An Iowa State University horticulture professor is turning to a smart phone app to replace a textbook in one of her classes. Cindy Haynes helped develop the app to help students learn to identify more than 250 garden plants by their color, height, physical features, growing zones and other stats. The app is available to the general public for $20 and to students for just $10, versus textbooks which routinely run more than $100.

“This is cheaper than the textbooks that I could require for the class,” Haynes says. “Twenty dollars isn’t that substantial and $10 for the students isn’t bad at all. And yes, it’s a way to filter it back to the university and not to a book publisher and the author of a published book sees less than this.”

Haynes says one-third of the purchase price goes back to the university. She says the app, called “Mobile Educator: Flowers 101,” is going over very well with students and she thinks it’s also allowed her to improve on her craft, too.

“Going through this process has made me realize how my students study for this particular class and how I can better connect with them or help them learn different studying techniques or different ways to use technology,” Haynes says. “It made me think about how they study and how I teach and that in itself makes me a better teacher.”

The app is designed to be compatible with i-Phones and Droids. In addition to saving students money and making it easier to study, Haynes says the app is also catching on with master gardeners and garden center employees.