2000) is one that focuses on the development of a cognitive skillset rather than the use of technology. The development of the cognitive skills at each level of Bloom’s — remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating — can be used across the curriculum and in real life, too.”

She offered the following suggestions for selecting apps that help students move toward higher-order thinking strategies:

Apply the research other educators have done.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, especially if you’re just getting started with your mobile learning initiative. Plenty of educators have compiled lists of apps appropriate for each cognitive skill level. For starters, check out Schrock’s guide to apps that support Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

To demonstrate how to use different apps at different levels — and to use the same app for every level of Bloom’s — Schrock will present a webinar on H.O.T.S. for Bloom’s Nov. 20.

Critically evaluate new apps.

As you discover new apps for classroom use, take the time to evaluate their suitability for developing the cognitive skills you want to target. There are many mobile learning evaluation tools available to help you identify which Bloom’s levels an app supports and whether it has the features you need to accomplish your students’ learning goals.

Look for opportunities to create.

Seek out apps that allow students to create and share their own products. With the diversity of apps now available, the sky’s the limit as far as what types of digital content students can create.

“There are all types of ways students can create digital products that showcase their mastery of content acquisition,” Schrock said. “Besides blogging and videos, students can create a podcast, a digital cartoon or puppet show, an infographic, a database, an app of their own, a screencast of a process, an instructional song, a labeled diagram, and many more.”

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