Premier League Apps – Avoiding App Frenzy

One of the exciting things about setting off on an I Pad journey in school is the exploration of the wide availability of apps available to support both learning and teaching. One of the significant advantages of Apple devices over their competitors remains the quality, quantity and low prices of available software. In November, 2012 Apple approved its one millionth app, and there have been no less than 60 billion downloads from the App Store to date. However, the wide availability of apps can also be a barrier to progress. One piece of advice I can offer to anyone starting off a new I pad project is to try to avoid the ‘app frenzy’ that seems to naturally arise at the offset.

It is great to hear colleagues talk with enthusiasm about a particular app that they have discovered, but all to easy to fall into the ‘there’s an app for that’ trap, and collect anything that seems remotely useful on your tablet. Apps form the basis of many conversations about I Pads, but the success of tablet provision in the classroom is certainly not underpinned solely by apps – I have made it clear in earlier blogs how I feel that pedagogy must be the prime mover when planning the use of tablets in the classroom. Once a clear direction and purpose in learning has been established, then suitable software can be chosen to support this. Therefore, rather than collect apps like stamps, I would suggest that it is more productive to carefully select a small number of generic apps and become highly skilled in their use.

A useful challenge is to try to limit your app collection to a single I pad screen. Without including any of The I Pad’s own apps like Calendar, Clock, App Store and so on, it is possible to fit 20 apps onto a screen (avoiding the use of folders), with the possibility of adding a further 6 on the home bar. This gives you a total of 26 apps to form your ‘premier collection’. The collective cost of this collection of generic apps that can be used to support learning in any subject area is probably less than a single glossy textbook, so represents real value for money!

I have included my ‘premier collection’ screen below:


‘Premier League’ apps (in no particular order):
EXPLAIN EVERYTHING – my main ‘go to’ app for students to compile their work and demonstrate their understanding
BOOK CREATOR – great tool for students to present their work and publish as an e-book
I MOVIE – allows students to curate and edit their own films along with clips from external sources. The I Movie Trailer tool is particularly useful
VIDEOSCRIBE – easy to use animation tool that students can use to demonstrate understanding
TELLEGAMI – can be used to make short animated films
POPPLET – mind mapping planning tool
PUPPET PALS – story telling / explaining tool using animated cartoon characters
QR READER – to read quick response codes
PIC COLLAGE – neat way to combine a set of images in a creative way
SOCRATIVE – excellent AFL tool that gives instant feedback and a way to quickly assess student understanding through quizzes and exit tickets
COMIC LIFE – turns pictures and text into comic strips to summarise key events or show understanding
WORD FOTO – constructs pictures from key vocabulary
I BOOKS – source of free publications, and a place to publish students’ work
DROPBOX – cloud storage site for completed student work
THINGLINK – make interactive maps and photos
STICK AROUND – students can make puzzles to demonstrate learning
SKITCH – annotate photos or maps
FX STUDIO – simple green screening tool works well with I Movie
PAPERPORT NOTES – simple note taking software
AURASMA – augmented reality key site

And on the home bar:
I MOTION – stop motion animation
EDMODO – ‘Facebook for schools’ facilitates student teacher communication and sharing of resources
SHOW ME (or EDUCREATIONS) – simple screen casting tools
SHOWBIE – shares resources and manages student work
VIDEO IN VIDEO – 2 films in one
HAIKU DECK – alternative presentation tool. PowerPoint with themes

This is today’s selection, but my choices would probably be different tomorrow! My favourite apps change from day to day as new ones are discovered or recommended. I will mention a few additional ‘near misses’ apps as my ‘subs bench’:

Pages, Keynote, GarageBand, Paper By 53, Action Movie, Rory’s Story Cubes, Autorap, Coach My Video, Bitstrips, Grafio and I Buttons all nearly made it onto the main screen.

I will give consideration to a set of 26 Geography apps in my next blog, and also attempt to create a ‘Premier Choice’ of 26 free apps. I would be interested to hear what apps would be selected by other educators – what gems have I overlooked?


About devongeography

Head of Geography and Assistant Vice Principal at South Molton Community College, North Devon. Exeter Chiefs supporter!
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