The following is an excerpt from the December issue of Edudemic Magazine. Download the issue for just $.99 to view the full issue and the rest of the list! Stay tuned (or download the magazine) for the best devices of the year!
In our year‐end special issue, we’ve worked hard at assembling the best of the best. As you probably know, we publish an array of lists and resources on edudemic.com. It’s our thing. But we have not typically taken the time to assemble those kinds of lists for the iPad magazine. The time has come for us to offer up such a list.
It contains the best (in our opinion and what we’ve heard from educators around the world) resources you should know about. Some are likely new to you, some are already known and worth another try, and others are somewhere in between. In any case, we’re proud to offer you this handy resource for you to enjoy for the entire upcoming year.
It’s the end of the year and that means you have a little extra time for the first time since summer. What better way to spend that time than to sum up the best resources of the year? From the new iPad Mini to Evernote’s latest update, there’s been a lot going on in the education technology world. The following list should serve as a useful guide for any teacher looking to find some interesting new apps, tools, or devices to try out in 2013.
NOTE: These are in no particular order and the list is actually longer in the iPad Magazine. Think an app is missing? It’s impossible to list of all the terrific new (and old) apps and tools but we did our best to showcase some new, some older, and some just plain fun resources. We’re happy to get your input though! Let us know about other tools down in the comments!
Evernote (Web, iOS, Android)
Use it for: note taking/word processing, voice recording, photos (snapshots of teachers’s notes group work, etc), share work between teachers and students, organize and search all of your notes. Great for students and teachers, sharing, and personal use. Offers free and premium options for use.
Instapaper (Web, iOS, Android)
Use it for: Creating ‘read it later’ bookmarks that can be accessed from any device. Great for putting together reading lists for timely topics, or curating a list of potential online resources for a research project or paper. Appropriate for both teacher and student use, users must create a free account.
Moodle (Web, iOS, Android)
Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites. Use it for: Creating online courses, having students reflect on their in class experiences, peer evaluations and teacher evaluations (of student work), facilitate student blogs, host forums, and collaboration between students, teachers, other schools, etc. Moodle offers nearly unlimited possibilities!
Dictionary.com (Web, iOS, Android)
Offers app and web based resources for students (and adults) of any age. Use Dictionary.com for trusted answers to word lookup. The site also houses Thesaurus.com as well as a ‘Word Dynamo’ functionality that lets you learn about new ways to express yourself using the written or spoken word.
Skype (Web, iOS, Android)
Comes in app form or downloadable software format. Skype is by far one of the most used tools in education and business. Better still, it’s free and relatively easy to use. The only hiccups we’ve had using it has been dropped calls. The iOS and Android version are a reliable way to start a pen pal communication or simply to save on your phone bill.
Blackboard (Web, iOS, Android)
You know Blackboard. You’ve probably used it whether you want to or not. We included it in the list of top tools because it’s seen some terrific enhancements over the past year but also the fact that the apps and web-based tools are used by just so many teachers and students around the world. Blackboard has been rolling out numerous new products that you should know about: Blackboard Collaborate, Transact, Mobile, Learn, Connect, Analytics, and Engage. In other words, it’s not going away anytime soon and is worth knowing about.
MyHomeworkApp (Web, iOS, Android)
Keeps track of your homework, projects, tests, and other assignments. You can set reminders for when things are due (or for a deadline to start working on something!), set level of priority, and keep track of your schedule of classes. Great for students and teachers, especially teachers offering a large number of classes – its a great way to keep track of what is due when, and for whom!
Dropbox (Web, iOS, Android)
Dropbox is a well known tool to share and sync documents across devices. In a nutshell, it saves us from carrying those pesky thumb drives (floppy discs?!) Use it for your own documents (work at home, access at school), and share documents with your students, classes, and colleagues. Have students submit work (with a timestamp!), collaborate on projects, and use it as a one stop shop for presentations and copies of class handouts so no one can ever claim they ‘lost’ it.
iDevBooks is a set of 20 math apps for iPhone and iPad by Esa Helttula. Each app explores a particular mathematical concept. The interface is very basic and thus quite easy to use, and since each concept is contained in its own app, you aren’t stuck buying a large, expensive app which you might only use a small percentage of. These apps get three thumbs up from Edudemic because they’re so easy to use, and focused on making the concepts easy to learn rather than being bogged down with bells, whistles, and ads.
Class Dojo (Web, iOS)
We’ve been tracking Class Dojo’s evolution since its inception. It’s an outstanding tool that’s seen widespread adoption as it enables teachers to get a quick grasp of all their activities, assignments, and more. Use it as a monitoring tool, or an LMS, or in your own way. However you use it, you can expect Class Dojo to continue to evolve and grow thanks to its track record and the team behind the tool. We’ve met them. They’re enthusiastic about their product and enhancing education. What’s not to love? Oh, it’s free too.
