In 2006, the year before the iPhone was launched, no-one was employed in the “apps” industry. Today that figure is half a million.
A recent survey in the US found that SmartPhones are used everywhere – during downtime (95 per cent), at work (82 per cent) and while commuting (65 per cent). I wonder what the figure would be for student SmartPhone use in the classroom (with their teachers’ permission!)?
Whether we like it or not, technology is increasing at an exponential rate and the young people in our schools love using it. Rather than banning these devices, should we not be embracing them and educating our youngsters in how to use them appropriately?
It is a slow process but many schools and colleges throughout the country are using tablets and SmartPhones to deliver an exciting and engaging modern learning experience.
I am the biggest advocate for using technology to enhance learning and, simultaneously, the biggest critic of its use just for the sake of it. I am determined to find ways of using technology to excite and engage students, but most importantly to immerse them in a learning experience that is deep and meaningful and which has a positive influence on writing and literacy.
There is a plethora of apps out there for educational purposes, the important thing is testing them out before unleashing them (try liaising with a few trusted “tech-savvy” students to trial an app). Here are some apps that I think are must-haves for the modern educator.
O2 Learn is an incredible app for creating videos of parts of a lesson. It is very easy to create high-quality clips with commentary, soundtracks, effects and titles. This app should not be considered in isolation, however. It is facilitating the UK’s biggest classroom and learning resource centre – O2 Learn is encouraging students and teachers to upload their lesson footage to create a huge bank of useful and relevant resources. Visit www.o2learn.co.uk
USB memory sticks are quickly becoming a thing of the past and Dropbox is one of the reasons why. Dropbox is a superbly implemented, cloud-based, automatic file-synchronization service that is ideal for working with documents and files that can be stored in a single folder. It is simple to use and easy to share files with other users. Visit www.dropbox.com
Coach’s Eye is an excellent app for analysing practical performances. Video clips can easily be edited, slowed down and narrated over. The app was clearly designed for use in PE lessons and sport performances but could just as effectively be used in science experiments, design technology practical work and languages conversations. Visit www.coachseye.com
There are many photo-editing apps available, with Pic Collage getting the nod for this review due to the ease at which a user can group together images and create a professional looking montage of photos. These collages are great for classroom displays, corridor notice boards and school websites. Visit
QR codes have been around for a while now, and educators are using them frequently in classrooms, corridors and on school documentation. i-nigma is a QR code reader that is quick, reliable and simple to use. Visit www.i-nigma.com
Impero is an effective tool for monitoring computer usage by students. The use of the app is dependent on Impero being the network monitoring system within a school, but to have the luxury of being able to view and control the screens of students while on the move is fantastic. Visit www.imperosoftware.com
This is an impressive school planner app. It is designed to help you organise and plan lessons, and for students this can transfer to assignments and deadlines. Integration with iCal is very useful and syncing data is a seamless process – highly recommended for teachers and students. Visit http://istudentpro.com/
Evernote is the most convenient and accessible app for recording pretty much anything you want. Being able to capture information on the move, store it online and then sync it automatically to all your devices is very useful. Visit http://evernote.com/
Getting student feedback instantly from an entire class is a powerful tool. Socrative enables this in a flexible and simple way, taking voting systems to a new level. Students can use their phones or tablets to vote. The Assessment for Learning opportunities are endless. Visit www.socrative.com
This app is a secure social network for teachers to use to engage learners. The private social platform, built on a micro-blogging model, enables teachers to send out assignments (which students can then send back), create votes, blogs and other class activities, and share files. For those whose schools do not use a virtual learning environment, this app is a must. Visit www.edmodo.com
Skitch is the perfect tool for creating simple instructional materials and “how to” guides. It is professional in appearance and very easy to use. Students absolutely love using this app for its ease of use and visual appeal. Visit http://skitch.com/
Ben Solly is vice-principal at Long Field Academy (@longfieldmelton) in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. You can follow him on Twitter @ben_solly.