Sunday, September 16, 2012

New apps and new opportunities

One of the great advantages of utilizing the iPad as a digital tool to enhance student learning is that the iPad is an incredibly flexible tool for both teaching and learning.  Teachers can prescribe specific apps and steps to support the design of a lesson.  At the same time, students are empowered to use apps that help them organize their own learning and extend that learning beyond the initial learning situation.

What are the apps that help students organize their work?  When we launched the one-to-one program at the beginning of the 2011-12 year, we found answers that worked for us at that particular moment in time.  Almost a year later, we have learned about new tools and have new insights into how our students use the iPad.  While it is still early in the school year, here are some of the tools that our students are using this Fall:

7th Graders in Annemarie Wheaton's Life Science course
use iPads.. with lots of other tools and media!
Notability - At this time last year, we rolled out Noterize (now rebranded and upgraded as Paperport Notes) to support annotating documents, completing handouts, organizing PDFs at other documents, and -- for some students -- taking handwritten or typed notes.  This tool was particularly used by high school students for most note-taking and by middle school students working with PDFs.  Noteshelf was an app used by middle school students for taking handwritten notes.  Throughout the school year, we kept hearing from friends at other schools about the merits of a $0.49 ($0.99/individually) app called Notability.  Notability integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organizing in one app.  It works with Box which is extremely helpful in our environment (though Notability's connection to Box is not as perfect as it could be yet).  Notability is now the app our high school, middle school, and primary school teachers show students first.

Socrative - Last year we used an app called eClicker for student response on iPads.  Student response apps allow you to take the "pulse" of a class's learning quickly and in a way that empowers less confident students to tell you whether they've learned something without embarrassment.  Such apps can also be used for quick quizzes.  eClicker worked but was limited to timed questions and was a little pricey for school-wide use.  Now the original eClicker is no longer available (more information on the new version of eClicker is documented here) but we have had success using a newer entry to this field, Socrative.  Socrative is a little more complicated but has additional features for running "quizzes" and instant response for quick student feedback.  I particularly like how it does not require student and faculty iPads to be on the same network and how quiz-takers can access quizzes through the web on any device.

Clibe - Clibe is allowing our high school students to create beautiful (really -- they are stunning!) journals in science classes and in other subjects.  Notebooks are instantly shared with the teacher without hassle so that the teacher is able to review the progress of student work effortlessly and with no printing of paper.  We have had some challenges getting this sync process to work perfectly in every case and are trying to contact support with little success, but hopefully those challenges will be ironed out soon.  We do not use this app with younger students because there is no way to shut off the impressive -- but "open" -- Clibe library of notebooks others in the world have shared.

Pages - QuickOffice Pro HD was our word processor of choice last year.  Our students and teachers are turning more often to Apple's Pages app for word processing.  We will have more discussion of paper-writing in a future blog post.

In the coming weeks, this blog will narrate how these apps have been used in particular classroom experiences.  We will also highlight emerging trends and new uses for iPads in the curriculum.  For example, we are observing how software that had been flash-based on the web for younger grades is -- in some cases -- being supplanted by engaging iPad apps.  How is this changing how we learn and teach?  We will also discuss other challenges and successes as we work with these digital tools in Kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Thanks for being part of our integrated technology experience,

Christopher K. Sokolov
Director of Technology

1 comment:

  1. I noted some challenges with syncing with Clibe in the article. Given our continuing challenges with Clibe's syncing being unreliable, and our inability to get help from Clibe's support, I can't recommend an investment in time or money with Clibe at this moment. Clibe empowers the creation of stunning work but the learning environment requires stable apps.