Teachers are notorious for spending tons of personal money on their classrooms. I am no different. I try to balance this by searching for dollar deals, repurposing things, and begging. When all else fails my personal budget takes a hit.
Since November, when the iPads first found their way into my classroom I've been on an app spending spree. I am learning moderation (says the woman who burned through $20 dollars just this week....) and also have begun the search for bargain apps.
Don't get me wrong, I think developers deserve to earn a living from their hard work... I buy apps that have great reviews or fit a need. Apps can cost a lot to develop, and I want to support developers of quality educational apps. Ways you can support developers- leave reviews (be honest, not brutal). If you have a real complaint, try contacting the developer before ripping their app apart in the review section. They can't fix what they don't know about and they can't erase your review... Even after they fixed the bug.
That said... I can't afford to pay for apps for each iPad in my classroom. Even with the volume purchasing program, even with picking a handful of favorites. I am having to be careful about which apps I use in class so I that am ethical. If I buy a game for my own kids, or a utility for me, I only use it on my families 4 personal devices. For the class iPads I will primarily use free apps. I am picking a few great apps to purchase through the VPP for next year... Hints are that I might be getting a 1:1 setup next year.
To increase the effectiveness of my iPads on a limited budget, I need to find GOOD free apps. Here are suggestions for how to do this:
There are some free apps that actually help you find free apps... Such as
Free App Genie
Free App A Day
Still some trial and error here but it beats slogging through the app store.
Because I am addicted, I do usually check the education category of the app store every couple of days to see newbies and look for freebies.
Another good way to find apps that are free for a limited time is to look through the top charts section of education (and other sections, business and games often have good Ed apps... Good freebies often pop to the top.
Belonging to www.iear.org or following #iear, #ff, #edapp on twitter helps too. They often share when an education app is available for free.
I try to post when a good app is temporarily free... But usually only for ones I think are too good to be missed.
When you find an app that you really like, be sure to go to the "developers page" link in the top right of the apps description. Some developers have free and paid apps, and chances are you'll like more of their apps.
Don't be afraid to try a lite or free version... And do buy the full app if you really like the lite version. Be sure to read reviews though...
Lastly, be sure to get apps when they are free... They will always be free to you, even if you delete and reload. An app might be free on day, and full price the next. Be a savvy shopper. Unless you have a big iTunes budget, In which case I am always accepting donations. :)