App-solutely Fabulous, Darling!

Listen to any teacher using iPads for any great length of time and the conversation will turn to which apps are the best to use in a classroom.  Naturally, this is a subjective discussion and the indispensable choices of some teachers will leave other teachers – even those teaching the same subject or grade level, unimpressed.

There are several ways to measure an app’s effectiveness and usefulness and the table below is no more than a guide based on functionality and price.  It has proved handy as a conversation starter, however, and so I include it here with the usual warnings about trying lite versions first where they are available and making sure you only commit to payment when you are sure that the app delivers what you require of it.

Currently, there is no volume licensing agreement for the United Kingdom.  However, we are given to understand that one is in the works and it will not be too long before we enjoy the volume purchasing privileges already enjoyed by our colleagues in North America.


When it comes to app recommendations, the rest of us could do a lot worse than to listen to the teachers of Cedars School of Excellence.  Fortunately for us, they have created a wonderful resource in the form of an iBook called Cooking with Apps.  The following apps are among those recommended in its pages:Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, Scotland, was the first school in the world to implement a one-to-one iPads scheme giving iPads to every student in the school.  As Apple itself has been quick to acknowledge, Cedars, and their technology coordinator Fraser Speirs, have acquired a huge body of experience and knowledge on the best way to go about launching schemes such as this.

  1. ArtRage (Art)
  2. Adobe Ideas (Art and/or Design)
  3. Brushes (Art)
  4. Soundslate (Music and/or Audio)
  5. Moxier Collage (Art and/or Design)
  6. TypeDrawing (Art and/or Design)
  7. iThoughts (Mind Mapping)
  8. PhotoPuppet HD (Animation)
  9. Animation Creator HD (Animation)
  10. Toontastic (Animation)
  11. GarageBand (Music and/or Audio)
  12. Penultimate (Note taking)
  13. Math Bingo (Math Facts Drill and Practice)
  14. Art Authority (Art Information)
  15. Photopedia (Photographic and Art Information)
  16. Art Grid (Art and/or Maths)
  17. ArtPuzzle HD (Art)
  18. Pottery HD (Art and/or Maths and/or Business Studies)
  19. Video Physics (Physics and/or PE)
  20. SymShuffle (Maths)
  21. World Atlas HD (Geography)
  22. Snapseed (Photography and/or Art)
  23. iMotion HD (Video and/or Art)
  24. Seline HD (Music)
  25. Thumbjam (Music)
  26. OMGuitar (Music)
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Diginat Questions

Risa asks her grandfather an innocent but revealing question whilst walking in London

This isn’t a particularly iPads-related post, but it is interesting from the perspective that digital natives (or diginats as we are lazily calling them here) will be our leaders in the next decade or so and we’d better start getting used to their mindsets.  Here is Risa (aged six) asking her abuelo (grandfather, aged sixty-four) why there are such things as telephone boxes.  After all, she reasons, everyone has a telephone in their pocket.

After abuelo’s explanation Risa reported back to her sister and brother that abuelo had told her that these objects are leftover from “the olden days”.

A little later the same evening, we were channel flicking at home.  We saw a short segment from an eighties game show in which contestants apparently had to throw darts at a target in order to win prizes.  The prizes were described by the host to appropriate ooohs and aaahs from the audience and contestants.  They included a video camera, an electric typewriter, a watch, a calculator and what was evidently the leading SLR camera of its day.  I realised that the iPhone in my pocket could do everything these devices were designed to do, but in a vastly superior way and at a fraction of the cost.

I thought of phoning the producers of the game show to tell them this.  But the nearest phone box is a long walk away.

Dragon Rescue

Our eldest daughter has a suspected fractured collar bone this week.  The appointment at the fracture clinic couldn’t be made before Thursday, hence three homework days of school have had to pass before she gets either the all-clear or a cast iron excuse not to use her right hand to write.  Of course, being a digital native writing with her right hand isn’t so much of a concern.  Here we see the science report being duly completed thanks to an iPad borrowed from the first grade, and a judicious combination of the apps Dragon Dictation, Pages and Mail.

Sol doing her homework using a mini app workflow. The photo was modified with another app, PocketPixels' ColorSpash.

I’ve always said that the best thing about Dragon Dictation is that it is only about 95% accurate.  This means students are forced to edit their work for spelling and grammatical errors.  In the end the science report took about half an hour; not a great deal longer than it would have taken her to write it out by hand.  And this way it remains manipulable and with the potential for export to an ePub document or a webpage.

Or even a blog 🙂