Friday 6 February 2015

There's An App For That.

There is much debate as to whether schools should spend large amounts of money on buying iPads. Some schools have 1:1 devices while others have very few devices at all. This post is not about making the case for iPads in school, rather it is written with the intention of providing some hopefully useful ideas. 

Having used iPads in the school where I teach for a couple of years now, I have been able to experiment with a range of apps. My aim has always been to use iPads in order to complete tasks that could not be done without them rather than copying a task that could be done with pen/pencil and paper.

A comment made by a presenter at the Google stand at BETT recently made me reflect on the apps we use in school. He said that rather than looking for a Science app or a Geography app, we should look for apps that can be used across many subject disciplines. To me this makes sense for at least two reasons. 

First of all from a purely financial point of view. You would buy one app that can serve many purposes instead of a whole myriad of subject-related apps that may only be used within that subject. Secondly, subject-related apps tend to tend us and children into 'consumers' of technology rather gazn really using it to enhance learning and achieve what I stated earlier was my aim. Having said this, there are some very useful 'consumer' apps such as Battle Times - a free times table app. Times tables are probably best learnt through regular practise and testing. This app enables you to do this with a competitive element. Indeed the are also certain subject specialist apps that can be used to enhance learning effectively.

Going back to my aim, I have put together what I think would be an ideal gathering of a few apps that could help to enhance learning across the curriculum and allow our pupils to complete tasks that, if used thoughtfully, could not be done without such technology. My collection is by no means exhaustive but will hopefully be useful to those starting out on the iPad journey. 

I must note hear that all the apps below are apps that have been recommended to me by people such as Lee Parkinson (@ictmrp) and Mark Anderson (@ictevangelist) both of whom write excellent blog posts about using technology to enhance learning. Here are five apps I have found very useful.

1. Explain Everything - A superb app that is very versatile. It is a bit like having an interactive whiteboard on your device. Many, many used across all subjects.

2. Book Creator - Can be used to create books incorporating sound, images and video. Books can be added to iBook store. Very easy to use.

3. Comic Life - Creates eye-catching comic style documents. Can be used ina variety of ways in many subjects e.g presenting research of key historical figures. 

4. Minecraft - This app has so many uses it is impossible to list them all here. It also taps into children's interests as many play it at home anyway.

5. Tellagami  and iMovie - These are both brilliant film-making tools. Free version of Tellagami only allows 30 second recording so iMovie can be used to collect a few of these together which can them be edited into a film.

If you have these apps on your iPads at school you will certainly be able to make a start on your journey into iPad use.

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