21 Educational Apps Approved By Teachers
Tired of reading the same old list of recommended apps? We’ve curated twenty-one fresh ones for you here, and you won’t find Dropbox or Evernote among the ranks. The best part is, they’re all approved and used by actual teachers. Take a look and feel free to suggest your own favourites in the comments.
Cargo-Bot was the first game programmed entirely on an iPad. It’s accessible for kids as young as five on its easiest levels, but it offers a real challenge as it progresses. Players use a moving crane to shift boxes around a factory. In doing so, they use coding concepts like loops and procedures and do a ton of debugging. Cargo-Bot’s Tetris-like simplicity is the key to its charm. It’s designed to make programming seem not just doable, but fun: something you’d want to do just to enjoy yourself, not as a means to some other end.
“Cargo-Bot is a very engaging iPad app that will quickly capture students’ interests while secretly teaching them principles of computer programming,” says Dave Guymon, Technology Integration Specialist for Blaine County School District in Idaho.
Voxer is a push-to-talk app which is unique in its own way. It has many amazing features like live voice recording, sending and receiving text and picture messages, and much more. Educators use Voxer in order to collaborate with one another in real time, communicate with staff members, and stay in touch outside of course hours.
Angela Watson, an educational consultant from Brooklyn, NY writes, “We’re going to read a chapter of a book a week, and whenever we read something that speaks to us, we can just get on Voxer and start reflecting aloud! Then, we we have free time, we can play each other’s messages and respond. I think the discussion will be much better than an online book club where we have to type everything out, check our spelling, re-read to see if it makes sense, and so on. I know for sure I will share more because it’s going to be easier and quicker.”
Educreations turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard. Creating a great video tutorial is as simple as touching, tapping and talking. Record your voice and iPad screen to create dynamic video tutorials that students and colleagues can access any time, as needed.
Import documents and pictures from your Photo Library, Dropbox and Google Drive. Display a custom map. Insert any webpage. Snap a photo or search the web for the perfect image, right within the app. In addition to sharing your videos with other Educreations users, you can also send videos over email, post to YouTube, Edmodo and Twitter, embed on your website, or save to your Camera Roll, Dropbox or Google Drive. Finished videos are automatically saved to your Educreations account and are instantly ready to be viewed online and shared with others. You control who can see what.
“Educreations is a great app to create flipped lectures or basic tutorials,” says Bill Brannick, Director of Technology, Archdioces of Philadelphia. “I used this for my junior/senior electives [course] to review topics and on our Cyber Snow Days to provide background prior to student assignments.”
Adobe Voice is a recently released education product from Adobe that allows students to narrate a story over an array of digital images. It doesn’t require any video; instead, the tool moves images forward in a cinematic fashion. It has gorgeous templates in terms of storytelling and a huge library of copyright friendly music and images. While educators often want to teach students about good digital citizenship, including copyright laws, having a pre-reviewed library can be useful for quicker projects. It can be seen on any platform since it is web based.
“Adobe Voice is one of my favourite educational apps for digital storytelling,” says EdTech and Curriculum Consultant Monica Burns. “It’s simple to use, has customisable features, and helps students create a fanstastic finished product.”
Shadow Puppet Edu
Shadow Puppet Edu is a free iPad app that students can use to create audio slideshow videos. The app offers an integrated search tool that students can use to find pictures from the Library of Congress, to search for images from NASA, and to find Creative Commons licensed images from Flickr. Students can also import pictures and videos from the camera roll on their iPads. After selecting a set of images students can arrange them into any sequence by simply dragging and dropping them into order. Then to create a story students press the record button and talk while flipping through the images. Shadow Puppet Edu allows students to add text and stickers to each image too. When they’re happy with their work students can share their Shadow Puppet Edu projects through a variety of methods including YouTube and email. Shadow Puppet Edu projects are automatically saved to the camera roll on a student’s iPad. Students do not have to register for an account or have an email address to use Shadow Puppet Edu.
