Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Top 5 iPad Apps for the Classroom Series: Explain Everything

Explain Everything ™
Image Credit: http://www.morriscooke.com/

The use of iPads in schools has grown tremendously over the past few years. It seems like every week you hear of a new school or district starting a new to 1 to 1 iPad program. With that in mind, I thought it would be a helpful to share some of the insights I have gained since the launch of my school's 1 to 1 iPad program two years ago. One question that constantly comes up when discussing iPads in schools involves what apps are best for the classroom. With the endless number of apps available, this can be a very daunting question.

A key point that helps sort through this mess involves a focus on apps that allow creation. Oftentimes, teachers get bogged down with trying to find apps that support and deliver content; however, these apps seldom require much in the way of higher order thinking skills as they typically involve simple drill and practice tasks. Education Week has an excellent blog post from February 2013 that sums up this issue very nicely... All the Good Apps Fit on One Screen. As mentioned by the author, a focus on creation apps can be very liberating for a teacher as it eliminates the need to stay up-to-date with the endless number of content focused apps available. Additionally, creation apps possess much greater potential to positively impact learning and the development of 21st Century Skills such as creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

With all that being said, I have put together a list of the top 5 apps I would recommend for anyone using iPads in the classroom. The fifth and final app on my list is Explain Everything. Of the five apps on my list, Explain Everything is definitely my favorite. The developer of this app, MorrisCooke, describes it as a "unique interactive whiteboard and screencasting tool" but this is a rather humble description. If you are someone who is looking for a versatile tool for creating and editing multimedia presentations and screencasting videos, Explain Everything is the tool for you. The following are some of the key features that make Explain Everything a dynamite tool for the classroom:
  • Capability to insert any type of file, video or image into a project
  • Versatile drawing features that allows you to draw or annotate on anything within a project including video
  • Easy to use video editing tools including the ability to redo specific portions of a recording (this is a unique feature that most screencasting apps for the iPad do not offer)
  • Ability to zoom and pan to display as much or little that you need on the screen
  • Integration with almost every major cloud storage service making it super easy to export and share projects
To learn more on how to use Explain Everything, check out the following tutorials I created for students new to the app at my school.






For what Explain Everything offers in terms of functionality, its $2.99 cost is an absolute steal. In my opinion, this is the most useful overall app on the iPad for both teachers and students and I highly recommend it. Purchasing Explain Everything will be the best $2.99 you ever spend for your iPad. You can purchase the app and read more info about it here: Explain Everything

If you missed Parts 1 through 4 of this series, you can view them at the following links: 

Although the five apps I have shared in this series are certainly not the only great apps available for the iPad, they are ones that I have found to be particularly useful for the classroom. Please feel free to share any other apps that you have found to be especially good or simply share your own top 5 list. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Top 5 iPad Apps for the Classroom Series: iMovie

Image Credit: https://www.apple.com/ios/imovie/ 
The use of iPads in schools has grown tremendously over the past few years. It seems like every week you hear of a new school or district starting a new to 1 to 1 iPad program. With that in mind, I thought it would be a helpful to share some of the insights I have gained since the launch of my school's 1 to 1 iPad program two years ago. One question that constantly comes up when discussing iPads in schools involves what apps are best for the classroom. With the endless number of apps available, this can be a very daunting question.

A key point that helps sort through this mess involves a focus on apps that allow creation. Oftentimes, teachers get bogged down with trying to find apps that support and deliver content; however, these apps seldom require much in the way of higher order thinking skills as they typically involve simple drill and practice tasks. Education Week has an excellent blog post from February 2013 that sums up this issue very nicely... All the Good Apps Fit on One Screen. As mentioned by the author, a focus on creation apps can be very liberating for a teacher as it eliminates the need to stay up-to-date with the endless number of content focused apps available. Additionally, creation apps possess much greater potential to positively impact learning and the development of 21st Century Skills such as creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

With all that being said, I have put together a list of the top 5 apps I would recommend for anyone using iPads in the classroom. The fourth app on my list is the video production/editing app, iMovie, created by Apple. If you are looking for a simple but highly effective tool that you or your students can use for creating and editing movies on the iPad, iMovie is an outstanding option. One of the major advantages of the iPad for school, as opposed to a traditional laptop, is the ability to easily take pictures and record video. This makes an app such as iMovie highly important as it allows users to take any content stored on the camera roll and use it for producing more creative and professional looking videos. Below are some the most notable features that make iMovie an outstanding video creation/editing tool: 
  • Simple and intuitive user interface 
  • Extremely easy to insert existing pictures and video from camera roll into movie project
  • New pictures, video and audio recordings can be captured and inserted directly into a movie project from within the app
  • Includes a variety of built in themes and special effects that can be added to any movie
  • Allows any song in your iTunes library to be inserted into a video 
  • Offers a robust set of features for editing each audio and video clip within a movie project
  • Easy upload options to YouTube and Vimeo
  • Includes a movie trailer option that allows users to create Hollywood style movie previews (check out this great example from one of our 6th grade teachers)

*Video courtesy of @ShellRGrant



If you are completely new to iMovie, check out this tutorial I created for users unfamiliar with the app. In case you are wondering while watching the tutorial video, I am also an Olympic weightlifting coach which is why I used video footage of my athletes. Typically, I use iMovie on my iPad to create highlight videos of our team following major competitions so I can personally attest to iMovie's effectiveness for producing high quality videos. 




It is important to know that iMovie, along with every app in the iWork suite for iOS, is free with the purchase of a new iPad. If you are not eligible to download it for free, the normal cost is $4.99 but it is well worth it if you would like to have a quality video creation/editing app for your iPad. If you would like to download Keynote or view more detailed info on it, visit the following link: iMovie

If you are familiar with another video creation/editing app for the iPad that is comparable or even better than iMovie, feel to comment and share your recommendation. It is always helpful to know about the different options available. In the next post, we will review the final app in my top 5 list....Explain Everything.

If you missed Parts 1 through 3 of this series, you can view them at the following links: 

Notability
Pages
Keynote

Have a blessed week!