I’m afraid that this is going to be a venting post. I try to use this blog to share resources and to, hopefully, inspire. But one of the resources that I’ve shared quite a bit on this blog has sorely disappointed me, and I feel that I need to express this.
Some people may have the idea that educators are cheap and that we do not like to pay for apps. The first part is not true, at least in the case of most teachers that I know. We spend a lot of our own money on resources for our classrooms every year. However, it is correct that we do not like to pay for apps. This is not because we balk at spending a dollar or two here and there. If I could, I would probably spend at least $100 a year on apps for my classroom. And that doesn’t even include the iTunes gift cards that I receive from parents. But I can’t. This is mostly because of the following reasons:
- Many of us do not control what we can purchase for our tablets. In some districts, teachers must propose an app to a committee and wait for approval. In many, apps are only purchased if they serve the need of many classrooms – so an individual teacher request is usually not honored.
- The Volume Purchasing Program is not very user-friendly and, as I mentioned in my first bullet, most of us don’t have access to it.
- We cannot buy in-app purchases on campus.
- It is very frustrating to spend money on purchasing an app in bulk, and then find out that it either doesn’t work because of school district filtering or it does not serve the needs of our students.
- I can only use gift cards on my personal iPad – which I do. I let my students use it quite a bit because of this, keeping my fingers crossed each time that it doesn’t get dropped or broken since it has my entire life on it.
That being said, I understand that app developers need to make money. To be honest, I’m not sure how that works. There are some free apps that I have been using for years, and I picture their developers eating Ramen noodles every night. However, there are other apps that started out free and then they weren’t. And then there are the ones that stay free, but force you to update to a version that is missing most of the features you had before – like Tellagami.
I don’t mind that Tellagami decided to add a paid version to its offerings. They have even been kind enough to provide an Edu version so that we do not have to worry about in-app purchases. The Edu version looks pretty great – with a couple of features that Tellagami did not have before.
What I mind is that the free version to which I was forced to update because my old free version no longer worked suddenly has 0 of the features that my students loved about it and made it unique. They enjoyed customizing the character and background, and they really loved the text-to-speech. You can no longer do this with the free version.
In addition, the change was made over the summer. Many teachers will return to school with the intention of using Tellagami the way they did last year and may not even discover the changes until they have an entire class of students trying to use the app.
I also mind that I now need to go back to any of my old blog posts from the last year that referred to these free features and revise them to reflect the change.
I mind that a creation tool that had become a favorite and was used on a regular basis in my classroom last year is now suddenly useless.
If anyone would have asked me (and they obviously didn’t), I would have recommended to Tellagami to keep the free version exactly the way it was with a pop-up offering the Edu version. The Edu version could offer more customization options and, as it does now, the new features of doodling and extra backgrounds.
Because Tellagami allowed me to use the free version for an entire school year, and then took away practically all of the reasons I had for using it, they have lost my loyalty to their product.
UPDATE: Here is a response that Tellagami has posted to address the concerns of educators. I still maintain that, by retracting many of the features that were available on the free version, they have betrayed those of us who had become accustomed to using the app.
UPDATE #2: I just ran across another blog post by an educator (Meghan Zigmond) who is also disappointed with the changes Tellagami has made. She pointed out another reason to find fault with the recent switch to a paid app. It is $4.99 for educators – and there is no discount for volume purchasing.