There’s an app for that!

Posted on 5 August 2010 Thursday

Between just getting an iPhone and iTouches becoming more available to schools in my district, I’ve been playing around with apps. I think most apps evolve from web based services and many are developed specifically for classroom use. I’ve been scouring several sources to find the utlimate apps to recommend here. I hope to stimulate an interest in using this technology in your classroom, this brief overview doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s available.

Sometimes it feels like we’re doing this technology stuff to appease students, to hook them into learning by entering their world. But I recently had this revelation that when teachers master the technology, it becomes part of our world. The only way I see to master it is to use it in your real, everyday life. Like with these apps. The best way to get comfortable with iPhones or pads or pods or touches or iwhatever is to first use the apps you like.

My favorite apps are games. I almost hate to tell you what games I like, because I will sound as boring as dirt, but here they are anyway.

Before I go on: please feel free to suggest more apps in the comments!

I love Unblock Me, Whirly Word and Words Free which I play with friends. The games are great to build vocabulary and improve cognitive skills while just having fun. Games like Eat This Not That are great for reading, decision making and health and nutrition.

All the apps I mention are free. If I ever buy an app, it will be truly awesome.

I have Google Earth, but don’t use it much. I use my map app that came on the phone for locations. I just put the Kremlin in and got its location mapped in Moscow. I’m surprised there’s no photo. I really like Local Books as it gives me the location of bookstores, museums and libraries near me as well as events at each of these venues.

Using these make me comfortable using the device, help me know how to trouble shoot and discover short cuts. Check this out: if I have something on my iphone screen that I want to save, I press the ‘home’ button and the power button at the same time, it then saves an image to my photos.

I found a free whiteboard app which turns my iphone into a whiteboard. It’s supposed to be able to link to other devices to share information, but I haven’t done much with that during the summer. I downloaded a pdf app so that I can open pdf files on the phone and I added a translation app. These productivity apps can have great implications in the classroom. Instead of investing in ‘clickers’ it would make more sense to use iSurvey (or even Google Forms if you’re working on netbooks).

I really like the suggestions for apps in this post. However, instead of World Wiki I would suggest World Countries All in One because it incorporates World Wiki and World Country Facts. This is a heavy download, so be patient!

I really like the iFormula and Graphing Calculator apps which you can get a nice overview of here.  Other items really depend upon what content area you’re specializing in. Some of the apps I’ve looked at on iTunes and really like include
History Maps of the World
GRE Vocab of the Day (that one is for me!)
Spanish Word of the Day (that is for Ari)
Library of Congress Virtual Tour
Nasa App

Have fun with it. Use the search feature on your device or visit iTunes to find some apps [Do note there are separate apps for the various Apple devices] . Then take the time to master one app and find meaningful ways to integrate it into your classroom. Challenge your students to find apps that help them learn what you’re teaching. Remember, 21st century learning is all about empowerment! I hope you’re feeling empowered!