Ed. note: App of the Week picks are now being curated by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to read the full app review.
What’s It Like?
There’s no shortage of ways to use PhET simulations in (or out of) the classroom. Effectively, any time you’d use a static PowerPoint slide or textbook image to demonstrate a concept, it’s worth checking PhET to see if there’s an interactive version. Chances are high there is already one on the site. There are also virtual versions of common lab experiences, and it might be worth using the simulation if you’re short on class time or resources. Even if you have really great videos of experiments, the interactivity of these simulations will contribute so much to your lessons that it’s hard not to use both.
Pros: Meeting students and families where they (often) already are — on their phones and online — can help make education a priority.
Cons: Without mindful use it could be more enabling than empowering; students in varying parts of the digital divide may have different access.
Bottom line: Well-designed, widespread messaging tool can keep students and families connected with their schools — provided they have access.