Why There Aren’t Indie Productivity Apps for Teachers

As a tech nerd, I am always on the hunt for apps that make my job as a teacher easier. While I have transitioned to doing my work in iOS mostly thanks to the power of apps on the platform, I have yet to find apps that consistently make use of the latest iOS technologies focused solely on education such as apps for lesson planning.

Initially I assumed this was because there wasn’t interest in this type of app from teachers. While this is probably true, I have recently discovered another reason these apps don’t exist.

Over the last year or so, I have been teaching myself to program. It’s mostly been a hobby, but in the back of my mind I’ve kept the possibility of one day making a go of it as a developer. And what market do I know better than most? Education.

I began to think about what I was missing from my own workflow, and trying to figure out how to build that (at least in theory). I’m nowhere near the level of actually being able to build an app, but as I began to dream, I realized there was a big problem with my plan.

When I look around my own school, I see one teacher who primarily gets work done on iOS (me), one or two that use their personal Macs or PCs, and 50 or so that use whatever devices our school district has given them. Mostly this is an iPad 2 or 4, and a several year old Dell (mine is 10 years old).

What this means for app developers is if they want to develop an app for teachers to use in the classroom, the have to develop a full web service accessible on any platform in order to reach a wide enough audience to have a sustainable business model.

This immediately turns me off to the idea of ever trying to build this kind of app, and explains why the only lesson planning or grading apps (with a few exceptions) are put out by large companies and don’t take advantage of the latest iOS technologies.

My hope for the future is we see more teachers realize the power of iOS (which is a big reason for this blog), so powerful indie apps can thrive.

The Class Nerd @theclassnerd