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

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #54: Wunderlist HD

Wunderlist HD s a free ‘To-Do List” which synchronises your tasks / lists across all your devices – iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and your web browser. It is a great personal organisation tool. Requires a free user account.

For more information about how it works, please visit the official site.

For: Teachers, Students (Upper Primary – Secondary), Administrators

Cost: Free (Download)

Requires WiFI?: Yes

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.

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


Tips2012 iPad App Guide #46: TeacherKit

TeacherKit, formerly known as TeacherPal is a simple, free iPhone/iPad app for recording student attendance, behaviour, and grades across multiple grades.

Teachers can simply set up student profiles, including photos and relevant personal information (e.g. allergies, parent contact details), and import/export student assessment data (in Excel .csv format) via Dropbox.

With over 500 000+ downloads, and ranked in Apple’s Top 10 Educational Apps, TeacherPal is well worth experimenting with before purchasing paid alternatives.

For more information, we recommend the official website:

For: Teachers (K-12)

Cost: Free (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Not for everyday use, but required to sync to DropBox.


Tips2012 iPad App Guide #41: LiveBinders

Livebinders is a web application which makes it easy for teachers to curate and organise their favourite online education resources (and uploaded PDF / Word documents) in virtual 3 ringed binders, which can then be shared on virtual ‘shelves’ – accessible for free – anywhere, anytime.

The Livebinders iPad app enables users to view and edit their livebinders on their iPads using their Safari web browser. And as an added benefit, the Livebinders website hosts a public library of shared binders covering a wide range of learning areas and topics. These collections are an ideal resource for busy teachers.

For: Teachers, Administrators

Cost: Free (Download Link). Requires iOS 5.0.1 or later.

Requires WiFi?: Yes

Educational Applications

Collate professional learning and educational resources by topics of interest, eg.:

Create convenient places for students to find important information during & outside of school (eg. homework assignments, helpful research resources, etc.

Further Reading


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 #32: Skitch

Skitch makes it easy to draw, capture and annotate screenshots on the iPad – taken from your iPad camera, web pages, photo roll, or Google Map. Skitch makes it easy to explain something, give instructions, or communicate ideas using images. (See Skitch for iPad)

Skitch is integrated with Evernote, and saved images can also be shared via AirPlay, email, twitter, or saved directly to the iPad photo roll. There is a Mac desktop apllication too.

For: Teachers, Students (Middle Primary – Secondary)

Cost: Free (Download Link)

Requires WiFi: No.

Educational Applications

  • Annotate instructions, maps, screenshots for blog posts, classroom displays
  • Document and explain learning experiences e.g. Science experiments.

Further Reading

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #30: Instapaper

Instapaper is a must-have iPad app which enables users to bookmark and save web articles, blog posts, tweets, other app content, news, etc for offline viewing later; in class, on the train, … literally anywhere.

Installed as a Safari bookmarklet, Instapaper is simple to use, and allows users to easily sync articles across their mobile devices and web browsers (on their home computers) via their Instapaper account (requires an email address). You can also share articles to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Evernote.

For: Teachers, Students (Primary, Secondary), Administrators

Cost: $5.49 (Download Link)

Requires WiFi: No for reading , yes for bookmarking and syncing

Educational Applications

  • Professional reading
  • Store research articles for easy access
  • Present web articles in a clean, easy-to-read format for focused reading.

Feeling lucky, click on this link and help in this research by completing a short survey you could be the winner of an I- tunes voucher.

Tips2012:iPad App Guide #29: HD

The HD app brings a trusted (ad-free) dictionary and thesaurus, containing nearly 2 million words, definitions, synonyms, and antonymns, to the iPad. This invaluable reference resource is available offline, with some additional features, such as voice-to-text search and audio pronunciation, available with a Wi-Fi connection.

This paid version of the app is ad-free, and is highly recommended for educational use. There are separate versions for iTouch and iPhone.

For: Administrators. Teachers, Students, Students with Special Needs

Cost: $4.99 (Download Link).

Requires WiFi: Only for additional features.

  • Support students in literacy activities, particularly for finding the spelling and meaning of words
  • Learn the pronunciation of words – valuable for special needs students

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 #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 #22: “Toddler Sandbox”

Toddler Sandbox, formerly  known as “Wipe and Learn”, is an early-learning iPad app for K-2 children, which is also highly recommended for children with special needs.

“Sandbox” involves children swiping their finger across the screen to reveal a hidden picture. The word for the background picture is then spoken aloud. It requires close attention, accuracy and fine motor skills to complete successfully, making it a useful app for developing fine motor skills and word recognition.

For: Early Childhood Students, Students with Special Needs

Cost: $0.99 (Download)

Requires WiFi?: No.

Further 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