Students attempting to text in class might be the bane of teachers everywhere, but even the most jaded luddite would have to admit: Tablets and smartphones in the classroom bring a number of advantages too. From greater student engagement to an expansion of the learning environment beyond normal school hours, gadgets can open new educational doors. But hardware is only part of the puzzle. You also need the right software to spool up those eager young minds.
That’s where these come in. From creating lesson plans and keeping attendance, to behavior records and communicating with students outside the classroom, these apps let teachers harness tech instead of fighting it. Knowing, it turns out, really is half the battle.
Chances are you’re already familiar with Dropbox. The service and accompanying application are terrific when it comes time to upload and store presentation photos, assignments, videos, and anything else you might need to access while at home or in the classroom. The dedicated app also lets you create and edit Microsoft Office files on your mobile device, and moreover, share file links with your students so you don’t have to clutter their inbox with a cacophony of enormous files.
Education takes place inside and out of the classroom. That said, Pocket gives you a way to quickly save articles, videos, and other Web content that might seem pertinent to your current or future class lectures. The app also lets you view anything you save offline, while presenting your articles with an easy-to-view layout that typically enhances the reading experience, regardless of your device. Sharing that enlightening article on the Roanoke colonists with your students couldn’t be easier.
ClassDojo isn’t your typical classroom-management platform. Whereas others concern themselves with gold stars and charts, this app lets teachers emphasize positive feedback, allowing you to elaborate on the behavior of your students with comments such as “working hard” or “participating.” You can even send parents public and private messages regarding their child’s progress, and if they desire to do so, they can view their child’s feedback in real-time. No school newsletter required.
Lackluster name and interface aside, eBackpack excels where other collaboration tools do not. The app allows you to share information and course assignments with a class or individual group, while subsequently providing you the tools to annotate and grade said assignments before digitally returning them. Additionally, you can upload items from you camera roll and provide audio and video feedback wherever you see fit. Classroom discussions and chat functionality are just a bonus.
Writing can be a difficult task, particularly when you’re just beginning to learn the ropes. Creative Writing Prompts aides both teachers and students alike, though, offering more than 1,000 starting lines and unique prompts designed to improve one’s writing process. The app also lets you save and share your work via a host of social media avenues, and while it might be more suitable for free writing than anything else, the daily writing reminders help keep you motivated regardless of the circumstance.
Edmodo allows the discussion to continue even after that school bell rings. Teachers and students can share content and use the app as a conduit for new information or notifications, submitting assignments and receiving grades in the process. The ability for teachers to post assignments, messages, polls and quizzes, while providing access to relevant resources and calendars, is simply invaluable.
Organization is key in the classroom, but it’s not always easy. Teacher’s Assistant Pro allows you to keep a set of behavior records for each student in your care, offering a quick method for looking up and noting bad behavior, and letting you email specific incidents from directly within the app’s main interface.
Teacher Aide 2 is the Android counterpart to Teacher’s Assistant Pro, allowing you to easily record attendance and student information. Clicking a student’s name reveals their contact information and that of their parents, providing options for calling and emailing on the spot. The app even houses a gradebook function for assigning different weights to assignments.
As a clever alternative to standard presentations, ScreenChomp allows you to record your own narrations as you sketch out and explain an idea on your iPad. Whether you sketch on a plain background or choose a specific image from your camera roll, you can explain as you go after sharing the video with students or other educators via a unique URL or downloadable MP4.
Simply put, Educreations is an interactive whiteboard app that allows you to create easy to follow tutorials for students. You can record audio to narrate your actions as well, allowing you to create diagrams, commentary, simple animations, or instructions with coupled audio covering any topic. Plus, you can share video via email, Facebook, or Twitter in addition to the classroom.
Flashcards are a time-tested method of study, but they can be easy to loose track of given their size and durability. With Studyblue, teachers can create digital sets of flashcards, study guides, and quizzes, each complete with optional audio and video. Moreover, students can create and share their own sets of flashcards and study tools, giving them a convenient place to start studying outside of simple lectures and text books.
The whiteboard as you knew it is dead. Splashtop Whiteboard lets you turn your tablet into an interactive whiteboard controllable via Wi-Fi. Once connected to a computer, the app also allows you to watch Flash media with fully synchronized video and audio, control PC and Mac applications, annotate existing content, and even create instructional tutorials that easily integrate with existing whiteboard technology.
You can’t go wrong with TED. The organization’s official app houses hundreds of inspiring and intriguing TED Talks, featuring fascinating lectures from industry and subject matter experts spanning a wide swath of categorical topics (neuroscience, traditional folk music, human evolution, etc.). Some of them are perfectly suited for sparking classroom discussions and online debates, while others can serve as inspiration for educators creating new lesson plans or lectures.
The innovative, magazine-like Zite culls content such as relevant blog posts, news articles, and videos from an exhaustive bank of more than 40,000 chosen topics. The app learns your preferences over time, customizing displayed content using a robust algorithm, rendering it ideal for teachers who want to stay on top of the latest subject matter and find the latest news to share with students without having to spend hours scouring the Web every afternoon.
Transparency and collaboration are pivotal with students. With Blackboard Mobile Learn, you can send push notifications regarding course activity and start discussion boards among your students, and even post blogs, grades, and announcements in addition to mobile-friendly exams and other content items. Though some schools offer the app for free, a life-long personal license only costs a mere $6.
Class Messenger is a way for teachers to keep parents privately aware of what is going on in their child’s classroom. Teachers can send messages individual parents or those of the entire class, reminding them of upcoming school trips, prompting them to volunteer, or surveying them regarding certain material. Messages and push notifications also sync across both mobile and desktop platforms, ensuring up-to-date content.
Though kids are held responsible when checking out books from the library, keeping track of books within the classroom is a different story. With Classroom Organizer, you can scan a book’s respective bar code whenever a child checks it out, pairing the kid’s name with the book and keeping a visible record of who possesses what without having to manually enter ISBN numbers for each individual book or purchase a traditional and unnecessary USB scanner.
As the apt name might imply, Remind101 allows teachers to safely send reminder texts to students. Communication only goes one way, meaning you can easily send encouraging messages or reminders about upcoming assignments or quizzes without being bombarded with questions. Students can sign up by texting a specific number, or simply receive reminders via email if they prefer, and the app never discloses the number or email of either party involved. Parents can even sign up to stay in the loop.
Subtext is the ultimate way to keep kids in track with assigned readings. You can easily embed discussion topics directly into the reading, while additionally allowing students to view added information and make comments regarding certain highlighted passages. Students can also double-tap any word to access the app’s built-in dictionary, or simply mark key sentences and paragraphs. A $30 subscription even lets you track student progress.
Group projects can be difficult when everyone is operating on a different schedule and page. Fortunately, Trello lets students stay organized, providing handy tools designed to keep them on task. The app allows them to create checklists, upload images, and assign tasks to other users among other actions, while conveniently syncing content across devices via the cloud. Content is displayed within a card-peppered interface, with options to easily delete tasks once completed.