“Shadow Puppet Edu is a free app, and is excellent for providing ongoing formative feedback,” says Teacher Librarian Deborah McCallum. Ït is also a great way for students to take pictures and record their audio to demonstrate what they have learned, engage in reflection, and more! You can upload the recordings to Youtube blogs and even share via social media.”
Despite the introduction of tools like SlideRocket and Prezi, the process around creating and presenting slides hasn’t changed much in 20 years. It involves a lot of Google searching for images, resizing text, and adding animations. What you end up making is often nothing to boast about — it gets the point across, but can look jumbled or be hard to read for your audience. Haiku Deck is a free presentation tool with many themes and Creative Commons images to choose from. Users can import photos, make charts, and generally tailor a presentation to their own style. Much like the poetry format haiku, Haiku Deck has a strict framework. The app comes with five themes and three types of charts. For example, in the bar chart, you can drag the bar to the correct number, say, 80 — and then add a label for each bar. It’s the kind of gesture action you expect when using a touchscreen. Students and teachers will delightedly adopt this tool as a substitute for PowerPoint.
Notability is a powerful note-taker on iPad and iPhone: sketch ideas, annotate documents, sign contracts, complete worksheets, keep a journal, record a lecture, jot travel notes, or teach a course. Combine handwriting, photos and typing to bring your projects to life. Add as much detail as you like with a variety of colors and fonts. Prototype with your hands. Experiment with different tools to create beautiful, hand-crafted notes. From first to final draft: scale, rotate, recolor, and repeat. Receive verbal and written comments from colleagues or peers. Review audio comments that are linked to written feedback on your iPad, iPhone and Mac. At home, during a course, or on the road, your notes are always with you, thanks to iCloud.
Canva is a free, easy-to-use, online design tool that can be used by teachers and students to create professional quality graphics in no time at all. There are several templates to get you started, but you can also create a design with custom dimensions for something like a website header that might need exact specifications. Once you pick the template you want, the editor will open with full customisation options to make this design your own. A search tab on the left side of the screen lets you search through a bank of images that you can use in your design. There are a huge number of free images and graphics here, but also a selection of premium images which can be bought for $1 each if needed.
“Canva is to graphic design what the Keurig coffee maker is to drinking coffee,” says Vicki Davis, author of the popular Cool Cat Teacher blog. “If you’re like me and you tinker with a lot of apps, it is rare that I find one that keeps drawing me back in all day long… I also like that I don’t need so many apps to be able to do basic work for my blog – I can use just one.”
One of the most popular new apps right now is Remind. According to a recently published article by NPR, one in four teachers use the app. “Think of it as a combo of sticky note and course newsletter for the digital age,” writes nprED reviewer Elissa Nadworny. “Remind allows teachers to send messages via email, cellphone, iPad or Android device to an entire course with the push of a button.” The app is particularly popular in Texas, Georgia, and Alabama, where between 40 and 50 percent of teachers use it.
iMovie puts everything you need to tell your story at your fingertips, with a beautifully streamlined interface and Multi-Touch gestures that let you enjoy your videos like never before. Browse your video library, quickly share favorite moments, and create beautiful HD movies and Hollywood-style trailers. Released last fall, iMovie version 2.1. offers several new features: video clips can be edited in the new iOS 8 Photos app by using the iMovie extension, making available an extra set of tools for tweaking and image enhancement; ten Apple-designed filters now come prepackaged for application in a single clip or across an entire movie; post-processing speed controls now allow users to slow down, speed up, or freeze sections of a clip for dramatic results; video storage and sharing options have been extended to include compatibility iCloud Drive and sending to other apps on an iOS device; and finally, you can now enjoy title creation using bi-directional text and added support for Arabic, Australian English, Hebrew, and Mexican Spanish.
Socrative lets teachers engage and assess their students with educational activities on tablets, laptops and smartphones. Through the use of real time questioning, instant result aggregation and visualisation, teachers can gauge the whole course’s current level of understanding. Socrative saves teachers time so students can further collaborate, discuss, extend and grow as a community of learners.
