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 #9:Celebration of learning

I spent today enjoying a celebration of learning with Sarah and the fabulous teachers at Settlers School. It is always great to share ideas about teaching and learning with the teachers in the DET iPad Project.

It was such an inspiration to listen to Year 1 students confidently explaining to teachers and principals how they use apps to structure their story writing. These students were clearly enjoying their learning. One teacher commented ” when they are using the iPads the students are so motivated – they never get bored”.

I loved the use of peer tutors, where students who feel confident volunteer to help other students in the class. Using the iPads to record and review their own reading, the students did self assessments using a rubric to rate their progress.

The ShowMe screencasting app was used for number work. The students recorded their thinking processes and computations while solving number problems. They then projected their “show me” screencast on to the whiteboard and shared their strategies with the class. The tasks catered for students learning needs by providing a range of activities with students working at their ability level.

Well done to all the teachers and students for sharing such exciting work, and to Sarah and the team leaders for setting such a great example of transformative teaching.

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

(Reference)

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 #10: Socrative

Socrative is marketed as a “student engagment” and “instant assessment” e-clicker device which runs off ANY web browser (on your laptop, smartphone, iPod, iPad, etc).

It enables teachers to quickly and easily set up short multiple choice / short-answer / quiz assessment activities, which students respond to using their own devices. Student responses are collated, and displayed on the classroom screen or emailed to the teacher.

According to educational research by deJong and Lane et.al (2009), many students and teachers find “clickers” extremely engaging, so Socrative may well be worth experimenting with (depending on your preferred teaching approach). It is a cheaper alternative to traditional (hardware) clicker response systems.

For: Students, Teachers (in 1:1 or BYOD classrooms), University Lecturers

Cost: Currently Free (Requires Teacher Registration)

Download: Teacher Version    Student Version

Requires Wi-Fi: Yes

Socrative introduction video  from Socrative Inc. on Vimeo.

Educational Applications

  • Instant assessment / feedback
  • Polling in Class, Lectures, Conference presentations

Recommended Reading