Evaluation Rubric for iPad and iPad Apps

How do you evaluate apps you are considering purchasing or downloading? Will you need to justify the types of “educational” apps you use with your students or clients?

There are many reasons for having different kinds of apps on your iPad. It may be to learn or reinforcement concepts, skills, for motiviation, sensory processing, calming, organization, reference, communication or productivity for yourself or the student/client?  With so many apps available out there, whether free or for purchase, how do you choose an app and how would you justify their use? What qualifies as a good app?

Initially, when looking or choosing an app information provided in iTunes will give you some good information that I look at to decide whether I will spend time or money on an app:

  • Is it visually present appealing or appropriate for the student or client who is working with it? Too busy, cluttered, graphics not appealing or clean? Are there ads, how obtrusive are the ads?
  • Does the content of the app fit my needs?
  • What do the reviews say? Are there too many ratings of three or below? Do the ads mention crashing, rated poorly?
  • When was it last updated? If it has not been recently updated will it work well with new iOS upgrades?

If rating are poor and updates have not been recent, even if it is free I may not consider taking my time downloading the app.

Once you have decided that the apps may be worth purchasing or downloading (if free) how do you determine what is a good app that you might recommend to others?

As professionals skilled in assessment, how would you evaluate the effectiveness or qualities of a good app? If you had to justify the reason for selecting or using an app how would you do that?

An Evalution Rubric for iPad/iPods published by Harry Walker of John Hopkins and revised by Kathy Schrock provides some guidance on evaluating apps.

This app rubric provides domains that are appropriate across disciplines. I believe adding a domain of participation and interaction might be appropriate when considering apps used for some students for communication or behavior.

This rubric I believe provides a method and terminology to assess and justify the use apps for behavior, sensory processing and interaction/participation that the iPad/iPod supports so wonderfully due to its highly mobile, immediate and interactive content.

Before I had used an iPad or iPod at school I would not have believed I would be justifying using apps like Pocket Pond, Fluidity or bowling on an iDevice. I get it now. The on demand, mobile and interactive qualities of the iDevices are amazing with students with behavior and sensory challenges! So when you are asked why you use Pocket Pond, Cat Fishing or Talking Karl on your iPad, a “4” in the domain of Student Motivation may help justify the use of those apps on your mobile OT tool.

Any thoughts?


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in App Rubric, Formative Assessment, iPad, iPod, Occupational Therapy, Special education, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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