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 #16:Creating and sharing learning online

One of the ways to create interactive online experiences is to use a learning management system (LMS). This is much easier than you think and is a great way to use mobile learning devices in daily classroom practice. These systems now incorporate social networking so students can create and share their learning as part of professional learning networks. There are a range of these, today I am discussing two free LMS systems designed for classroom use. Edmodo and Schoology.  I am seeing excellent use of  these systems in classrooms. Teachers can post tasks and assessments online in the password protected space they have created for their students. They can give parents access to sections of the site so parents can view the work. Students can access this work anywhere, anytime on a web enabled device. There are apps for Android and IOS devices like iphones and iPads. Students can post their responses to their teacher and work collaboratively with their peers. The facility to set up groups is very useful. The student work is all safely stored online, no need for complex server configurations.


This video link guides you through how to set up a site in Schoology. Schoology has advanced features to set up test and assessments with self marking features.


The Edmodo help site with very useful tips on everything you need to get this up and running in your classroom.

This post gives more details on how to use Edmodo in education

This post on edmodo gives lots of links to schools and blog sites with practical examples of edmodo in action
This video shows how a 5th grade student uses Edmodo

Please post a comment and share how you are using these tools in your teaching and learning

Edmodo touch app also available for android devices

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 Professional Learning #10: Explore ECU with iPads

Welcome to the Clontarf Girls

For the Explore ECU Program today we welcomed the year 10 & 11 Clontarf Girls to spend a day experiencing University life with us on campus. We are going to be using technology in a fun way in to support learning.

Clontarf was one of the schools in Perth that the Queen visited when she was in Australia see the pictures on their website. Clontarf is a unique sporting academy with a specialist curriculum to develop the leadership skills of Aboriginal girls.

We had lots of fun – watch this space …

Clontarf girls become movie producers at ECU

I was very fortunate to work with this delightful group of enthusiastic fun loving students. For many of the group it was the first time they experienced using an iPad. There was much laughter and excitement as they became movie directors for the day. We discussed creative ways of using mobile learning tools like phones and tablet computers for learning.

“Focus, action, shoot, let the camera roll”

For some more details on this event, click here.

We are celebrating NAIDOC Week at our university. NAIDOC Week celebrations are held in Australia in July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by all Australians. At Edith Cowan University we participated in a range of activities and to support our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #61: Solar Walk

Solar Walk is a stunning 3D Solar System model for iPhone / iPad (and now Mac), from the makers of Star Walk. It enables users to explore (fly though) a scale model of the solar system, exploring the planets, moons, satellites, etc.

The app also includes in-depth information and short educational videos about each planet, and can be viewed with 3D glasses – on the iPad or 3DTV. For more details, we highly recommend reading the official User Guide, available here.

Highly recommended by educators worldwide.

For: Teachers, Students (Primary and Secondary)

Cost: $2.99 AUD (Download)

Requires WiFi?: Not for general use

Educational Applications

  • Any studies relating to Astronomy / Science / Space

Further Reading

Tips2012: Teachers’ Voices #3: Phil`s i-Story

Using iPads to teach English as a second language

Phil Rice is a teacher of adult ESL learners in the state of Delaware, USA. He has taught English Composition and multiple levels of ESL classes. He enjoys using technology to teach and help students to teach themselves. Phil is an avid user of iPads in his ESL classes, and he has shared some of the activities he uses in his teaching
Show me

Show Me

 Phil sent in this i-Story in response to a posting we did on using the Show Me screen casting app to read that post Tips2012 App Guide: Show Me. The Show Me app was also used for ESL teaching  in Schools in India as mentioned in Jude`s i-Story.
With ShowMe, teachers can…

1) Create an online lesson for an in-class topic. Record the main ideas of your lesson and give students a link or post your creation to an online social media site.

2) Have students create a narrated visual presentation on a topic using your/their iPad and show it in class as opposed to a “stand in front of the class” type presentation.

3) Create a Vocab Map using Skitch / DoodleBuddy and ShowMe together. Pick a picture that is related to a topic you are teaching and annotate it with Skitch showing the vocabulary for the picture. Then, upload the photo and use it on ShowMe to narrate and pronounce the vocab.

4) Download the presentation and upload it to YouTube so students have instant access to your ShowMes!

