I seemed to spend most of this Saturday driving around central southern England with a car full of often sleeping passengers. I often do some effective thinking in such situations, and this time my mind turned to smartphone apps. My mobile phone contract runs out in June, and I am looking forward to replacing my current phone with a fully-fledged smartphone, probably with a Windows 7 operating system. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not an app freak in the way that you can see on Twitter. I personally fail to understand why some educators seem to think that the world wants to hear continuously about iPhone/Pad apps. These devices will never be owned by anything but a minority of students, even in the rich West, and if it works on them, it won’t on the other devices available. I see a big future for such devices, I just don’t want to see a situation where we are only looking at Mac-apps.
To get back to the point of this post, I was wondering what kind of app would be really useful for language teaching. I’m not talking about “I would like to see an app to mark the homework” type of thing, but something really possible and useful. A bit of lateral thinking could even lead to something that makes a real difference to the teaching/learning process. Pretty much all the ideas I have seem much too complex, and even as I write I am desparately trying to think of an idea to kick the process off. Something that assists collaborative learning, perhaps. Or how about linking where you are to a task (“go into Burger King and ask what vegetarian choices they have.”), with an option to record what you plan to say and submit it to your tutor?
I would really like to hear what you think on this topic. Leave a comment here or on LinkedIn at the Learning Technologies for Language Teaching group.