Three Apps to Ensure Your Student Never Gives Back the iPad


Mobile is at the forefront of our edtech development here at SAS Curriculum Pathways—not simply because it's the hottest emerging hardware technology entering classrooms around the world, but because of the exciting possibilities it brings to traditional learning environments. We’ve known for years that simply dropping off hardware in the classroom doesn’t have a significant impact on learning. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently confirmed that, despite the rapid pace of innovation, technology alone has had mixed results on student performance (as measured by OECD). You can view a webinar from OECD here or read the full report here.

Even today, 5+ years after the launch of the Apple iPad, mobile technologies remain most exciting for their potential. With every innovation in hardware technology, innovation in content and new or modified pedagogies increases by an order of magnitude. Concepts like touch and portability have had a profound impact on the development of edtech resources and their utility for learning. This intersection of technology, content, and pedagogy is where mobile can and does improve learning.

Trunk in Color

Ten distinguishing factors set the mobile learning experience apart from other technologies.

We focus on what makes mobile unique and how we can engage learners across a spectrum of knowledge and higher-order thinking skills. We don’t want simply to bring static text or a web page to the mobile screen. Instead, we rethink the learning experience and how it could and should be different.

Thus far, we have published seven free apps for math, reading, writing, and more. We designed three for the family iPad, the iPad that stays at school, the iPad mom brings home from work, grandmom and grandpop’s iPad, or—in the case of Flash Cards—the iPhones and iPod touches at home. While we've designed apps such as Reading Records and Data Notebook with a teacher-student relationship in mind, our Read Aloud, Math Stretch, and Flash Cards target students with access to mobile devices in any context.

Read Aloud

SAS Read Aloud fosters a love of reading by making shared reading experiences possible anytime. Word-by-word highlighting and guided word interaction help young readers develop print concepts. And because one of the most important parts of shared reading is the reader, we’ve made it easy for anyone—parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings, and others—to record themselves. Young readers can begin understanding how letters combine to form sounds and words, as well as how words are structured into sentences to tell stories.

* Currently, Read Aloud is available for iPad.

Math Stretch

SAS Math Stretch is a free, fun, engaging app that provides a suite of activities to develop elementary math skills and number sense. We love watching parents have to drag their kids away from iPads with this app. Exercises target skills such as counting, number relations and operations, and telling time. Settings in each activity make it easy to dial into the appropriate level of challenge for each learner. For example, you can on and off whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and negative numbers; you can also control the number range and problem difficulty to tailor each activity.

* Math Stretch is available for iPad and Android tablets.

Flash Cards

With SAS Flash Cards, students can create decks easily, learn efficiently, and share their work with others on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Students can also download and play decks in any subject and in various question formats. Decks have been created on virtually every subject from sight words and animal identification to nursing terminology and atomic structure. This is a great one for students of any age! And these aren’t anything like the old note cards we used to use for flash cards. Now, students can add audio (great for language learning) and images too.

* Currently, the Flash Cards app is available for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and the web.

Passback Effect

For parent readers, Read Aloud, Math Stretch, and Flash Cards have proven particularly powerful apps in support of the passback effect. We’ve all been on one of those “are-we-there-yet” trips. Today’s digital natives avoid the time-wasting ennui of such journeys by using the mobile devices passed into the back seat by their parents. While it can be difficult to compete with the latest game or the hottest movie, these apps will provide miles of quiet, engaged learners. And when you get to your destination, your passengers may be reluctant to give up the iPad because they were having too much fun... learning.

Other Mobile Resources from SAS Curriculum Pathways

In addition to the free apps in the app stores, you'll also find over 1,000 mobile-friendly resources at You can check them all out here.

We're excited about the future of mobile learning. Every year, we look forward to the release of new devices and the potential they will unlock. You can read more about mobile learning in our latest book, Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Developers, Educators, and Learners. We are always exploring new ideas and rely first and foremost on conversations with teachers and students to share their thoughts, discuss their needs, give us feedback, and help shape the next update or app. Please join us on twitter or Facebook.


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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