Edmodo (Web, iOS, Android)
Edmodo offers ‘social networking for schools’, and gives students, parents, and teachers a place to connect, share, and collaborate. Individual classes and groups can connect securely and separately, making it particularly appealing for younger groups. Use it for: posting assignments, creating/distributing student polls, collaborate on projects, offer peer feedback, and uploading learning materials for students (like presentations, videos, etc, that are too big to send via email). There are so many different ways to use this tool, and it is appropriate for all grade levels and subjects.
Bento (Web, iOS)
A great tool to get you organized! While there are a lot of ‘organization’ apps out there, this one gets our three thumbs up because of the great templates it comes with – some are for homework organization, others for class lists, to-dos, and more. As a teacher, this gives you tools to manage both your classroom life and home life in one place, where many others are classroom only. Since it comes in both in web and iOS flavors, you can easily organize your info on your desktop or laptop, and sync to have your information handy on the go. Fun hidden uses for you and your students: catalog your passwords, and group memberships and members (useful for a teacher with many classes).
iStudiezPro (Web, iOS)
Another organization tool? Yep. Because really, when there are so many students and classes on your radar, you need a little help to keep you on track. This tool focuses on scheduling and assignments, so its a great school tool for teachers of all levels, and students as well.
Twitter (Web, iOS, Android)
We’re recommending the service in general here. The mobile app from Twitter leaves a bit to be desired and there are plenty of third-party apps out there to do the task you need done. But Twitter as a tool in general is priceless. From digital PLNs to hashtag chats to just simply staying informed, Twitter is the #1 source of information for connected educators. We couldn’t leave it off this list and would expect to see it on here for years to come (at this rate, at least).
Learnist (Web, iOS)
The Grockit folks have been busy building a ‘Pinterest for Educators’ that’s about to become an even bigger beast. Grockit tells Edudemic that the platform is about to undergo some big improvements and the importance will be well understood by curious teachers around the world. From a total redesign to improved mobile apps and features like building your own ‘Learning Boards,’ there’s a lot to look forward to in 2013 from Learnist.
Scribd (Web, iOS, Android)
Quickly becoming the world’s largest repository of submitted documents, Scribd could some day become akin to the Library of Congress. Except it’s easier to access and is built for a teacher or student on the go. Need a searchable index of documents? How about an embeddable presentation? A social media-friendly URL for that PDF? It’s all here in the Scribd web and mobile apps.
iAnnotate (iOS, Android)
For those of you who deal with PDFs on a regular basis, this tool is for you. It allows you (and/or your students) to make notes or changes to PDF documents, which we all know is a pain otherwise. The most useful school-related use for this is probably making notes on presentations and supporting materials for a lecture or unit. It offers you the ability to use a pen, highlighter, strikethrough, and other tools to make your notes as useful as possible. Bonus: instead of making you move page by page through a document like most mobile PDF readers do, this one allows you to scroll through the whole document if you wish, which we found to be a huge time saver.
QuickOffice (iOS, Android)
QuickOffice used to be its own deal, but now its been eaten by the Google Monster. Which should tell you something – Google tools tend to be easy to use with a lot of bang for your buck. QuickOffice comes in two varieties: Plain, and HD flavor. In a nutshell, it enables users to create and edit all MS Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations (as well as PDFs) on the go. Need to do some last minute editing but there’s no computer in sight? No problem. For every useful thing MS office can be used for, its now available on your mobile device, which makes it that much better.
TED Talks (Web, iOS, Android)
Using TED Talks in educational arenas is not a new topic of discussion. And TED has even created TED-Ed, dedicated to making videos that are ‘lessons worth sharing’ by letting teachers take an educational video and use their platform to build customized quizzes, discussion guides, and other supporting materials to facilitate making a great lesson plan.
So, a web tool that allows you to make presentations? Perhaps that doesn’t sound too groundbreaking, but this one can be quite useful for a few reasons. First, if you don’t need to make presentations often then you can actually take the time to develop an interactive and in-depth presentation. Trust us, Prezi has all the bells and whistles you need. Second, you can use Prezi for more than presentations. For example, art classes could create the background of the presentation by adding in a work of art. Then, you can add ‘hot spots’ to the art and take students on a virtual tour of the art. How fun is that?
This was just an excerpt from the December issue of Edudemic Magazine. Download the issue for just $.99 to view the full issue and the rest of the list! Stay tuned (or download the magazine) for the best devices of the year!