These are just a few uses for ShowMe. I use it all the time, and I’m sure that you will too once you get used to it.

Thanks Phil for sharing your i-Story.

You can visit Phil`s blog, ESL Commando, to find more ideas for using ICT in ESL classes.

Tips2012: i-Kids make a difference:#1:Jude`s i-Story


Jude the “Living Statue”:  A boy who makes a difference…. 


This inspiring i-Story started with some emails in response to the TIPS2012 blog. Jude and his mum Tania asked questions about using iPads in schools in India and how to cope in settings with no WiFi network.

I directed them to the resources on the blog, and a while later received this email…

Dear Jenny, …

Thank you all so much for supporting Jude “The Living Statue” in raising money for an iPad for an Indian school. He raised a total £220 – which is quite amazing and inspiring, especially as it was all his own idea to do this.

The iPad caused huge amount of excitement and the children kept looking at their fingers  when they were drawing/writing on the iPad, as they couldn’t understand why there wasn’t ink on them!  

Here are some photos of Jude showing the kids at the school how an iPad works.

Jude showing the children in India how to use the iPad

We spent hours at a rather nice hotel in the local town, using their free wifi to download some educational apps.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and Australian Dr Jenny Lane of iPad project in schools, we found some fantastic apps that can be used without wifi.  Especially good were the animations and puppet shows with self recorded narration, which are great for story telling, imagination and those not confident in speaking English – plus they are lots of fun.

Thank you all again for your support…

Tania & Jude

Tania, Jude`s mother comments “I am amazed he had so much courage to stand on Ledbury Road, which is quite a busy street in Notting Hill.  I am very proud of him and very happy for you to include on your blog – which was so helpful for us.”

Living Statutes

“Living Statues” are people who dress up like a statue and stand motionless on the street, usually on a pedestal.  They are usually painted from head to toe – white, bronze or gold, etc. and will only move, or shake your hand etc when you give them some money.
Jude (Millais) is the great-great-great grandson of the painter John Everett Millais (


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 #33: ShowMe

Screen-casting is capturing what is on the screen of your iPad and adding a narration or music sound track. You can capture a drawing showing how the picture develops. This works well in teaching mathematics where the teacher can demonstrate the calculation as if they are working on an interactive whiteboard. The whole process gets recorded and can then be shared and replayed.

Show Me is a simple screen-casting app suitable for early childhood through to early secondary students. It provides a whiteboard, pens, eraser, and support for importing images.This app is extremely user-friendly; simply “Tap to record, and start talking”.

Completed screencasts are uploaded to the ShowMe website, where they can be shared (for free) with a unique weblink, and embedded into class blogs or webpages. The ShowMe website features a community collection of screencasts for all learning areas, which teachers can use in their classes for free.

More advanced screen-casting apps include Educreations, Screen Chomp, and Explain Everything.

For: Students (Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary)

Cost: Free (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Yes, to upload finished products. It is not possible to save completed work to the iPad.

Management Tip

To use this app in class, teachers recommend creating a shared class / teacher ShowMe account, and establishing a standard naming convention (using students’ names) to identify student work. (Tip via EdTechTeacher Tip & @nate_kremer)

Educational Applications

  • Create a repository of video lessons 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.
  • Click here for more ideas

Further Reading

Have you taken part in our survey? Click here and enter the draw to win a $ 50 iTunes voucher!

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #25: Strip Designer

Strip Designer is a comic-strip creation app for the iPad which transforms your own photos (or Creative Commons Internet images) into comic-book style images through the use of strip styles, speech bubbles, stickers, and frames. Finished products can be saved to the iPad photo library, emailed, or shared on Flickr and other social networks.

For: Teachers, Students (Grades 6-12)

Cost: $2.99 (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: No

Educational Applications

  • Create time-lines for historical events
  • Multimedia storytelling, novel study
  • Present research findings, or ideas  in comic-strip format
  • Showcase student photography
  • For more ideas and resources, please see the links at the end of our Comic Life post.

Further Reading

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #24: iBooks

The iBooks iPad app is so much more than a glossy bookcase. It is a place where you can share ePub e-books, PDF files, and student (and teacher) created resources; enabling users to curate & create a library of digital reading material on their iPad.

