It’s hard to predict what apps will be developed in the future, but I can honestly say there are some great apps for education out there already that you really must put on your list to use with your class in 2017!
Finding apps for any platform isn’t a hard task. Finding educational apps is only a little more challenging. Finding good quality apps that actually enhance teaching and learning can be tricky. Here are my top 10 apps. I’ve gone for the creative, tool type apps that can be used over and again for many different areas of learning at many different stages.
1. Augmented Reality – Apple, Android and Windows
In a nutshell: A captivating way to enhance learning experiences.
So what is Augmented Reality? Literally it means enhanced reality. Every image, object and even place can have its own ‘trigger’ or ‘aura’, which is Aurasma’s term for an augmented reality experience!
Children are simply fascinated by augmented reality. I’ve taught using it all throughout all age phases and it never fails to spark their creative juices. With younger children I like starting by introducing Augmented Reality as a concept by free investigation of apps such as Quiver (Puteko Ltd), AR Flashcards-Animal Alphabet (Mitchlehan Media LLC), Butterfly Fingers (Useless Creations), Frog 3D (Trendyworks Technologies) or Dinosaurs Everywhere! A Jurassic Experience in any Park! (Useless Creations). These will not only help children to understand the concept of augmented reality but greatly enhances the relevant areas of the curriculum. The apps allow the children to examine, interrogate and closely observe parts of animals and plant, often using ‘triggers’ printed on paper, the downloaded app and the device camera.
There are many 3D/augmented apps for education out there for all ages and subject areas. One’s like Anatomy 4D (DAQRI), Heart AR (Bloc Digital) or Spacecraft 3D (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) are good examples for older children. There are others for the brain, muscles, eyes, cars, planes……. you name it. These apps allow the user to explore the body part/object in a way that is not otherwise possible.
Price: Many are free
2. Aurasma– Apple, Android and Windows
In a nutshell: A simple way for students to create Augmented Reality ‘Auras’.
It’s when the students have the opportunity to create their own ‘auras’ that augmented reality takes on real learning power. That’s where Aurasma comes in. After the Aurasma app is downloaded on all devices, you’ve created a generic class account and all have logged in using the same one, the students are ready to create a ‘trigger’ by snapping an image. This is a physical piece of paper/object. This could be of a piece of their own/others’ artwork, writing, a poster on display or school newsletter for example. A video or additional images giving further explanation/instruction for the ‘trigger’ is then recorded by the student s and then ‘overlayed’ on the ‘trigger’. Anyone can then open the video/extra images with the Aurasma app open on their device. Hey presto! A talking display! An interactive library! A poetry recital!
3. Tellagami – Apple
In a nutshell: A fun way of sharing messages in the classroom.
Tellagami is a fun, new way for students to share animated messages. They can customise their character, change their mood or outfit and even record their voice or add dialogue. The videos can be recorded and then shared – maybe on a class blog or wiki. There are so many ways you can integrate Tellagami into learning:
- Have the character tell a story
- Pick a person in history and let them introduce themselves
- Inset a picture in the background and get the character to explain
- Record poetry/a speech
- Use for MFL practice
4. PartySnapper by Boinx – Apple
In a nutshell: An effective way of sharing and celebrating student’s work.
This is a great way for teachers to share students’ images as they are working on them. Imagine it’s an art lesson and the students are using a paint app or a D & T lesson and the students are creating a 3D technical drawing. The teacher hosts a ‘party’ on the app and the students send images live to the teacher’s device. These images will then show up in a Photo Wall which can then be Airplayed via a projector to the whole class. Genius!
Price: Party Lite Mode – free for up to 10 images. Party Hard Mode – unlimited use £22.99
5. Scribeasy – Apple
In a nutshell: A creative writing stimulus.
One of the challenges of teaching creative writing can be just getting students to start a story. That’s when Scribeasy can be quite helpful as it provides students with visual prompts that can inspire the start of a story. It offers a fun environment in which students can write short stories. Students create stories on Scribeasy by first selecting a background image then dragging and dropping additional pictures onto their chosen background images. When students select objects to add to their backgrounds, a narrator reads the name of the object aloud. Students can move and resize all images to create a visual story in Scribeasy. They then write a story about the scenes they’ve created. The next step is where Scribeasy really comes into its own. It gives students a list of suggested words to use in their stories which helps some children to explore a wider range of vocabulary. When finished, students can save to the app, and the camera roll on their iPads.
6. Photomath – Camera Calculator – Apple, Google Play/Android
In a nutshell: A brilliant app that allows you to scan a problem to then give you the solution.
Okay, I have to admit, I was downloading this app with a few doubts. Thinking it could only go as far as simple multiplication, but I’ve been proved very wrong. I like it for certain activities. Unfortunately the free version doesn’t go as far as explaining how a calculation is solved, you have to pay extra for that. Another thing I would say is that only encourage your students to use this app when they are really stumped or alternatively, to check their work. Students could be tempted to become over-reliant on it!
So how does this work and support students in their learning? Simply point your camera toward a maths problem and Photomath will magically show the result with detailed step-by-step instructions.