The most basic yet powerful use of Socrative is found in the single response activities. These activities allow students to reply to your prompt or question without entering their names. In a single response activity, you verbally pose a question or prompt to your students and they respond with a word, sentence, or multiple choice selection. The anonymous reply format is useful for surveying students when you’re asking them to submit responses to questions or prompts that they might be reluctant to share in an open format.
“One of my favorite ways to use Socrative is to host a team ‘space race,'” says Richard Byrne, author of the FreeTech4Teachers blog. “A space race is a competitive format for quizzes. Space race can be played as a team or individual activity. Each correct answer moves a rocket ship across the screen. The first person or team to get their rocket across the screen wins. Your space race questions can be pulled from a quiz that you have stored in your Socrative account.”
Tellagami is a mobile app that lets you create and share a quick animated video called a Gami. A Gami can be an exciting tweet or status update. It can be a fun way to tell a story. It can be a thank you message or a vacation postcard. It can be a birthday greeting, party invite or cool way to share photos. The possibilities are endless. Tellagami Edu is a paid version of the Tellagami app loaded with features that allows teachers and students to use the app without in-app purchases.
“Using animation with your students can have a profound effect on how they participate in a project,” says educator Richard Byrne. “Their work can be liberated when they have the opportunity to separate themselves from the physical world, removing concerns about appearance and general physics. Students who are usually introverted tend to really shine with animation. It makes them feel safer and more willing to ‘put their work out there.'”
Easel.ly is a relatively new tool; it stepped onto the scene in 2012, and since then, it has welcomed more than 300,000 users. It features thousands of free infographic templates and design objects which users can customise to create and share their visual ideas online. Using the site is as easy as dragging and dropping design elements, and users can either choose a template from our extensive library, or they can upload their own background image and start from scratch. In 2013 Easel.ly received the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Award from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The AASL commended Easel.ly for being user friendly, intuitive, and simple enough that even a child in the 6th grade could successfully navigate the site and design their infographic without adult assistance.
Aurasma is one of the most popular augmented reality tools and it’s completely free. It allows teachers to tag physical objects with videos, animations or 3D scenes so that if a student hovers over the object with their mobile device they’ll see the attachment. The pedagogical potential of Aurasma is limitless, as it allows students to add dimension to material through video, animations, and so on. Aurasma can make abstract concepts come to life to help students see their real-world applications.
Educator Ann Elliott uses Aurasma to teach 7th grade English. “I’ve noticed the students struggle with Shakespearean cadence when we read aloud in class,” she says. “To help them, I created Auras for some soliloquies that link to YouTube videos of scenes performed by a local production company. The students simply scan the page with their phones or iPads to trigger the Aura and watch the corresponding performance.”
EasyBib is a bibliography tool that helps students stay organised and track their research online. Once a student signs in for the first time, the app connect him or her to other online resources they’ve stored. After EasyBib pulls citation info on your source, it does allow you to edit the components to ensure accuracy. It also provides tips on editing the content correctly. EasyBib allows you to build several citations and save them as a Microsoft Word or Google document.
“The EasyBib Add On for Google Drive is one of the first you should enable if you are a writing teacher,” says Vicki Davis, author of the Cool Cat Teacher blog. “You can insert citations directly into Google Documents using EasyBib. MLA, APA and Chicago Style are available.”
iDoceo is a new powerful and easy to use gradebook for the iPad. Its spreadsheet engine will calculate averages in real time as you put information in. No internet connection is required to use it.
“iDoceo is really everything and more than you could ask for in an iPad mark book app,” writes teacher Jane Basnett on her blog, Ramblings from the Digital Classroom. “Consider, for a moment, all those icons that can be annotated with your own notes (I use mine to highlight individual learning needs), or the ability to write a note about each student and the areas they need to work on next time to ensure progress. Entering grades is easy too and there are all sorts of tools to help you work out averages for a piece of work by course or averages over a period of time for each student. iDoceo is really everything and more than you could ask for in an iPad mark book app.”
