Create vs. Consume
Choosing apps for school iPads can be a transformational task that might encourage discussion on learning goals and school missions. There are many great apps available but there are a few things to consider.
Begin by clarifying your vision for the use of the devices. What are your objectives and goals, the ‘why’. Look at apps that help you meet those goals.
For example, the ‘Pines to Vines’ is about the forest biome. However, any demonstration of understanding of the information would have to be done beyond the app. How about using free online sources and print materials to gather information, a makerspace to design a forest observation tower and invest your funds in a creating app such as Explain Everything for students to document and explain their learning. Then use that same limitless app for any number of projects and content areas. Early Numeracy skills can also be developed using the creative apps.
Here’s a few popular apps for creating and sharing ideas: Book Creator, Croak.it!, Haiku Deck, Hello Crayon, iMovie, Keynote, Minecraft, Poppet, Prezi, QR Code Reader, Stop Motion Studio, Lego Movie Maker, Tellagami, Toontastic, Visualize, Voice Record Pro, Puppet Pals, Skitch, Comic Life, Show Me, Doink Green Screen, Superimpose, Draw and Tell, the list goes on…
Consider the size of the app. Many schools use 16GB iPads but at least 3GB of that will be the iOS default apps. The Photo app will fill up with videos quickly so encourage students to discard their ‘Digital Litter’. Tip: iMovie will have to be uninstalled and then reinstalled to delete the movie cache, even after the video has been deleted from the camera roll.
Is the app able to be used by a wide range of ages and abilities? Although in varying degrees of detail, many apps that allow students to create can be utilized in a variety of grades, or can be app smashed* to extend the learning. (* AppSmashing is to create in one app, then export to another and add more detail. For example to draw in Doodle Buddy and import the result into PicCollage to add text.
There are lots of great free apps but be selective. Free apps are often rife with advertising and teaching students not to touch on the advertising might seem to be tricky…but it’s not if it’s a good app. Once the kids figure out that they only get directed to the App Store and that they can’t buy anything once there, they quickly loose interest in the ads. If the project they are creating is engaging their interest, the ads are usually a non-issue.
And don’t forget coding apps. New beginner coder apps are popping up frequently such as Bee-Bot, Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch, Kodable, Lightbot, Scratch.
Will you need a blogging platform? Student portfolio apps, FreshGrade, Dropbox. Will you use Google Classroom, Sheets, Slides and Docs? How about Skype and Twitter?