Mobile Tech

Apps Are Free for a Reason

Introducing an educational app to the classroom can be dangerous, and the danger can be revealed at surprising times with startling images.

"Watch out for someone in a bathing suit washing a car," Kristy Sailors, director of educational technology at Blue Valley School District in Kansas, told audience members during a workshop at FETC 2016 in Orlando this month.

A free app might provide an unexpected message that a teacher would prefer students miss. Parents will disapprove of their children being exposed to unwanted advertising, racy images or violent themes, so teachers should avoid introducing apps until they have been carefully checked out.

"It will bring in lots of things that I'm going to have to explain when I get the mad parent phone call," Sailors said. "It's about making sure that nothing in the app can be misused."

How to check out an education app:

  1. Play the app at all levels possible.
  2. Check the age recommendation.
  3. Review the general user policy.
  4. Conduct keyword searches for terms that could be troublesome. Think like a teenager.
  5. Remember that ad appearances vary, depending on time of day.
  6. Go though the app as far as possible to see what can happen.

Apps are expensive to create, so someone is paying for them. Remember the old saying, "If the app is free, you are the product being sold."


About the Author

Patrick Peterson worked for Florida Today, a Gannett daily newspaper in Brevard County, Fla., from 2005 through 2013, and earlier was embedded with U.S. Marines as a reporter during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In Biloxi, Miss., he was a reporter for The Sun Herald newspaper and also founded and ran a charter boat company. He is a journalism graduate of Louisiana State University.