As all of you know by now, I spend quite a bit of my time reviewing ed tech products. And as I’ve been reviewing educational apps I’ve always wondered what would happen when the day came when the material got too hard for me and I struggled doing the work.
I didn’t expect it to happen with Algebra I.
Now, I’ll confess that it’s been a number of years since I took my Algebra classes. But I’ve always prided myself on using the occasional algebraic equation to figure something out in my everyday life. But yesterday I reviewed an Algebra app that really stuck it to me. It wasn’t really an instructional app. It was an app that had multiple-choice quizzes interleaved with unrelated games….the proverbial chocolate-covered broccoli. The learner was required to pass the quiz with at least 80% accuracy in order to access the game. (I actually liked that they took a stab at Mastery Learning.)
Mind you, this app is targeted at middle school and early high school students. But damn if I couldn’t pass the first quiz with 80%! What the heck? I got out my pencil and paper, worked the problems (to the best of my memory, at least) and some of my answers weren’t even in the ballpark of the answers available in the questions. And the very worst part? THERE WAS NO FEEDBACK FOR CORRECT AND INCORRECT ANSWERS. That’s right. I didn’t know which answers I was getting wrong. But in order to test the app I needed to get through the quizzes!! So I then proceeded through this haphazard guessing game of answers, just trying to reach 80%. And eventually that paid off.
Fine, that’s all well and good. I tested the app, which was my goal. I definitely experienced firsthand how frustrating it must be for students when they encounter a badly designed app like this…all trial and error and no feedback. But what a humbling experience….dare I say humiliating?
I went back to the page in the App Store. What was the experience of others?
Oh. Look here. Actual Algebra teachers have reviewed this app. And what’s this? Their biggest complaint is that SOME OF THE ITEMS ARE INCORRECT?!?!?
I sure wish I had read that before I started…
The name of the app reviewed here has been omitted to protect the not-so-innocent.