There are a multitude of apps that could make this list and schools may wish to consider adding to the portfolio without overloading the users. It is interesting how ‘top’ apps are usually generic in nature and that they allow teachers and students to be creative with their use. Of course there will always be subject specific apps that enhance learning. However, initial app deployment should be based on scarcity and familiarity to help teachers, parents and students cope with all this new information. As a benchmark, more than twenty apps is overwhelming and not recommended.
This list of recommended apps changes less often than you’d think and most of them are free!
Simply the most versatile education app available. Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard and screen-casting tool that suits the needs of teachers and students alike. The app allows you to animate, annotate and narrate presentations and explanations to your audience. It is widely used to record plenaries and provide audio feedback. It is also the app of choice for students when they are required to provide more than written material. The key to its success can found in its intuitive interface and export options. A ‘must have’ app in education.
Socrative is a very simple and effective assessment tool that can be used during any part of the learning process. A teacher can pose questions to a group which they answer on their device with the information directly relayed back to the host. It is available as long as there is an Internet connection. The most common use for Socrative is as an ‘exit ticket’ for a lesson. Students answer four or five questions at the end of a lesson so the teacher has feedback to base the next lesson on. All data is sent directly to the teacher’s email account as soon as they end the quiz. Very useful for planning.
iMovie has always been a favourite with students, but it is interesting to see how it has developed as an educational tool. As well as an obvious movie creation and editing app, iMovie provides a platform to express learning. The ‘trailer’ option guides students to capture snapshots to show learning as well as to input text to frame their ideas. These trailers then serve as interesting starter videos or revision tools. iMovie projects take over where a student or teacher may want to add greater depth.
iTunes U is often referred to as a learning platform. iTunes U courses provide the framework and resources so teachers can get on with what they do best. Removing the need for photocopying, Internet searching and distribution, iTunes U supports a culture of creation and collaboration. The value of having access to everything required on one device can’t be underestimated and its popularity is growing by the day. Add to this the ability to update any resource and make it available to all at the tap of a screen and you have a very powerful learning platform.
Showbie allows you to assign, collect and review student work. As a tool it meets a demand that used to be supplied by a school VLE. The difference here is the ability to ‘open in’ a multitude of apps to create content or provide feedback. A couple of taps sees a student assignment opened and annotated with audio feedback or viewed in the teacher’s app of choice. It is then just as simple to return the assignment to the student for immediate viewing. Showbie works very well with larger classes where the transfer of information is frequent.
Edmodo fulfils the need for a collaboration and communication tool within the school environment. The secure site is suitable as nobody can gain access to a group without the unique code. Many students use Edmodo to question their peers over challenging questions and as a platform to collaborate on projects. It is interesting to see how groups communicate under the tutelage of a teacher. Edmodo is also used as a tool to model good practice on the Internet. For many students it is their first interaction with social media in a controlled environment and Edmodo has proved a very useful component of many eSafety programmes.
As a note taking app, Notability stands out from the crowd. With all the tools available to record information, Notability is a real favourite with students. The most common use can be seen as students take a picture of a resource or experiment and then jot down information to highlight key terms. The export functions within Notability also make it suitable for students as they develop their digital portfolios.
Keynote is the presentation tool of choice for students, particularly when faced with a class or school presentation. Students are very positive about the ease with which they can convey a message using multimedia. There is distinct attention paid to the use of transitions to emphasise a point and interestingly an engagement with the requirements of the future world of work. Students often equate job applications and progress with presentations so using Keynote to express learning is very desirable. Ask a student to convey something that they have learned, and it is likely to be Keynote they turn to first.
From simple projects to a school term’s worth of learning, Book Creator has become a handy vessel for curation and creation. With the ability to add video to explanations as well as ‘widget’ type effects, students of all ages enjoy using Book Creator. It deserves its inclusion due to the ease with which all tools can be used and the wide range of export functions available. Stand-alone projects are ably supported by Book Creator as it acts as a working portfolio to document the learning process.
Pages is simply a ‘go to’ app of choice when students are asked to produce a piece of written work, as it has been the iPad’s Word-equivalent for years. There are further layers to the app though that enhance the learning process. Firstly, the templates remove the need to spend time over layout and formatting. When the task requires a student to convey their learning, time is no longer wasted on making the document look good. Secondly, the multimedia aspect of Pages elevates it as a document creator. As well as the written word, students submit photos and video to support their views, all professionally laid out.