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Intentional App Selection

A teacher is considering integrating more technology into her lessons. She has heard of others using Quizet, Kahoot and WhatsApp but is not really sure if she can manage students using their devices in the classroom. She becomes frustrated just thinking about which app to use and how to use it.
Where can she start?

Allan Carrington developed the Padagogy Wheel to help educators identify how mobile apps could be effectively used by their students. It also guides instructors to consider possible tools that align with their instructional requirements.  Educators can use the Padagogy Wheel to identify a course outcome, ask themselves questions based on that outcome, and arrive at possible app options for their lessons. 

The Process

1. Identify a desired outcome/ goal in your course documentation.

2. Match outcome with one of Bloom’s Revised Digital Technology Cognitive Domains. Andrew Churches’ Bloom’s Updated-Digital Technology Taxonomy includes new learning opportunities offered by emerging technologies.

Are the students going to be:

  • memorizing (remembering) information?
  • trying to understand meaning of information?
  • applying the information construct or demonstration?
  • analyzing information to deduce conclusions?
  • evaluating information to consider an issue?
  • creating with information to publish a project?

3. Choose a few terms from the Action Verbs sector that match the Bloom’s cognitive domain term.

4. Select an activity type from the Activity sector.

5. Consider the apps in the corresponding sector.  Then choose one to generate a learning opportunity for your lesson.

6. Identify how the app will be used as a learning tool in terms of the SAMR model.  Does it simply substitute normal classroom learning activities?

Implementing the App

Once the app is identified, I normally generate a quick start activity to allow the students to download the app on to their devices and try out the app in a non-threatening (no grades awarded) manner.

Following this, build a learning event for your students that complements the learning outcome statement. This includes adhering to the action verb from step 3 above. The app often will require additional materials such as worksheets, editing tools, word processor or chart paper to record results or take data or activity results to a more creative activity. Using a single app intentionally often branches out to additional learning events.

After creating the activity and implementing it with your class, take time to reflect on the learning event.  If it was a success, make alterations to the activity based on your observation notes that you made during and immediately after the lesson.  If it was less than successful, consider another app or ponder more drastic alterations to the activity based on your observation notes that you made during and immediately after the lesson.  Consider sharing the improved activity with your instructional peers to elicit their feedback.  Since your students are already familiar with the app, it may be used in different course units or in different ways moving forward through the school year.


From my experience, most instructors I have mentored have reported that their first choices do not always work out as they are attracted to the initial appearance of an app rather than the utility. They reported that intentionally selecting an app is sometimes frustrating as the learning event is not as effective or learner friendly as they had envisioned. I feel that this is a positive learning experience for the instructors as it hones their skill at identifying useful app applications.

Adopting the Padagogy wheel to any degree is just another step in integrating technology in an instructor’s teaching toolkit. If you have any experience or thoughts on this process, please comment below.


Allan, John. Google Expeditions – First Exploration. https://www.slideshare.net/mrpottz/google-expeditions-first-exploration

Carrington, Allan. Padagogy Wheel. IOS https://designingoutcomes.com/assets/PadWheelV5/PW_ENG_V5.0_Apple_iOS_PRINT.pdf

Carrington, Allan. Padagogy Wheel. Android https://designingoutcomes.com/assets/PadWheelV5/PW_ENG_V5.0_Android_PRINT.pdf

Churches, Andrew.  Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. http://www.pdst.ie/sites/default/files/BloomDigitalTaxonomy-AndrewChurches.pdf

John Allan

John Allan

John is a Canadian who writes about learning object development and online facilitation from a teacher's perspective.

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