How it's born
The Web offers significant opportunities for teachers interested in exploring active, student-centered teaching methodologies. These opportunities arise not only due to the vast availability of content but also from the abundance of tools in the form of Web 2.0 and mobile device applications. These applications allow users to create and share digital artifacts, facilitate communication and collaboration within a workgroup, and aggregate, remix, and share a wide array of digital objects. If utilized during daily teaching and learning activities (TLA), these applications can enhance students' collaborative, cognitive, and creative work, thereby innovating traditional educational practices. However, despite the ease of use and availability of these applications, their understanding and utilization in school contexts remain relatively limited.
The concept of AppInventory emerged in November 2016 as part of a doctoral research project in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics at the University of Udine. The goal was to create a multimedia digital catalog of applications initially designed to assist teachers wishing to innovate traditional educational practices.
The catalog serves as a cognitive tool for the discovery, learning, and assessment of a broad set of applications that, while typically not designed for educational use, represent significant potential for implementing technology-supported active teaching approaches.
AppInventory includes over 300 beneficial applications for creating digital artifacts, interacting, organizing, and aggregating. Using these applications during daily teaching and learning activities can enhance students' collaborative, cognitive, and creative work, thus contributing to the innovation of traditional educational practices.
The reviewed applications are described using various taxonomies and have been grouped, based on their functionalities, into three macro-categories:
- Creation and sharing of digital artifacts
- Facilitating communication and collaboration in workgroups
- Aggregation of diverse content
The primary aim of the catalog is not to enhance operational skills in the practical use of individual applications. Instead, it is intended to stimulate teachers during micro-educational planning. AppInventory strives to be a well-equipped "toolbox," suggesting original activities, enhancing their variety, and offering students tools for the creation and reinterpretation of cultural content.
Given the broad variety of applications presented, we hope that this catalog will be of interest not only to teachers but also to those involved in technology and to all, professionals and non-professionals, who wish to discover and experiment with new tools within their activities.
All materials are available in both Italian and English and can be accessed via this web platform, which allows for the exploration and evaluation of the apps.
The project received contributions from numerous students at the University of Udine. These students, with diverse roles, made the creation of this catalog possible. It was a tangible and challenging active learning experience that involved 138 students over two years and could not have been coordinated and concluded without the support of cloud-based platforms for sharing and collaboration.
AppInventory for Education is a teacher training project that involves methodological and educational innovation through the use of the AppInventory platform. The training, set up in a laboratory format, is organized into thematic modules, each independent from the other. These modules enable the direct experimentation of digital tools and the creation of products to use within individual teaching activities. Participation in each module is formally recognized as a training activity. The project has a three-year duration, from January 2023 to December 2025, and includes two teaching periods each year: January-March and September-November. The sessions are held at the University of Udine's campus locations in Udine, Gorizia, and Pordenone, or online. AppInventory for Education is part of the Regional Program for Digital Schools in Friuli Venezia Giulia 2021-2025.
The aim is to carry out the training by integrating it with the teachers' planning activities: we propose both the experimentation of digital tools and the creation of products that can be used in teaching.
The project was conceived and implemented by the SASWEB Laboratory of the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics at the University of Udine and is promoted by the University of Udine's CIRD (Interdepartmental Center for Educational Research).
The portion of the project dedicated to teachers in Friuli Venezia Giulia is supported by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the Regional School Office FVG, and the ISIS Magrini Marchetti of Gemona del Friuli.