When it comes to teaching students to build mobile apps, there are a number of different programs one could choose to deploy in a classroom setting. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to those that seem best suited for your students and curriculum, you may be tempted to simply select the cheapest option, and in some cases that may include “free” software that seemingly costs nothing to use.
But is that “free” software really free? What are the hidden costs and drawbacks of using these kinds of tools to educate your students? While going the “free” route may be an acceptable decision under certain circumstances, it rarely results in an optimal educational experience. Here are some important factors to consider when it comes to choosing free vs. paid programs.
Paid programs offer much better support: In a classroom setting, you want to choose tools that offer a full range of features that will allow your students to learn and experience the app development process in a sophisticated, seamless software environment. Free tools may seem like a bargain until you consider what happens when you run into problems with the software or need help with something. With free software, you generally are on your own when it comes to figuring out the complexities or quirks of the program, whereas when you pay for products, such as MAD-learn, you get the dedicated, professional support systems that go with it. MAD-learn has a team of trained support engineers available 24/7 to help with any problem you might encounter and who will work with you until you’re satisfied that all issues are resolved.
Free usually isn’t free: Most free programs are only free when it comes to upfront monetary costs, since the companies that develop these tools have to make money somehow. Most free software tools have basic functionality for free, but make money when users upgrade to their full-featured, paid software. Other “free” software contains advertising or that it tracks usage and sells this tracking information to third parties. Often this kind of tracking and advertising is not readily apparent to users, so it is important to carefully read and understand the license agreement before using it in a classroom setting. Ultimately, you should only deploy software in your classroom from companies that provide software developed exclusively for serving the needs of educators and students, as opposed to “free” software developed to generate revenue indirectly through hidden or back-door means.
Paying for software results in better quality for YOU: When you are a paying customer of a company like MAD-learn, you have a powerful voice in shaping the way the software works and what features it offers. Especially with smaller companies in niche markets, your feedback is given tremendous weight and you can often count on suggestions you make to be implemented quickly and eagerly. With “free” software, on the other hand, your voice usually falls on deaf ears since the company is more concerned with listening to their paying customers… not you.
The Value of MAD-Learn
Beyond the most basic “free vs. paid” factors outlined above, MAD-learn has many other notable advantages that make it an excellent value for money.
Built For All Students: From the very beginning, the MAD-learn program was designed to teach students of any age and skill level how to create amazing, sophisticated, and forward-thinking mobile apps without knowing how to code or use complex software development tools. No other mobile app development learning tool, free or paid, can do this.
Educator-focused Approach: MAD-learn employs an “educator first” approach that adopts feedback and ideas from teachers around the world. Constant improvements to our award-winning product are made based on teacher and student voice. This empowers any teacher, in any subject, to integrate technology seamlessly in the classroom. Not only does this approach greatly increase the adoption rate of lessons, but it also provides an avenue for teachers to connect better with today’s students who are noticeably more tech-savvy.
Real-time Progress Feedback: Our MAD-store gives students an immediate sense of accomplishment while building their apps. This real-time feedback system allows for dynamic course corrections and encourages active discussions among student teams during app development.
Classroom Driven Curriculum and Training: Unlike other offerings, our curricula and training programs have been developed and honed specifically for the classroom. Our highly rated professional development ensures teachers are always prepared to help their students explore and innovate in the classroom. This promotes greater participation and collaboration amongst students while ensuring deep and comprehensive student understanding. Our ability to engage the youngest learners and foster their interest in technology stems directly from the carefully curated curriculum developed by some of the most experienced educators in the country.