New Decade, New You! Build Your Own Apps!

Much of early (and current!) digital curriculum involved simply
converting the pages of textbooks into online versions.
We 🙌 Must 
🙌  Do 🙌  More 🙌 !
By this time next year, I'm fairly certain 2020 will go down as the year I became obsessed with making apps. 

As someone who spent the better part of the past two decades in educational publishing, I had a front row seat witnessing the industry grapple with how to deliver their content by way of new technologies. For a number of years, much of this simply involved putting content on-screen in some way, shape, or form. More often than not, the resultant "online" programs amounted to little more than on-screen pages of the textbook. 

Over time, a number of digital-first or digital-only publishers emerged promising anytime, anywhere access. Many of the products from these publishers follow a format where curriculum is delivered by way of e-modules. While these products and the content within may be effective, unless they are designed in such a way that they truly are usable via mobile devices, limited home broadband access of adult learners make any promises of "24/7 access" to learning difficult to fulfill. 

Data from Pew Research Center's Mobile Technology and Home Broadband (2019) report suggest that 71% of US adults who have less than a high school diploma own a smart phone, and 26% of US adults in this demographic are "smartphone only" internet users. Across all demographics, "37% of Americans now go online mostly using a smartphone, and these devices are increasingly cited as a reason for not having a high-speed internet connection at home."

With the surge in device ownership over the past decade, ALL educational content providers—both tech-first companies and traditional publishers—now are challenged to provide more mobile-friendly and/or mobile-first options. The need for mobile-friendly content (meaning it is both viewable and usable on devicesis not just a matter of convenience or the desire to be cutting-edge—it is born out of necessity. If we are to truly ensure equity in learning, we must provide quality learning resources in formats that can reasonably be accessed by those who could most benefit. I believe this means mobile and, ideally, app-based. 

That's why I am really excited to share January 2020's resource of the month, Glide. Glide is a no-code app builder that allows anyone to create mobile apps using nothing more than Google Sheets. Yup, you heard that right. Create a Google Sheet, connect it to Glide, and POOF! You have an app! 
Using content organized in Google Sheets, Glide lets you take images, links,
text, and videos and create (and continuously update) apps in minutes. 

Creating Apps Is Easy....and Addicting!

Apps can easily be shared with
students, other teachers, or
anyone you wish to give access.
I was introduced to Glide in mid-2019 when the organizers of a day-long conference I was attending used it to create the agenda. After checking out the site and tinkering a bit, I was immediately hooked. 

One thing I instantly fell in love with is how easy it is to share apps using Glide. Once you create an app, you can share it with ANYONE simply by sending a link, or providing a QR code for people to scan. Once someone clicks the link or scans the code, they are prompted to add the link to their home screen (specific to their mobile device). Once this is done, even though what they are launching is technically a website, Glide will operate just like any other app would. This means any app you (or someone else) creates can be shared with anyone by simply copying and pasting the app link (or scanning the QR code). And, any updates you make are instantly synced.

So, how can educators use Glide?

For the past few months, I've been experimenting by taking freely available resources such as videos (YouTube), interactive math practice (Khan Academy), content pages (Math Is Fun) and organizing the content in various ways to create a number of different app types. Here are some ideas that I've come up with...

Idea 1 | Create Video Playlists / Libraries (App Link)

Anyone can add a video to this app right
now! Just share a learning video you love
by completing this form.
Using Glide and the contributions of a handful of educators, CrowdED has been using Glide to start building an Adult Education learning video library. How? It's actually pretty simple. Each time an educator completes this form to submit a quality YouTube learning video they feel is effective/engaging to learners, the Form results populate a Google Sheet. We've taken that Google Sheet and linked it to the Glide App that we created. Now, once a new video is submitted, the app instantaneously adds the video to the list. 

While CrowdED Learning is using this Forms -> Sheets -> Glide process as a means of experimenting with crowdsourcing teacher-recommended content, teachers could use this same process for a number of things. Want to create a neighborhood directory of students' favorite stores? You could create a Form that allows students to submit their favorites, using the activity as a way for students to use Google Maps, find a location, and copy + share a link to that location. The end result is an app YOUR STUDENTS helped create. 

Idea 2 | Create Topic / Unit Specific Apps (App Link)

If you use an assessment such as GED, HiSET, TASC, TABE, or HiSET, then you likely find yourself trying to pull together content related to the skills students need to develop based on their test reports. What if you could build subject- or topic-specific apps that provide links to resources aligned to learner needs? We've created an app full of learning resources that align to the Expressions + Equations math domain at Level D of the College & Career Readiness Standards. (This also is Level D if your students use TABE 11/12). Using SkillBlox content alignments available to everyone, we've taken the aligned instructional content from CK-12, interactive practice sets from Khan Academy, and text-based concept overviews from Math is Fun and listed them all out in this app. This gives learners multiple options to build their mastery of all of the standards within the Expressions and Equations domain. 

Using this model, you too could create an app for any subject or topic, drawing from content anywhere. We are in the midst of working with partners to develop similar apps that help learners with HSE prep!
Using alignments from SkillBlox, we created this app that provides instruction, practice,
and interactive vocabulary using resources from CK-12, Khan Academy, and Math is Fun.

Ready to Experiment? Join Us!

It took me some time to sit down and write this blog because I had grand visions of providing some type of basic instructions for how to use Glide. In this case, however, I think it really helps to see it in action first. Soooooo, we'll be hosting a webinar on Thursday, February 6 at 4 PM Eastern to introduce Glide, show some basic tips and trips, and build an app right before your very eyes! During the webinar, I'm not only interested in showing you how easy it is to use Glide; I'm also (more) interested in hearing ideas for how you think Glide could be used with your adult learners. 

In the meantime, check out the apps I've linked to here, or go check out Gide and experiment yourself! Make 2020 the year you became an app builder!

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