There are plenty of apps out there already to help students stay focused and otherwise help in their learning process, but what about the teachers? This short guide will discuss a few of the more useful ones, and let you know about some potentially harmful ones to investigate further.
Perhaps one of the more well known apps for teachers, particularly in the United States, it wouldn’t be fair to leave ClassDojo out of this list. It is completely free for teachers to use. ClassDojo has been shown to help improve the behavior of students in the classroom over the long-term, while also helping them to build on the skills they need, and has features which allow the parents to get a better view of what their child is doing in school. This can help clear up any misunderstandings that can occur between parents and teachers, particularly when misbehavior is involved.
This app is a great way for teachers, no matter what their level of technical expertise is, to create visual learning tools for their students. This can be as simple as recording a voiceover while you write or draw a lesson plan on your iPad, and the lesson can then be shared with students through any number of means such as YouTube or direct download. Because the teacher is creating these visual lessons themselves, they can be fully customized to the needs of their class.
No matter how great of a teacher you are, most kids would prefer to do stuff rather than listen to you talk about stuff. Instructables helps make that kind of hands-on learning possible, and streamlines the whole process by giving you ideas and techniques to use in the classroom. From cooking to woodworking, and just about anything else you can think of, you will surely find some appropriate DIY projects here.
You may already be familiar with the traffic light setups you can buy at some teacher supply stores that are sound-sensitive and will light up when classroom noise gets too high, but now there is an app for that. Too Noisy Lite can be used for free online, and Too Noisy Pro can be used on iPad, iPhone, and even iPod Touch, for $3.99.
It is very tough for teachers and parents to keep up with all of the new technology and apps that students are using these days, but a little effort could go a long way in preventing any harmful effects. Due to the over-saturation of Facebook and Twitter, combined with the desire to try new things, the last few years has seen a large rise in the use of anonymous apps as a way for teenagers to communicate without sharing their real name and information.
These anonymous apps – such as Whisper, Secret, YikYak, and others – have made it much easier for cyberbullying and trolling to take hold in a school.
Are your students using anonymous apps? Do they know the risks and legal complications involved? Consider setting an assignment for them to write an essay about internet trolling and cyberbullying to get them thinking about the consequences.
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 visitSPFlearning.com
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 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.
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.
I have made no secret of my fondness for generic apps that enhance learning. Explain Everything, Google Drive andEvernote can aid the educator and student alike. However, there is a new contender on the block for the No.1 app in education. Socrative 1.0 was very good – Socrative 2.0 looks excellent.
This brief introduction to Socrative 2.0 highlights its potential and possible use in the classroom. I look forward to hearing about the effect it has in schools.