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5 Problem Solving Apps for the iPad

Written by David on August 6th, 2014.      0 comments

Poorly used a tablet can be reduced to a digital work sheet that facilitates busy work.  But the app store is a trove of apps that facilitate higher order thinking.  Here are my top problem solving apps for the iPad.

Before I continue I want to re-iterate the busy work nature of a lot of apps.  If a teacher can not get any formative assessment data out of an app or if a student can not demonstrate what they have achieved in a given time, then the activity has to be carefully re-evaluated as to its worth.  I have developed a process of "layering" learning when using apps.  I teach teachers how to plan to take the best of one app and layer that with the best of an other app, so that the students can share what they have learned or attained in a particular lesson.  In turn the teacher can then use this data for formative assessment purposes, for OTJs or even as National Standards evidence.

So when using an app, I encourage teachers to evaluate what learning evidence the app can provide to them and if it can't how can they extract what they want to know through layering.  In other words, just because an app does not keep a record of individual attainment, it is not necessarily worthless educationally, we just need to manipulate the learning potential a little more.
unblock me Unblock Me:  This is a variant on the traffic jam game.  The principal is the same, release the red block from the jumble of other blocks.  It takes strategy and forward thinking to solve each level and each level gets progressively harder.  This app is great for challenging the students to see who can solve the problem in the least number of moves.  To extract information you have to layer with another app such as Educreations.
cargo bot Cargo Bot:  This tool is an introduction to object oriented programming, but is simple enough for even year 1 students to have a go.  There are a limited number of racks on which to build your programme to solve the problem for each level and it quickly becomes apparent that deeper thinking is needed.  The trick is to be scored three stars for each level.  Any less means that the code could be tighter.  The good news is successful completion of a level allows the user to create a video of their solution to share with others.  You can see our tutorial on Cargo Bot here.
hashi Hashi:  This is a logic problem each circle or island has a number in it, the number denotes the number of bridges that can connect to the island in a horizontal or vertical direction.  Starts off simply enough, but gets progressively harder and there are lots of levels.  Great for collaboration and the outputs of the students will have to be layered with other apps such as Skitch and Fotobabble.
move the box Move the Box:  This is a deceptively simple game, but is very challenging to succeed at.  Be warned that the internet is full of video solutions for each level, so layering strategies will be needed with this one if you are to stop students from cheating!
sokoban Sokoban:  Totally engrossing, infuriating and engaging all at the same time.  A simple concept, boxes can only be pushed and have to be moved in a warehouse to cover the green Xs.  Great for strategy building, problem solving and collaboration.  Will have to be layered with tools such as Educreations.



David has been a specialist in the field of elearning for over 12 years. He has presented on elearning at conferences in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His consultancy work includes education and business clients. READ MORE


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