Pushing the boundaries of educational content development and production through learning apps

Traditional educational resources such as textbooks, workbooks and Powerpoint presentations are flat and not interactive.

While some advances have been made, such as introducing more video into classrooms or introducing additional game-based learning activities, there is still much more technology and design can do to enhance the learning experiences in classrooms across the country.

Today’s learners and teachers deserve innovation beyond online textbooks or videos–even beyond gamification.

At Disco, we see the future of education in apps that are exciting for students and fun to use.

Apps can be distributed on the gadgets that are ubiquitous in the lives of modern students, such as phones and tablets, and they provide a cost-effective solution for educational institutions that might otherwise struggle to update traditional resources, such as textbooks.

The benefits of educational content that are developed and produced as interactive, digital environments and utilize multiple tools within the platform go beyond increasing engagement in students and decreasing upkeep costs for institutions.

Students who engage with digital learning environments that are thoughtfully designed and presented in innovative ways are more likely to retain more information and perform better academically.

Innovation in Action

At Disco, we worked with energy expert Dr. Michael Webber from The University of Texas at Austin to bring his work in the energy water nexus – Resourcefulness – to life.

This mobile STEM learning app, learners can access digital, interactive curriculum on their phones, tablets or computers.

Within the app, we transformed the content of an expert–in the case of Resourcefulness, Dr. Webber–into a learning environment that’s comfortable and intuitive, speaking to different learning styles and making learning about a vital STEM topic fun.

Thanks to the philanthropic support by our partners at Itron, the Resourcefulness curriculum is available free of charge to K-12 students worldwide. Resourcefulness isn’t only easy to access for students and teachers, it’s modular and scalable, meaning that as the content calls for updates, those can be made efficiently.

Resourcefulness can be deployed in a guided classroom setting or independently in a self-directed study setting.

Additionally, because of the freshness and relevance of digital curriculum and interactive tools, learning apps can be integrated into employee enrichment programs or continuing education programs outside of traditional classroom settings.

Pairing Curriculum with Interactive Tools

Within Resourcefulness, there are different types of interactive tools strategically deployed throughout the content.

  1. Photo collage
  2. Video
  3. Pinch and zoom interactive
  4. Tap and scroll
  5. Drag and drop
  6. Dial tool
  7. GIFs

Diversifying content presentation brings the tools beyond a simple “book behind glass” concept and allows learners to interact with content that otherwise might have been a static image in a textbook (whether analog or online) or a slide in a Powerpoint presentation.

To see each of these in action, you can download Resourcefulness for free on your mobile device.

The power of interactive tools to enhance learning

Deploying these tools within an app allows students to connect with, experiment, quiz themselves on and dive deeper into the content presented.

Here’s what we did in Resourcefulness, but keep in mind that the possibilities for interactive tools across disciplines are just about endless.

  • A photo collage illustrate the world’s biggest challenges in resource management through five high-resolution photos
  • Tap and scroll allows students to scroll across an 18th century Chinese scroll of the Yellow River or to explore a timeline of water-related societal collapses
  • A video clip of author Dr. Webber brings his written text to life through a clip of a lecture from Energy 101
  • Drag and drop tools allow students to sort trends and technologies into major themes covered in the section, with immediate feedback on the activity, without ever leaving their place in the text.
  • A GIF brings the James Watt Beam Engine to life, at multiple angles, so that the steam-power revolution can be visualized dynamically
  • Tap and scroll (or in this case, spin) allows 360 degree views of GRACE satellite imagery
  • Dial tools allow students to control a graphic of hydroelectric system to study the influences of flow rate and hydrostatic head

While there are many more examples of how we deployed interactive tools to make the concepts in Resourcefulness more interactive and engaging, these are a good cross section of what is possible with innovative educational content development and production.

Great educational apps are tools to bring great curriculum to life and give students more access to learning opportunities.

By implementing interactive tools in educational content development and production, great learning apps can be created for any subject, discipline or learning level and can serve a diverse range of student populations.

To see educational content development and production innovation in action, you can download Resourcefulness on your favorite device today.

Pushing the boundaries of educational content development and production through learning apps
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