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.

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

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #53: Confer

Confer is an assessment and reporting app which enables teachers to organise and track notes and observations of individuals, and small groups of students. It is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

At its heart, Confer is a classroom note-taking app – with powerful features to sort and search notes by ‘tag’, ‘strength’, ‘teaching point’, or ‘next step’.

Assessment indicators, and class lists (etc) can be imported into the app (a significant time-saving), and records of student observations can be exported via email / spreadsheet / Word documents. There are plans to include a “photo import” option in future releases, which will benefit early childhood teachers.

Despite its expense and somewhat complicated initial set-up, Confer has enormous potential to become a valuable, time-saving app for K-12 teachers. We would; however, recommend trialing the free Lite Version and exploring the comprehensive user’s guide prior to purchase.

For: Teachers (K-12)

Cost: Lite Version – Free (Download) , Full Version – $15.99AUD (Download)

Requires WiFi?: Not for ordinary use, but required for data export.