Tips 2012 Professional Learning #20:Which app is right for you?

When selecting apps my rule is “less is more”…In my experience it is better to have a few carefully selected apps that you can use in multiple ways than an app for every topic.

For many teachers at the start of a semester or the beginning of  a new school year you will be deciding which apps you will be using in your teaching. Selecting the right apps can be a challenge when there are so many applications on the app store. Always keep your educational objective clearly in focus, it is easy to be seduced by bright colours and cute animations. Think carefully about what the student will do… will this app allow the students to create, engage in higher order thinking and connect in new ways? There is some value in apps that allow students to consolidate their skills in an engaging manner. Apps that support the teaching  and can be used across the curriculum are good value per use as opposed to apps that will be used once or twice in a specific area.

A colleague Jan Clarke from AISWA has shared an extensive list of apps that she has complied. Classroom apps  Thanks for sharing all your hard work Jan. I look forward to hearing from you about the apps you find most useful in your teaching.

Tips 2012 Professional Learning #19: Gopro cameras and mobile learning

The simulation surfboard with wheels

I have been exploring different ways of making learning more mobiIe. We want to take learning to exciting authentic places in the real world. The gopro video cameras capture high resultion video footage of high speed activities. I recently presented at the fabulous Createworld Conference in Brisbane. At this conference the focus is on sharing how you are using  technology to stimulate creativity. A interesting use of mobile technologies was an inspirational performance by Beau entitled “Sliver surfer”. Beau set up a simulation with a silver tarp and a surfboard on wheels. The surfboard was fitted with a “Gopro”
and a small projector connected to an iPhone. On the iPhone were video Images of waves which were projected on to a silver tarp. The tarp was used to form the tube of a wave. The “surfer” then surfed through the tube on the surf board with wheels.

The Gopro captured the experience  of the surfing simulation. The video could be uploaded to an iPad for on the spot editing in iMovie and shared on Vimeo. This raises the possibility of capturing high quality video of simulation and authentic experiences an exciting combination of science, technology and visual arts.

Tips2012: Teachers’ Voices #5:A learning challenge exploring tastes and flavours

Peachy flavoursA learning challenge “Taste my world”

The yr 1 students at Rossmoyne Primary are very busy working on their learning challenge “Taste my world.” This class has students from thirteen different cultural backgrounds and they are exploring tastes and flavours from around the world. I am looking forward to working with them and their teachers next week. Watch this space for exciting updates.Gelato -a taste of Italy

Tips2013: Teachers’ Voices #4:Miss D & the Superstars

Add your own images to create personalised puppets

Add your own images to create personalised puppets

Miss D and her class the Superstars have been taking a journey back in time this term to celebrate the 75th anniversary of their school.


“The students worked in small groups using the Puppet Pals app on the iPads kindly lent to us by Dr Jenny Lane from Edith Cowan University. Our class has been lucky enough to take part in the TPACK Project, which is researching the integration of iPads into classrooms to help teachers successfully integrate this technology in the future.

Our class has loved using the iPads,  movies made with the Puppet Pals app show how our class has been reflecting on their learning in History this term and having lots of fun at the same time.”

Tamara Doig




Create your own animated puppet show

Create your own animated puppet show

Puppet Pals can be used for digital storytelling. Students develop a storyboard, create scripts with dialogue, design their puppets and select backdrops for the story.

This is a great tool for learning a second language because students have to narrate their story. The stories shared recorded and shared

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide: #60: Google Earth

The Google Earth app lets you hold the world in the palm of your hand – on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It enables you to explore global satellite imagery, tours, and photo overlays on your iOS device.

There is a large education community built around the Google Earth application, and it has many classroom applications. It is so much more than a mapping application – as revealed in the links at the bottom of this post.

For: Teachers, Students (Grades 4-12)

Cost: Free (Download)

Requires WiFi?: Yes, this is a very WiFi intensive app.

Educational Applications

  • Support student inquiry in geography, social studies, history
  • Enhance student presentations – creating audio-visual Google Earth tours for projects
  • Virtually visit sites of historic / geographic significance
  • Add photos / videos / voicethreads about your local community to share with other Google Earth users worldwide
  • Use in conjunction with Google Sketchup to design and build your own virtual city (as a Google Earth overlay)
  • Take your students on a virtual “Lit Trip”, exploring places mentioned in a story
  • Solve maths problems using the Google Earth measuring tools

Further Reading & Exploration

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #59: World FactBook for iPad

The World Factbook is a highly recommended iPod / iPhone / iPad app for social studies and geography teachers (primary and secondary).

It includes extensive information on 250+ countries around the world, including maps, flags, geography, demography, government, and so much more. This app is a fantastic  resource for student research, and is available entirely offline – NO WiFi required!

