The App Challenge

Fiona Fenton's App Challenge

My posts here will be online guides which will give you the chance to try out a few different online applications, and think about how you can use these to enhance your learner's experience. These applications have been chosen from a wide range of possibilities and are just a tiny taste of what you could do within iQualify. I've tested out all of the applications featured here in the iQualify platform. As you become more experienced, you may want to try out other applications.

Using these applications will extend the opportunities for creating interactive content in your learning platform, enriching the online-only experience.

This is all about choice. At one end of the continuum, you may need a space where learners can work at their own pace, and alone. At the other end of the continuum, you may need a space where learners can work in an environment that is similar to a face to face experience. With a solid learning platform and the careful selection of tried and tested applications, we can extend the learning experience.

How this challenge works

I'll feature one app each week here on the iQualify blog. Each post will have tasks to take you through how to use the app, and provide instructions to follow. These activities will take about ten minutes, try them at a time of day that suits you. If you need inspiration, take a look at the real life examples I’ve created.

After the challenge ends, you'll continue to be able to access them, giving you the chance to try the tasks over again and catch up if you've missed any.

Fitting in with a technology and teaching framework

This isn't just about clicky clicky bling bling - and that's where the RAT framework comes in. The RAT model (Replacement, Amplification and Transformation) (Hughes, Thomas, & Scharber, as cited in McHugh, 2014), aids decision making in how we integrate technology in our teaching. Each post looks at how the app fits in with the RAT framework.

alt © J. Hughes, R. Thomas, & C. Scharber.

For example, using a mindmap tool, such as MindMeister, instead of pen and paper is Replacement - you're using a different tool for the same outcome.

However if you share the mindmap through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, or embed it in an ePortfolio, you open up collaboration possibilities beyond the online classroom. This is Transformation.


Replacement refers to technology that is used to replace but not change the instructional methods, student learning processes or learning goals. All that changes is how you achieve the same purpose.

Example: Write a report on earthquakes using Keynote or PowerPoint. Include embedded materials and hyperlinks to referenced materials. Previously students used Word, however limited slide space in Keynote and PowerPoint encourages the process of editing findings into tighter statements and observations. The teacher's instructional method remains the same, but the technology changes.
alt © iStockphoto


Amplification refers to technology that amplifies the instructional methods, student learning processes or learning goals, making it more authentic and more real.

Example: Design using SketchUp a structure for an earthquake zone and submit for comments and discussion. Previously students submitted a hand drawn sketch which was not available for group discussion.

alt © iStockphoto


Transformation transforms the instructional method, the student learning process and/or the subject matter. Creates greater access and equity. The student learning process may be reorganised as new opportunities for problem solving, peer interaction and collaboration develop. Although studying online, these apps give students the same range of learning opportunities as those in a classroom or blended model.

Example: Research valid sources (architects and engineers) to interview (via web conferencing) regarding structure design. This panel of experts will critique students' designs. Web conferencing sessions recorded for later analysis and feedback. Previously in this online only class there were no external experts involved and tutors provided feedback to students via email.

alt © iStockphoto

To help you with your decision making, download the RAT Assessment Framework Tool app. To judge for yourself whether these applications are truely transformative, take a look at Joan Hughes's SlideShare.

Is this a free lunch?

In general, be aware that there is no such thing as a free lunch. When you use free applications, you need to give something up in return: generally your privacy. However, if you know the rules, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try these applications. Many of them offer paid versions with additional features and additional security. Using the free versions gives you a chance to familiarise yourself with the application before committing anything. Specifically be aware of future proofing; ensure that the details of the account are safe and can be passed on to the next person who may need to make changes.

Ready to take the Challenge?

A new tool will appear here each week for the next few weeks. Try the challenge and share with us how you plan to use this tool with students to transform teaching, learning and assessment practices. You can email us directly at

McHugh, S. (2014). The RAT, SAMr, transformative technology, & Occam's razor, Retrieved from