m01229/flickr

m01229/flickr

The world’s largest library is taking a swing at the app industry — the Library of Congress will be allocating up to $950,000 in funds to the development of educational apps.

The Library of Congress (LOC) recently announced in a press release that it will be giving up to $950,000 of grant money to developers to create new, educational apps for classrooms, focusing on the subjects of Congress and civic participation, according to EIN News.

Public, private, not-for-profit, and for-profit organizations will be eligible to apply for the grants, a group that includes universities, cultural institutions, collaborative partnerships, states, agencies, and Native American tribes.

The successful grantees will be expected to incorporate the Library’s primary and secondary resources into the app in order to provide some kind of interactive, educational experience to its users.

Teaching Through Interactive Education

Grantees will work with the Library of Congress‘ Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program, which partners with colleges and educational organizations to help teachers take full advantage of the Library’s vast trove of digitized primary source materials. The program aims to help teachers design challenging, high-quality curricula based on the extensive resources available at the Library.

For the past decade, TPS has propelled professional development for teachers through curricular aids. This fiscal year, however, Congress set aside additional funds for TPS to increase technological competitiveness in the hopes of staying up-to-date on the growing overlap between the worlds of technology and education.

Congress’s Classroom Competitors

The use of mobile apps in the classroom isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. According to TechCrunch, Google launched a series of classroom apps for iOS and Android in January 2015, and according to U.S. News & World Report, [tweetable alt=”70+% of online bachelor’s #degrees had a #smartphone or #tablet #app by 2012-13, says @news.” hashtag=””]more than 70% of online bachelor’s programs had a smartphone or tablet app as early as the 2012-13 school year.[/tweetable]

A 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal reported on the trend of students taking courses from their homes — not just online, but also on mobile apps.

The University of South Wales seized this technological opportunity in an effort to strengthen their ability to conduct field research. [tweetable alt=”[email protected] partnered with @bcs and the @EuropeanUnion to establish the £6.4m @CEMAS_USW to boost #tech growth.” hashtag=””]Partnering with the British Computer Society and the European Regional Development fund, they established the £6.4m[/tweetable] Centre of Excellence in Mobile Applications and Services that presents research at universities around England, including the University of Plymouth.

Brazilian Educational App Wins Mobile App of the Week

Many developers are taking the educational path with their apps, making an effort to appeal in some way to schools, students, and teachers. For the week of February 8th 2015, the Infinite Monkeys Mobile App of the Week offered class listings, resources, and other information on the Judicial School of TRT in 15th Region, Brazil.

PR News reported on the optimally-crafted mobile app, which provides easy access to the school’s agenda and social media updates, shortcuts to library and reference material, course listings, publications, contact information, and the school map.

The app’s creator integrated all of these functions into the app using Infinite Monkeys’ user-friendly drag-and-drop toolbox. The simple interface even allows app creation in several different languages — in this case, in Portuguese.

How to Apply for the Congress Fund

According to the announcement, TPS’s mobile app fund will likely target K-12 classrooms. They’re also seeking applicants who have a record of success in curricular development on civic participation, or with proven success in implementing online interactives or mobile apps in the classrooms.

Think you might have what it takes to apply? Making a mobile app is now much easier than you think. If you’re looking for a place to start, download EjudTrt15’s app to spark some ideas.

Once you’ve explored a little bit, get your creative juices flowing with Infinite Monkeys’s drag-and-drop app maker, and remember to keep K-12 students and teachers in mind throughout the brainstorming process.

The deadline for application is May 31, 2015, and the grants will support programs for two years between October 2015 and September 2017. There’s no minimum award amount, so you have nothing to lose. Further information and guidelines can be found in the LOC‘s Notice for Funding Availability.

Here’s to a more equal and universal education, where just a touch on a mobile phone screen can open the doors to the largest library in the world.