For: Teachers, Students (Upper Primary – Secondary)

Cost: $1.99 (Download)

Requires WiFi?: No.

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #52: Sound Recorder Pro

Sound Recorder Pro is an easy-to-use voice-recorder for the iPad, useful for recording just about anything – meetings, memos, voice emails, reminders, …

It enables users to easily categorise and colour-code recordings, and will soon enable users to download recordings via their computer web browser. (It currently only supports email export).

You might also want to test the free alternatives – QuickVoice Recorder, iTalk Recorder, and Smart Recorder Lite, which we will review at a later date .

For: Teachers, Students, Administrators, Students with Diverse Needs

Cost: $0.99 (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Not for recording, but required to export files.

Educational Applications

  • Oral history interviews
  • Create short audio explanations of learning concepts (good for students with diverse learning needs)
  • Create audio content for presentations
  • Record responses to student assignments (anecdotal assessment)
  • Voice memos, records of meetings
  • Creating podcasts (in conjunction with the iPrompt teleprompter app) via @nathan_stevens


Tips 2012 Professional Learning #9: Apple TV+ iPad = IWB

Project and share the learning on a big screen

iPads are essentially designed for individual use, yet in classrooms we often need to show and share the learning processes.

Traditionally we use interactive whiteboards where a computer is linked via a cable to a large touch screen attached to the classroom wall. This allows the computer technology with digital content to be projected and shared. This can create a didactic situation where the teacher has to be in a position close to the front of the classroom to operate the Interactive whiteboard, and not circulating in the classroom engaging with the students and monitoring their work.

Apple TV is a small device costing approximately $100 that allows the teacher and the students to connect their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch wirelessly to a TV screen or a  data projector to show their screen and share their work with the class.

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #37: Pinnion

Check the students’ understanding before, during and after a lesson.

Pinnion is an online polling and an audience response app. There are versions for iPads, iPhones and Andriod devices. You can create surveys and quizzes, and share a link via email or Twitter. There is even a WordPress plug-in for your blog.

For: Teachers, Students (Primary to Secondary)

Cost: free for launch

Requires WiFi?: Yes

Management Tip
How to use Pinnion

Educational Applications

  • Develop quizzes and surveys
  • Allow all students to respond to questions and see how others have responded
  • Quiz students on a topic then present an argument, or explanation then repoll them see if their understanding of the topic shifts or develops
  • Enable all students,even the shy ones, who do not usually respond to questions in class to demonstrate their learning, comprehension skills, and understanding of topics across a wide range of learning areas.

Recommended Reading

Please help us to build these resources for teachers by supporting the research. Click on the link to complete a short survey and enter the draw to win an I-tunes voucher.

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #36: Explain Everything

Explain Everything This is the screen casting app that I am using with the TIPS research project schools. It provides a way for students to create and produce their own resources and share their learning.

Many teachers use this app to deliver instructional content to students. You can capture your lesson with diagrams, demonstrations typed or drawn and annotated pictures. This is easily shared with students to view as many times as they need at home or at school.

Integration with Cloud Services = More Choice

* Note: Google Drive integration is coming in imminent release of EE v2.0 in late Jan 2013)

Suitable for primary to secondary classes, Explain Everything is integrated with EvernoteDropbox, and Google Drive; making it very easy to import materials (e.g. pictures, slides, documents) from your computer or the internet (including your web browser!).

Explain Everything is the only screen-casting app which allows users to choose where they export and share their work. Screencast movies, and EE project files, can be emailed, or saved to the iPad Camera Roll, Evernote, and Dropbox. This allows users to collaboratively edit project files, and choose a service to host their video online (e.g. YouTube).

With advanced editing options, including the abilities to create multiple slides, feature live websites, and use visual aids (eg. arrows, laser pointer), Explain Everything remains the most versatile screen-casting app in the Apple Store, and comes highly recommended by iPad educators around the world.

Video Export Management Solution

In response to common complaints about the length of time required to render EE project files to movie formats, Explain Everything recently released the Explain Everything Compressor for Mac OS X (10.7 / 10.8 only). This paid app ($14.99) enables users to render EE videos on their computer – saving a considerable amount of time. (Click here for an alternative non-Mac solution – via EdTechTeacher).


For: Teachers, Students (Primary to Secondary)

Cost: $2.99 AUD (Download Link). (VPP Option)

Requires WiFi?: Yes, but only for access to full functionality and web-sharing.

Educational Applications

  • Create a repository of video tutorials for your class / school wiki / website
  • Explain mathematical thinking, written work
  • Present an argument, or explanation of a topic (literacy)
  • Enable students to demonstrate their learning, comprehension skills, and understanding of topics across a wide range of learning areas.

