Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2017

Bloxmob

Create and share apps even without coding experience

Common Sense Says:
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Grades
8-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Scaffolded design process lets students create an app quickly.

Cons: Missing some needed teacher support materials, such as lesson plans and a dashboard.

Bottom Line: Create real-world apps right away and make ideas come to life.

Possibilities abound! Teachers can create custom apps for their own communication and classroom-management purposes with BloxMob. There's a template to set up a checkout app that teachers could customize for their classroom libraries, for example.

STEAM clubs will put it to great use, especially alongside or after discussions of the development process. Students can learn about the Agile development process and then gather requirements, design a tool, test it, deploy it, and get feedback from users. One pilot school's middle school STEAM club gathered requirements from first-grade teachers, designed an app, and then gathered feedback from the first-grade students in the testing process. Tutorials and very responsive support are available on the site.

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With BloxMob, students and teachers can create apps and share them with others who have downloaded the BloxMob app. There's a whole community, with user profiles and discussion forums for support and idea sharing. Users can download the app to access apps others have made, but the real fun is in creating original apps using BloxMob's website. Students can choose to start from scratch or work with a template. They then select the features they want to include in the app, customize the look with images and colors, and share it, either privately or publicly. Features range from map-based tools, such as restaurant reviews, to sale and trade postings and polling and voting tools.

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BloxMob is the epitome of the R in SAMR, redefining how students learn, create, and share. They can focus on the content they want to share without the distractions of learning to program; once that interest is piqued, the coding can come. While creating an app using BloxMob is easy, the planning, process, and reflection is where the learning happens. Students can easily push out an app in a class period, but that may not give them the depth of experience that working through the design process could -- that will take some teacher planning and prep. Some lesson plans along those lines would be a great addition for support.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Students are empowered to control the design process in bringing their ideas to life. Drag-and-drop controls are easy to figure out, and students can have an app up and running in a few class periods.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

BloxMob takes edtech to creation level, allowing students to make apps without any coding experience. They get the full design process -- from gathering reqs to creating, testing, and adjusting -- and can share for real-world application.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Tutorials guide kids in the how-tos. Forums give users a chance to share ideas, questions, and challenges. In-app chat help is available and responsive. A teacher dashboard is in the works.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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