The use of mobile apps to manage and promote health is becoming increasingly popular. Mobile apps are gaining popularity particularly in educational and interventional settings owing to their perceived advantages including support for and engagement of individuals with reading difficulties. In the context of COVID-19, the need for technology-based tools has increased. For practitioners and educators who wish to use apps in their practice or recommend apps to individuals with reading difficulties, it is challenging to identify high-quality apps in app stores.
This protocol describes a systematic search, selection, and appraisal process for tablet apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills. This protocol aimed to (1) provide a systematic method for identifying tablet apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills in the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store and (2) describe an evidence-based approach for quality appraisal of these apps by using structured tools.
This protocol describes an evidence-based method guided by the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) framework to systematically search, select, and appraise apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills, present in Google Play and the App Store. We intend to perform a systematic and comprehensive search and a 2-step process for screening: (1) broad screening (app titles) and (2) narrow screening (marketing descriptions). Quality appraisal of the included apps will involve two structured appraisal tools: (1) the Mobile Application Rating Scale and (2) the Appraising Apps for Reading Checklist.
This method will help determine the number of apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness, present on the Android and iOS platforms. The content, quality, and usability of these apps will be determined using structured appraisal tools. We have planned to conduct searches on Google Play and the App Store in January-March 2021; broad and focused screening, from April 2021; and data extraction and quality appraisal in October 2021.
This protocol provides a basis for locating and evaluating apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills. This protocol will support practitioners, educators, and families to make informed decisions when purchasing apps for instructional use.