What Should App Developers Know?


Audrey Watters, several years ago now, wrote some great pieces about what Ed Tech developers should know. I’m not going to try to rewrite those, but I do wonder sometimes if app developers know what limitations we face in schools before they start building an app. So here’s my list of things I’d like app developers to know. I’d love people to add to this list, or to tell me where I’ve gone wrong. I’m certainly open to being persuaded that I’ve made a mistake, and that things are more complex than I realise (I’m sure they are).

Here goes:

We care a lot about student and staff privacy

We protect our users’ privacy, often when they’d prefer we didn’t. 

If your app requires users to create an account, it has to be really worthwhile, with a totally transparent privacy policy. Give us the ability to use Single Sign On (for all the big platforms), and we’re much more likely to use it.

We use shared iPads

Your app needs to be optimised for shared iPads. Sometimes we’ll find an app we really like, and we can’t add it to our shared iPads, so we don’t use it. If you want us to use your app, you need to make apps that work in the ways that schools use devices. 

In general, if a student has had to log in, particularly our younger students who struggle with their credentials, we want that login to stick when they log back into the iPad.

We pay for good apps

We don’t enable apps that feature in-app purchases. They aren’t worth the grief that comes to us when students badger their parents to purchase the add-ons. 

Likewise, we won’t enable apps that have advertising. We can’t know what tomorrow’s ad is going to show, so there’s no way that we’re going to install an app that might present our students with inappropriate advertising, or which just treats our users as a market.

Finally, we can’t (as far as I know) use an in-app purchase to upgrade to a full version. It just doesn’t work.

So, it’s fine if you want to make a free version of your app with ads and in-app purchases. We often use these to test apps. But please, if you want us to use your app in our classes, make it worth paying for (we’ll pay for it if it’s good), and make a full version available on the App Store so that we can buy and install it.

What Else?

I hope this doesn't come across as having a dig at developers. We rely on them and I'm the first to say that we should pay for good work. But in any partnership, listening to each other is obviously the pathway to success for all parties.

So what else should developers know about schools and how we operate?

And what should I understand about app development?

Posted on September 13, 2022 in response to Jentzly

Totally agree with this!

The other thing is that app developed should get user experience/educators input to ensure the right digital pedagogies are in use.

Question: What Should App Developers Know?

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