The use of mobile applications (apps) to manage and promote health is becoming increasingly popular. Mobile apps are gaining particular popularity in education and intervention settings due to their perceived advantages for supporting and engaging individuals with reading difficulties. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for technology-based tools has been even greater. For practitioners and educators wishing to use apps in their practice or recommend apps for use by individuals with reading difficulties, the challenge lies in being able to locate high quality and therapeutically beneficial apps in the app stores.
This protocol describes a systematic search, selection and appraisal process for mobile apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills. The aims are to: 1) provide a systematic method for identifying mobile apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills in the Google Play Store and App Store and; 2) to describe an evidence-based approach for quality appraisal of mobile apps for phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills using structured and validated tools.
This protocol describes an evidence-based method drawing on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) to systematically search, select and appraise mobile apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills in the two largest app stores; Google play and Apple's App store. A systematic and comprehensive search process is described and a two-step process to screening is outlined: 1) broad screening (app titles) and; 2) narrow screening (marketing descriptions). This protocol describes a systematic approach to quality appraisal of mobile apps targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills using structured and validated quality appraisal tools.
This search strategy will enable identification of the number of apps available on the iOS and Android platforms targeting phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills. It describes a process of systematically appraising the quality of these apps including the perceived therapeutic benefit of using these apps in relation to phonics knowledge and phonological awareness skills. Searching of Google Play and the App Store is planned for October 2020 with broad and focussed screening to commence from November 2020. Data extraction and quality appraisal is anticipated to commence in December 2020.
This method provides the basis for locating and evaluating mobile apps targeting phonics and phonological awareness skills. Amidst a plethora of available apps, this will support practitioners, educators and families to make informed decisions when purchasing apps for therapeutic use.