5 Tools For The Device Agnostic Classroom

Selecting apps and planning projects in a BYOD can be a formidable endeavor. What device does Gavin have? Does this website work on Caroline’s iPad? Is there a comparable collage or cartoon application on Hayden’s device?

device agnostic

“Device Agnostic” tools can alleviate the stress that is associated with student performance tasks in a BYOD.

“A device-agnostic mobile application (app), for example, is compatible with most operating systems and may also work on different types of devices, including notebooks, tablet PCs and smartphones.” – Margaret Rouse

In a recent webinar focusing on tools for a BYOD, five device-agnostic applications for creative student projects were front and center. But truly, it is not just about the tool, but what the tool allows our students to do and achieve. In fact, Falkirk EDU takes this idea one step further. Rather than assigning every student a collage or movie assignment and having them each achieve that product with a similar tool, they propose student autonomy in the selection process:

“A device neutral classroom is one where the learning activity does not presume that a specific tool will be used to undertake the activity – instead, in order to demonstrate learning, the pupil can choose whichever tool they have available which meets the requirements.” - Mobile Devices in Falkirk EDU

device agnostic

To provide BYOD’s with a menu of creative, open-ended applications to serve up to their students, I have carefully chosen five fully featured device agnostic tools to meet the needs of any K-12 classroom.

Haiku Deck

(Web and iOS Version)

Haiku Deck is truly the presentation software of the future. It offers built-in Flickr Creative Commons image search and automatically cites the selected images (of course students can also use their own pictures). Due to the nature of the slide designs, the tool forces students to title a slide and provide minimal text, which can also include graphs and bulleted lists. This ultimately frees students up from reading slides and forces them to be concise. Haiku Decks can be shared with a link, embedded, downloaded as a PDF, or even exported as a PowerPoint.

Curricular Examples include:


(Web version)

Tackk is essentially a multi-media scrolling poster. Tackks can include formatted text, images, maps, video, audio, buttons and links. Video must be hosted with a service like YouTube or Vimeo, and audio with SoundCloud, which means that students can create their own media and upload it to a site or utilize pre-created content. Either way, this tool can easily create compelling curricular resources. Tackks can be shared with a link or embedded on web sites.

Curricular Examples include:


(Web and iOS Version)

Snapguide is the how-to for visual learners. Essentially, this tool allows students and teachers to create step-by-step guides for anything. Each step of the guide can include text, photos, and even videos! Perfect for procedural writing and tutorials, Snapguides can be shared with a link or embedded.

Curricular Examples include

Big Huge Labs

(Web Version)

Big Huge Labs is really an oldie but a goody. While the tool offers 20+ mini applications, four stand out: Movie Poster, Magazine Cover, Badge Maker, and Trading Card. Though the tool only allows students to upload a photo, add text within the template, and save the final product as an image, these images can be augmented and transformed with an app like Thinglink. Imagine creating a movie poster and Thinglinking it to a student-created movie trailer, a literary movie treatment composed with a Tackk or a Google Doc, or even a character map designed with Popplet.

Curricular Example: Big Huge Labs Goes Interactive


(Web and iOS and Android Version)

Thinglink is truly the tool to rule them all as any other tool or student project can be linked to it (as seen with the Big Huge Labs sample). Create an image, upload it to the Thinglink site, and link other media to it to create an ePortfolio. Oftentimes, a photograph alone does not offer enough dimension and compartments to thoughtfully map out an idea. Many educators have found that they prefer to create more robust images with a tool like Canvas, easel.ly, or Popplet to use as the background image of their ThingLink. For a full list of tools to create powerful imagery, visit the resources linked here. Thinglinks can be shared with a link or embedded.

Curricular Examples and Resources include:

Now that you have a hearty platter of tools, how will you share and utilize these applications to engage learners and make student learning visible?

To learn more from Lisa Johnson, you can hear her at the July 28-30 EdTechTeacher Summit. She will also be teaching a three day iPad Classroom workshop in Austin, TX this August.


  1. Alena Zink

    May 21, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Thank you for sharing your ideas in this post. I have used and come to love all the tools you are mentioned. I do, however, would like to add one more – Wixie. This app is a must-have for elementary students. Teachers can set up assignments, assessments, create own rubrics, differentiate, and implement the 4 Cs easily and effectively. And there is something magical about having an empty canvas. It allows students to show their creativity and personalize learning in many different ways. Finally, this app is a perfect platform for progress monitoring students progress towards specific standards. It is a great tool to use if teachers build student-centered classrooms and implement student-led conferences.

    • Lisa Johnson

      May 26, 2014 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks so much for the feedback. I will say that I reviewed and explored Wixie a year or so ago and it was still a bit clunky on the iPad. I did see the potential for the tool especially with the templates and personalization but found the interface to be a deterrent. I will definitely have to revisit this tool. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Cassie

    May 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm


    I agree with you about Wixie. It is such a user friendly app that students can do a lot with!

    • Heather Temske

      June 3, 2014 at 6:25 am

      I second that. It really is a great tool for multiple platforms.

  3. Azar Aftimos

    May 23, 2014 at 5:30 am

    Thank you very much for the helpful ideas that you shared with everyone.
    Great work.

  4. Lisa Ma

    May 27, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks so much for including Haiku Deck on this list! Those are awesome ideas for the classroom, and if any of your readers have any trouble with turning their deck into a video, we have a helpful article on that here: https://haikudeck.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202231283-FAQ-Export-a-Video-of-Your-Deck

    Lisa Ma
    Customer Evangelist, Haiku Deck

  5. Meegan

    June 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Lisa,
    I wanted to share another idea: classflow.com
    Allows teachers to create cloud-based lessons and share pages with students! They can annotate, vote, take photos and send it all back to the teacher. And it’s FREE! Works with any device. Students enter the teacher’s code (which never changes) and they’re set!