Photomath provides: (free)
- Camera calculator
- Handwriting recognition (NEW)
- Step-by-step instructions
- Smart calculator
Use Photomath+ for more powerful features: (additional cost)
- Complete step-by-step instructions
- Colorful explanations
- Extra math knowledge
Photomath supports learning in maths for all ages including arithmetic, integers, fractions, decimal numbers, roots, algebraic expressions, linear equations/in equations, quadratic equations/in equations, absolute equations/in equations, systems of equations, logarithms, trigonometry, exponential and logarithmic functions and derivatives and integrals.
Price: Free with optional in-app purchases
7. Padlet – Apple, Chrome Web Store, Google Play/Android, Desktop
In a nutshell: A truly interactive collaboration tool.
Okay, Padlet Desktop (previously known as Wallwisher) has been around for some time now, but the apps are relatively new. Padlet enables the teacher to ‘hear the voice’ from all students. Basically it’s like a digital notice board where students attach sticky post-it notes to gather their thoughts and ideas together by typing text, linking to websites and more. Drag in a video, record an interview, snap a selfie, write your own text posts or upload some documents, and as if by magic, you have the input from a large group of students almost instantly. You can even choose custom wallpapers and themes to match the area of the curriculum you are working on.
A teacher can set permissions as to how they share it, who sees it, who can contribute and if they wish to moderate contributions before they are published.
The uses are endless. I always set up a Padlet before starting a new area of learning to find out how much the children know already. Plans can then be adjusted to suite and the students can return to the same Padlet at the end to contribute what they now know. What I then like to do is discuss similarities and differences in answers and move the ‘post-its’ around to group and classify. This is a great way to formatively assess value added learning. Here are some other ways you might find it useful:
- Story starter ideas
- Brainstorm synonyms
- Favourite poetry quotes
- Divide topic into areas of research. Students to add ideas in these groups. Everyone gets the benefit!
- Debate ‘loaded’ questions – e.g. global warming has no consequences. Group and classify answers
- Collecting feedback
- Photo collages
- Solo or group presentations
- Professional development – great to use for staff CPD/staff meetings
Price: Free with optional in-app purchases
8. Duolingo – Apple, Google Play/Android
In a nutshell: A fun and effective language learning app.
This is a fab app that just may be the greatest support for MFL for many learners. The Wall Street Journal say “Far and away the best language-learning app.” And it’s Apple’s iPhone App of the Year!
You can learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English. Totally fun. Totally free. Duolingo teaches languages with a mix of listening, reading, writing, with the option for speaking. You can select your level and how many minutes per day you wish to spend. You work to earn points and badges as you pass through the levels. The sentences are a mix of common vocabulary and silly combinations. This prepares students for using the language as well as making sure they really understand what they’re saying.
I would use Duolingoas as a supplement in my classroom. If, like most classes, you have students at many different levels, then this is a good extension activity. If they finish an assigned activity or they need further consolidation, they can use Duolingo.
9. Quizlet – Apple, Google Play /Android
In a nutshell: Flashcard and language app to study and learn.
This is a good all-around solid app, if you’re looking for a quick and clean flashcard/quizzing app then this is it. Simple quick wins. That’s what most teachers are looking for when it comes to using technology in the classroom. Quizlet is a simplistic app that takes seconds to get to grips with. It enables children and teachers to create digital ‘study sets’ or ‘flash cards’. You simply type in your questions or ‘Terms’ and your answers or ‘Definitions’. You can then:
- Put your memory to the test with Learn
- Race against the clock in a game of Match
- Share flashcards with classmates (if you’re a student) or your students (if you’re a teacher)
- Listen to automatic pronunciations in 18 languages to make studying foreign languages a breeze
- Enhance your studying with images and audio
These resources can then be engaged with and shared in a number of ways. It’s so easy to use with students working at all levels. It can be embedded in to the classroom in a number of ways:
- Revision resources
- Sharing revision resources
- Differentiation resources
- Plenary activities
- Ongoing assessment
- Specific provision
- Language learning
- Free learning resources
10. Green Screen by Do Ink – Apple
(Similar to Green Screen by Graphite – Google Play/Android)
In a nutshell: An app for creating exciting movies layered on fantasy backgrounds.
Green Screen by Do Ink makes it easy to create incredible green screen videos and images right on your iPad or iPhone. So what is Green Screen exactly? Well, think of weather presenters on TV. They stand in front of dynamic interactive maps pointing out sunshine and showers, but in reality, the physical area that they are pointing to is in fact just a green screen/drape/piece of cloth. This creates a virtual background. Through the magic of video effects and technology, you can superimpose people/objects onto virtual backgrounds, place them over animated digital backdrops or even transport them to a space city somewhere in the Cosmos. You can shrink down a full-grown elephant so it can stand on a tabletop, use visual effects to make him fly through the sky or simply simulate your own TV news report. All you need is a blue or green screen (this could be a covered display board) for your students to stand for the ‘lights, camera, action’ bit, point the iPad at them and start recording.
The app lets you combine photos and videos from the camera roll with live images from your iPad or iPhone’s camera. Featured in “Best New Apps in Education” in iTunes and classroom-tested by kids and teachers, this app emphasises ease-of-use and simplicity while still enabling you to get fantastic results. With Green Screen by Do Ink, you can tell a story, explain an idea, and express yourself in truly creative and unique ways e.g.:
- Any type of report on nearly any topic
- Mock court case investigating perspective
- Historical court cases
- Book character trait “interviews”
- Video blogging
- Text-based evidence responses
- Math thinking explanations
- Math student-created story problems
- Math survey and data collection