Top 10 Apps in an Established 1:1 iPad School


The Stephen Perse Foundation has had a 1:1 iPad programme running for two years now. Whilst there are many subject specific apps utilised for learning, it is interesting to note how the top 10 apps are all multipurpose. The list below also includes an indication of how workflow is developing for the school and how an app is chosen when and where it is appropriate. For more information about how we are using the iPads as a tool for learning please visit

Explain Everything


Simply the most versatile education app available. Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard and screen casting tool that suits the needs of teachers and students alike. The app allows you to animate, annotate and narrate presentations and explanations to your audience. It is widely used across the foundation to record plenaries and provide audio feedback. It is also the app of choice for students when they are required to provide more than written material. The key to its success can found in its intuitive interface and export options. A must have app in education.

Socrative 1.0 and 2.0


Socrative is a very simple and effective assessment tool that can be used during any part of the learning process. A teacher can pose questions to a group which they answer on their device with the information directly relayed back to host. It is available as long as there is an internet connection. The most common use for Socrative is as an ‘exit’ ticket. Students answer four or five questions at the end of a lesson so the teacher has feedback to base the next lesson on. All data is sent directly to the teacher’s email account as soon as they end the quiz. Very useful for planning. Socrative 2.0 is currently in beta and has added functionality and analytics that makes the franchise a simple yet import part of the digital toolkit.



iMovie has always been a favourite with students, but it is interesting to see how it has developed as an educational tool. As well as an obvious movie creation and editing app, iMovie provides a platform to express learning. The ‘trailer’ option guides students to capture snapshots to show learning as well as input text to frame their ideas. These ‘trailers’ are then interesting starter videos or revision tools. iMovie projects take over where a student or teacher may want to add greater depth. Only today a reception class were using iMovie to show their understanding of joining words when describing a recent trip.

iTunes U


iTunes U is often referred to as our learning platform. The iTunes U courses provide the framework and resources so the teachers can get on with what they do best. Removing the need for photocopying, internet searching and distribution, iTunes U supports a culture of creation and collaboration. Having access to everything required on one device can’t be underestimated and its popularity is growing by the day. Add to this the ability to update any resource and make it available to all at the tap of a screen and you have a very powerful learning platform.



Showbie allows you to assign, collect and review student work. As a tool it meets a demand that used to be supplied by a school VLE. The difference here is the ability to ‘open in’ a multitude of apps to create content or provide feedback. A couple of taps sees a student assignment opened and annotated with audio feedback or viewed in the teachers app of choice. It is then just as simple to return the assignment to the student for immediate viewing. Showbie works very well with larger classes where the transfer of information is common and often.



Edmodo fulfils the need of a collaboration and communication tool within the school environment. The secure site is suitable as nobody can gain access to a group without the unique code. Many students use Edmodo to question their peers over challenging questions and as a platform to collaborate on projects. It is interesting to see how groups communicate under the tutelage of a teacher. Edmodo is also used as a tool to model good practice on the internet. For many students it is their first interaction with social media in a controlled environment and Edmodo has proved a very useful component of our esafety programme.



As a note taking app, Notability stands out from the crowd. With all the tools available to record information, Notability is a real favourite with our students. The most common use can be seen as students take a picture of a resource or experiment and then jot down information to highlight key terms. Whilst we encourage handwritten notes as well, it is interesting to see how Notability folders are an important part of the learning process. The export functions within Notability also make it suitable for the students as they develop their digital portfolios.



Keynote is the presentation tool of choice for students particularly when faced with a class or school presentation. The students are very positive about the ease with which they can convey a message using multimedia. There is distinct attention paid to the use of transitons to emphasise a point and interestingly an engagement with the requirements of the future world they will work in. Students often equate job applications and progress with presentations so using Keynote to express learning is very desirable. Ask a student to convey their learning and it is likely to be Keynote they turn to.

Book Creator


From simple projects to a school terms worth of learning, Book Creator has become a handy vessel for curation and creation. With the ability to add video to explanations as well as ‘widget’ type effects, students of all ages enjoy using Book Creator. It deserves its inclusion due to the ease with which all tools can be used and the export functions available. Stand alone projects are ably supported by Book Creator as it acts as a working portfolio to document the process. A favourite of the Visual Arts department.



