Rob Xenos is the Software Development Manager of the Cleverstore app store. Rob has worked on the Cleverstore since its launch in 2015 and is responsible for selecting and vetting apps for the platform. We asked Rob about his views on the growth of apps in education and the future direction of the Cleverstore.
Why do you think the use of apps has exploded in education?
Apps have become part and parcel of everyday life. We use them at home and at work, and therefore it’s only natural that they are used in the classroom too. Teachers are teaching a generation of children who have grown up using apps – to them it’s the same as picking up a pen and paper. Plus, they are a fantastic way to encourage interaction and build a higher level of student engagement – and large format touchscreens are integral to this experience.
What was the thinking behind the Cleverstore?
The main reason we built an app store on our device was that although teachers wanted to use apps as a teaching aid, they weren’t able too because of a lack of access to the best apps. The Apple Store and Google Play required set-up of an account with a payment card – and this was a major barrier for most teachers.
Since its launch in 2015, we are in constant talks with the top education app developers and teachers to ensure we add new apps and content that is curriculum specific as well as being advert and in-app purchase free. The problem many teachers found when downloading apps from other leading app stores is that they have no control over advertisements, which at best are annoying and at worst can be incredibly damaging to pupils.
What are the next exciting developments?
We have been developing the Cleverstore for our overseas customers and will shortly be announcing the launch of a native French language section. Starting with 12 apps for primary level teachers, we have plans to add more over next 12 months as well as roll out across other languages.
We’ve also just announced the launch Lynx as an App in the Cleverstore. Lynx is one of the most popular teaching software and is used extensively in schools. The latest app version includes a whole host of new features including Maths, Tables, Time & Date Tools. Now teachers can open existing Lynx lessons, Smart Notebook® lessons, iwb files and teach without the need for a connected PC, or create lessons on their laptop from home and present from within the Lynx app in class.
What are your predictions for the future?
I believe we will see a big shift away from pen and paper teaching towards a purely digital learning environment. Given the severe budgetary constraints the education sector is experiencing, schools find themselves under increasing pressure to cut costs and yet maintain or even improve results.
Head teachers need to innovate – and many are turning to digital means to bridge the financial gap. As an example, apps can be a cost-effective way to demonstrate cause and effect. In a science class for instance, students could conduct experiments using app tools rather than physical equipment. Not only does this allow them to try out experiments safely it also saves the school money on costly equipment and wear and tear. We are also seeing more app based versions of text books, once again enabling significant savings on school budgets.