During her hybrid classes, Sherry Boyd teaches military students who sometimes train during the week, parents who juggle full-time work and parenthood and middle aged people seeking a career change.
She needed a strategy that could keep her absent students up to date on lectures and class assignments, and fresher ways to keep remote students engaged.
That strategy was the art of app smashing: creating content with mobile apps.
“I [realized I] could use apps and other tools to help them be in class,” says Boyd, sport and technology chair of the district faculty committee for North Lake College. “I thought, if I can do that for my military students, why can’t I do for students whose child is sick and they can’t make it to class? Or for the 40, 50 year olds who are going back to school and can’t make it to class, but want to be there?”
Boyd says she uses apps like Tellagami to inform her students about class updates, or to give a background of the class or campus.
“The Tellagami app allows you to create your own avatar,” she says. “You can put your voice to it, or take text and type it in and your avatar will have voice box above their head. You can share it, even if you only have 30 seconds to present something…and send to students. It engages them right away.”
Aside from using app smashing to catch up students on class content, Boyd also uses it to keep distance learners’ attention invested in her lessons.
Apps like Nearpod enable her to display lectures on her students devices. Nearpo also gives students the opportunity to hold Boyd’s lectures in their hands and follow along on a devices that they are comfortable handling.
“Nearpod engages students,” Boyd says. “You can have that presentation on your device. You can have interactive lessons, and it’s device agnostic.”
Most importantly, Boyd says app smashing enables instructors to check in with students to make sure they are on the right learning path.
She says some of the apps she uses allows her to see students take tests in real time on her iPad, check in with distance learning students, and get a feel for the atmosphere in her real-time class.
“They can take real time assessments,” she says. “[And you] can take the pulse of a room.”