Recommended Reading

Please help us to build these resources for teachers by supporting the research. Click here to complete a short survey and enter the draw to win an iTunes voucher.

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #35: Educreations

Educreations is an incredible FREE interactive whiteboard tool available as an iPad app and online web tool. Once you create a (free) account, it is easy to add images, draw pictures, and write on the whiteboard slides as you explain your ideas.

When you’re happy with your video, you can watch it on the iPad, or upload to the Educreations website. You can share your videos publicly or privately, via email, Facebook, Twitter, or the Educreations Tutorial Gallery (under development). Public screencasts can be embedded into blogs, websites, etc.

Educreations is a more advanced app than ShowMe, and it was specifically designed with educators in mind (see the video tutorial below). Like ShowMe, teachers recommend the use of  teacher / class accounts to save and share student videos (tip via blog post by @nate_kremer)

For: Teachers, Students (Primary to Secondary)

Cost: Free! (Download Link)

Requires WiFi: Yes, to upload completed work

Educational Applications

  • Create a repository of video tutorials for your class / school wiki / website
  • Explain mathematical thinking, written work
  • Present an argument, or explanation of a topic (literacy)
  • Enable students to demonstrate their learning, comprehension skills, and understanding of topics across a wide range of learning areas.

Recommended Reading

Please contribute to our iPad research by completing a short survey, and entering our draw to win an ITunes voucher!

Tips2012 iPad App Guide: Aurasma – Augmented Reality App

AurasmaMake the pages come alive by using augmented reality.
Augmented reality combines computer graphics and  images of natural objects to make a 3D image or simulation. This is used in advertisements and texts indicated by a large A icon.

To use this app in class, the students can create their own video footage to link to an icon. This is good for learning journeys to showcase project work.

It can also be used outside in treasure hunts and discovery trails, where icons are posted around the school. When students scan the icons using the Aurasma App or the iPad the Auras they have created will spring into life giving the audio and video commentary.

For: Students (Secondary) & Teachers

Cost: Free for lite version (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Yes

Educational Applications

  • Create augmented reality learning objects for lessons for your class / school wiki / website
  • Students create auras to demonstrate three dimensional properties of objects
  • Present videos, images and sounds in response to visual cues
  • Enable students to demonstrate their learning,skills, and understanding of topics across a wide range of learning areas.
Please post how you use this app in your classroom

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #28 – History: Maps of the World

History: Maps of the World is a free iPod & iPad app for Social Studies, History, and Geography teachers, compiling maps from different eras throughout history. Viewers can explore maps by theme, historical events, and geography.

The digitized maps are easy to navigate using touch gestures, and can be zoomed in to show fine detail. While the app is a large download, the maps are available for offline viewing.

For: Teachers, Upper Primary and Secondary Students

Cost: Free (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: No

Further Reading


Tips2012 iPad App Guide #23: Our Choice

Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis is presented as the future of digital textbooks, and is a truly innovative, visually stunning text. Written by Al Gore, Our Choice is the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, and is a rich multimedia exploration of the science of climate change and climate action.

Using a ground-breaking touch interface*, this app is highly recommended for secondary science students, and anyone interested in taking action on climate change.

For: Teachers, Secondary Science Students

Cost: $4.99 (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Yes

*Please note: This app downloads multimedia & chapter content in the background when opened for the first time, and it is recommended you wait for the lengthy (1GB+) download to complete before trying to interact with it.

Al Gore’s Our Choice Guided Tour from Push Pop Press on Vimeo.

Further Reading

Our Choice: Changing Books Forever (iApp.Storm)

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #21: Puppet Pals HD

Puppet Pals HD is a highly regarded animation / storytelling app for iPad, which is suitable for K-10 students, and has a variety of educational applications.

To use Puppet Pals, students select characters, settings, and a title; and then narrate a story while animating the characters and props using their fingers. You can create your own backdrops and characters using pictures from your Camera Roll, and export the finished video files to iMovie, YouTube, etc.

The app itself is free, but we highly recommend purchasing the Director’s Pass (about $3 via in-app purchase), which allows you to download and use a wider choice of characters and backdrops, including any future content. 

For: Students (Early Childhood – Secondary), English Language Learners

Cost: Free, but (recommended) Director’s Pass costs $2.99.

Dec 2012 Release – Puppet Pals 2 – $5.49 (Introductory Price)

Requires WiFi?: No.

Educational Applications

  • Create short instructional videos (in different learning areas)
  • Storytelling, News Reports, Historic Retells
  • Help reluctant public speakers present to the class
  • Help ESL students practice their fluency & language skills
  • Check out this website for some great literacy ideas!

Classroom Examples

Further Reading