How to find the perfect app: The Great App Checklist


Last summer at the Apple developer conference, WWDC, we learned that there were more than 1.2 million apps in the Apple App Store alone. That's a lot of choices. In a sea that large, understanding how to find apps for the classroom can be challenging. In speaking with numerous educators, we learned that most app downloads result from a colleague's recommendation (i.e., word of mouth) or from choosing the first app in the search results. These are both sound strategies given the limited time educators have to explore each new app. But a larger point has become clear: learning to swiftly evaluate apps has become an essential skill in the fast-growing, ever-changing mobile classroom.

The Great App Checklist,

The Great App Checklist,

We offer this checklist to help educators zero in on the app they need and to judge how well it performs key functions. This rubric can help developers understand how educators choose apps, what information would help someone in this audience, which details to mention in the app store summary, and what is the essential functionality. The checklist's themes – Purpose, Alignment, Pedagogically-based, Personalization, Sharing, Ease of Use, Privacy, App Citizenship, and Access – are those discussed throughout Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Developers, Educators, and Learners.

Our checklist is the result of a meta-analysis, based on several popular app checklists, as well as our own contributions, completed through research and extensive conversations with educators. Tony Vincent, Kathy Schrock, and Jeff Dunn have put together app evaluation tools here, here, and here.

Be sure to let us know what you think of the checklist and how it might evolve as mobile learning continues to change. To download the Great App Checklist, read Chapter 1, and explore more about Mobile Learning head over to


About Author

Scott McQuiggan

Scott McQuiggan leads SAS® Curriculum Pathways®, an interdisciplinary team focused on the development of no-cost educational software in the core disciplines at SAS. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University in 2009, where his research focused on affective reasoning in intelligent game-based learning environments. His research has been published in more than 30 journal articles and refereed conference proceedings, and been recognized through several best paper nominations including Best Student Paper Award at the International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction.

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