For: Teachers, Students, Administrators

Cost: Free

Requires WiFi?: No for reading. Yes for uploading and sharing content

Educational Applications

  • Share student work (in PDF or ePub format) with parents and classmates as digital portfolios or yearbooks
  • Use the Book Creator app, or iBooks Author (Mac), to create collaborative class books and teaching resources
  • Store levelled readers (e.g. for use in reading centres
  • Use the built-in highlighter and sticknotes to practice reading comprehension skills
  • Share digital textbooks (requires iTunes 10.5.3 or later)

Teacher Tips: How do I add material to iBooks?

To add PDF and ePub materials to iBooks on your iPad, you can import files via iTunes, import from Dropbox or GoodReader, or save files directly from Safari. It is possible to save and share students’ work in ePub format from other applications, such as Pages for Mac.

You can purchase quality eBooks from the Apple iBooks Store, or find free eBooks on Google, which may be a better option for educators.

Teachers may also like the dotePUB browser bookmarklet (available for Safari), which enables users to save ANY website as an ePub file, which can be added to iBooks via iTunes. (Tip via iPads@Burley).

Recommended Reading

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

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #20: Comic Life

Comics and cartoons have a HUGE range of educational applications across the primary and secondary curriculum, and can be easily integrated into a range of subject or topic areas.

Comic Life for iPad is an easy-to-use comic / cartoon creation app for students from Grades 1-12. It provides a range of templates, and enables users to import pictures (from their Camera Roll, or Creative Commons sources on the Internet), captions, and special effects (thought balloons, onomatopoeia).

This app mirrors the Windows / Mac version of Comic LIfe, and allows users to print, email, or share their comics on Facebook. Comic Life for iPad also features an “in-tray” option, which allows users to share comics with other iPad users nearby).

For: Teachers, Students (Grades 1-12)

Cost: $5.49 (Download Link)

Requires WiFi: No (only for sharing comics)

Comic Life Tutorial for iPad from Jessica Pack on Vimeo.

Educational Applications

  • Social Studies – Timelines, history retells
  • Literacy – instructions, grammar practices, story retells, information brochures
  • Science- instructions, reports on learning, explanations of concepts
  • Cartoon Tutorials for students and teachers (e.g. The Daring Librarian)
  • Food Technology – illustrated cookbooks
  • Inspiring Examples from Porchester Junior School (UK)
  • Click here for more ideas, or check out the links below!

Tutorials and Lesson Ideas

Recommended Reading

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #18: GoodReader

GoodReader is a good file management app. You can use it to save, organise, and read PDF files, MS Office & Apple iWork documents, Pages, Keynote, Numbers), images, webpages, audio, and video → all in one application on your iPad. You can then project these files on your IWB using the VGA connect kit (approx $30).

GoodReader can handle files in excess of 1GB, and allows users to easily transfer files via USB (here’s how), internal school WiFi networks, Internet, or email. It seamlessly integrates with Google Docs, Dropbox,, and WebDAV servers, and comes with built-in security options.

While setting up WiFi and school server connections can be a little technical, this app is highly recommended for iPad classrooms! It is a fantastic app for reducing paper-use in schools and classrooms – just make sure you read the User Manual first!

For: Students, Teachers

Cost: Around $5 (Download)

Requires WiFi?: Yes (for syncing)

Educational Applications

  • Annotate running records
  • complete observation surveys and  assessment checklists
  • Store important documents e.g. professional learning resources
  • Store and manage eBooks, textbooks, and worksheets
  • Annotate PDF files (note-taking)
  • Reduce paper use!

Further Reading

Tips2012 iPad App Guide #17: Numbers

Numbers for iPad is the Apple mobile version of Excel spreadsheet, enabling users to create and edit spreadsheets and data-entry forms (similar to Google Forms) on the iPad. This app will be useful for teachers and students, particularly in business and economics; but is probably best used for editing existing spreadsheets.

Files can be exported (via email) to Numbers for Mac, Microsoft Excel, or PDF; but can only be removed from the iPad via iTunes or WebDAV. SendToDropbox is useful too (via @samgliksman).

For: Teachers, Secondary Students, Administrators

Cost: $10.49AUD (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?:

Educational Applications

  • Business, Economics class
  • Financial Records
  • Data Entry Forms (eg. Attendence, surveys)


Numbers for iPad (Alternative Tutorial)
Creating Forms in Numbers on the iPad – Video