WhatWasThere is a free, interactive app that tells users the history of the spot where he or she is standing. It could be a good tool for history teachers.
“The most exciting aspects of WhatWasThere.com are its applications for use with students of all ages,” says Deb Vojslavek, a 5th-grade teacher for the Rockwood School District in the St. Louis area and a Teachinghistory.org Teacher Representative. “Typically children view history through their modern lenses and not in the context in which events occurred. This site allows users to practice evidence-based thinking as they synthesize the evidence from historical photos with the information obtained from other sources. This will help students to begin thinking like a historian as they determine the impact of events that are recorded in history.”
The Nearpod platform enables teachers to use their iPads to manage content on students’ iPads, iPhones or iPods. It combines presentation, collaboration, and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution. Nearpod is a participatory presentation tool that allows students to interact with the content while keeping control with the teacher. Experts say it’s a good tool to transition middle-schoolers into appropriate behavior online. They can practise by interacting with the teacher first.
“Using Nearpod, I can give students feedback on what good hypotheses, independent and dependent variables, control and experimental groups, and procedures should look like after I scanned all incoming student responses,” says science educator Terie Engelbrecht on her Crazy Teaching blog. “More importantly, students could then immediately fix whatever was wrong on their pre-lab form so they could have it for the lab the next day. And, if you as a teacher ever wanted to see what individual students typed in, you can always use the reports feature in Nearpod to look up all student answers whenever you’d like.”
Using Nearpod this way allows Engelbrecht to review about 30 pre-labs per 50-minute course period. If she scored 30 of them by hand and spent about 5 minutes on each one of them, it would take 150 minutes for a course of 30. “But the most important result of this little Nearpod extravanganza is that students received timely, actionable, and formative feedback so they could fix any understandings about self-designed labs that were broken. And that’s really what matters: helping students get better at whatever they’re trying to master.”
Effortlessly assign, collect, and review student work from anywhere with Showbie. Showbie makes it easy to collect & review student work on your iPad. Distribute assignments, instructions and resources to your students in a few taps. Multiple student submissions are sent to the teacher’s iPad, where they are collected and organised. As your students submit work, Showbie keeps everything organised in a single, convenient location. A student submission is viewed on the teacher’s iPad and feedback markup is added. Add annotations, voice notes, and text notes directly onto your students’ work in Showbie. The best part is, Showbie is compatible with thousands of other apps, including Pages, Notability, and more.
At Mabscott Elementary School, the possibilities are revolutionising Emily Greene’s fifth-grade math course.
“It has absolutely changed the dynamic in my [course],” Greene says. “The app allows students to completely do all of their work on the iPad. We don’t need paper, pencils and a textbook to teach students anymore.” Greene sends assignments and tests electronically to students’ individual iPads, including uploaded assignments from the pre-iPad days. She’s noticed a strong improvement in students’ classroom engagement since she started using Showbie. “The kids love it. They enjoy learning, and their engagement has skyrocketed. They enjoy doing their math on the app. They like using their iPad, and they like switching between the different apps.”
Team Shake is an iPad app for randomly selecting names to create teams or to select an individual name. On Team Shake you can create rosters by manually entering names or by importing a list of names. When you are ready to choose teams just select the number of teams that you want created, shake your iPad, and then each person is randomly assigned to a team.
“One of my most used educational apps right now is Team Shake,” says Darin Johnston, a 6th grade teacher in Iowa. Ït’s a $0.99 app that allows me to enter my [course], then pick by random people, by group, or by size of group. I love it, as so my students as they know it’s totally random!”
Turn your iPad into your personal interactive whiteboard with Show Me. This app allows you to record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online. It’s an amazingly simple app that anyone can use, no matter how young or old.
“ShowMe is a great interactive whiteboard that is easy to use,” says Michele Kirschenbaum, Teacher Librarian at Imagine Easy Solutions, NYC. “I have my younger elementary students use it to put together simple presentations, complete with photos and voiceovers.”