Pages is simply the ‘go to’ app of choice when Stephen Perse Foundation students are asked to produce a piece of written work. Functionality and ease of use again mean that this app is a favourite amongst students. There are further layers to the app though that enhance the learning process. Firstly, the templates remove the need to spend time over layout and formatting. When the task requires a student to convey their learning, time no longer wasted on making the document look good. Secondly, the multimedia aspect of Pages elevates it as a document creator. As well as the written word, our students submit photos and video to support their views, all professionally laid out. If Stephen Perse Foundation students are submitting a formal piece of work, then Pages is the app they’ll chose.

It is worth noting that our iPad 1:1 programme is underpinned by GAFE with Google Drive as our cloud based storage solution.

About Daniel Edwards
Director of Innovation & Learning at the Stephen Perse Foundation schools, Cambridge, UK ( Interested in global connectivity for all and risk taking in education. Keen to discuss all aspects of learning and digital strategy. Also @syded06 on twitter.

24 Responses to Top 10 Apps in an Established 1:1 iPad School

  1. Thank you so much for this Daniel. As you know, we’re implementing a very similar digital strategy and posts like this are really useful. Keep them coming!

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  3. Hi Mr. Edwards,
    I am a student at the University of South Alabama.
    It’s nice to see how the use of the iPad can make the learning process both engaging, and entertaining. My wish is that ALL school systems would use the iPad in the classroom.

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  7. Tony Vincent says:

    Since you listed Explain Everything, you might be interested in the newest app from that app’s designers–Stick Around. You can design, play, and share sorting, matching, and labeling games. You can even export your puzzle to Explain Everything to make a screencast about it.

    It’s one of those open-ended apps that allow for teachers and students to insert their own content and make their own study aids. There’s a Pinterest page full of example puzzles:

  8. Reblogged this on ICT ASL Edinburgh and commented:
    If you’re relatively new to iPads, this is a great introduction to some useful apps for Education. Well worth a read.

  9. Patrick Simpson says:

    Great List of apps! Thanks Daniel. My kids and I use Explain Everything and Notability quite extensively in school. Since I’m an Algebra teacher, I’d toss FluidMath in to your list. Its our go-to app for graphing and calculator tasks on our iPads. In fact, it is my whiteboarding app for most of my in-front-of-the-classroom demonstrations. If you haven’t seen it, it is pretty fantastic. You can just write your math and it recognizes what you wrote, creates graphs and calculates. One of the coolest things we do is use FluidMath and FluidEquation (another nifty app) with Explain Everything and Notability to make math notes and presentations — there are not any good ways to enter math notation on the iPad, but FluidEquation converts our handwritten math notation to typeset so that it can be pasted into EE and Notability.


  10. Leanna says:

    I agree with you about the education system revolving around technology but I have never heard of Pedagogy before. But I do not that not a lot of schools these days have textbooks instead they have technology based learning.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I’d love to get in touch with you about a recent app release by Dig-It! Games, the new edition and final chapter of Mayan Mysteries.

    Is there a way to contact you directly?

    Eager to hear from you.

  12. Emma Mills says:

    Dear Daniel, SPF parents are getting innovative too! I wrote spelling hangman which is being used in the city site. There is a French vocab version too if you would like a promo code. See

  13. Caitlyn Barton says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I think this is a great post and so informative for someone who is looking to start incorporating iPad use into their classroom. I think that Explain Everything is such a neat app that could be such a great asset to the classroom. In EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama we have used iMovie in many presentations! I am glad to see you included this on your list!

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  17. Shelby Courtney says:

    Hello! My name is Shelby and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. This post is very useful, especially for my future classroom! I could use many of these because a lot of classes are now implementing new technologies that could run these apps and would make learning more fun and engaging for the students!

  18. Hi! My name is Taylor and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. Thank you so much for sharing this list. We use iMovie quite often in EDM 310, but i have never heard of most of these apps. They all seem to be very beneficial to the learning process. I will definitely do some more research on each one, and I am sure that I will use them in my future classroom.

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