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 #62: Solar System

Published by the same company as The Elements, The Solar System for iPad is a stunning eBook exploration of space, astronomy, and exploration.

Complete with interactive scenes, 3D objects, videos, animations, scientific data, and stunning NASA imagery, the Solar System app takes readers on a grand tour of the solar system and our cosmic backyard.

While it justly deserves its stellar reputation as an amazing iPad app, be warned – it is a near 850MB download!

For: Teachers, Students (Primary – Secondary)

Cost: $14.99 AUD (Download)

Requires WiFi?: Not for general use

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

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 #55: eScience Magazine

The eScience Magazine is a new, free quarterly iPad magazine published by the Adelaide University. Written by researchers, it is a fantastic resource for secondary science teachers – exploring the “10 Big Questions in Science”.

The magazine includes feature articles from researchers, touch-interactive content, teaching resources, and links to useful science resources and information.

It is also available as an online magazine – read the April 2012 issue here.

For: Secondary Science Teachers & Students

Cost: Free (Download)

Requires WiFi?: Yes, to download content. (Please note – the launch magazine was a 300MB download)

Tips 2012 iPad App Guide #51: Star Walk

A truly stunning iPad app, Star Walk provides an augmented reality view of the night sky above. Point your iPad camera at the sky, and it will match (and identify) the constellations and star formations above. You can search for visible planets, track satellites overhead, and explore what the night sky would look like in the past and present.

This app provides an incredible, immersive stargazing experience – with no Internet connection required! You can even display the star maps on your HD TV via a VGA adapter.

For more information, please read the official User Guide.

For: Teachers, Students (Middle Primary – Secondary)

Cost: $5.49 for iPad version (Download Link). There is a separate version for iPhone.

Requires WiFi?: Not for general use.

Educational Applications

  • Any science / astronomical study of the night sky.

Tips2012: iPad App Guide #39: iTunes U

The iTunes U app gives teachers and students access to 500 000+ educational resources, including videos, course materials, and podcasts. Originally created to share content from top universities and colleges, such as Harvard, Cambridge, and Stanford, iTunes U was recently opened up to K-12 schools and educators.

This app allows teachers to integrate iTunes U learning materials into their subject areas, and even create their own learning area courses – including podcasts, quizzes, lessons, etc, and share them with the world.

We highly recommend teachers explore the possibilities of this free app, and discover what teaching materials are available for their learning areas, and year levels. There is currently a great deal of material suitable for secondary classes, and a growing body of materials for primary year levels.

For: Teachers, Students (K-12)

Cost: Free (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Yes.

Educational Applications

  • Find video tutorials, podcasts, and learning materials for all learning areas, particularly in secondary subjects (maths, science, foreign languages)
  • Access professional development resources for teachers

Please share your ideas for integrating  iTunes U content into your classroom in the comments below!

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 #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 #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 #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 #31: Wikipanion

Wikipanion is a simple, easy to use app for navigating Wikipedia on the iPad (without the need to launch Safari). It provides easy search and bookmarking functions, and offers the option to save images directly to the iPad. It comes with the built-in WikiDictionary for easy reference.

For: Teachers, Students, Administrators

Cost: Free (Download Link)

Requires WiFi?: Yes

Educational Applications

  • Support general research / Inquiry