Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to School App-pack

The image above was created using PhotoshopTouch on an iPad
and was then uploaded to Thinglink to create the hotspots.

The summer is quickly winding down & a number of teachers will be returning to their classroom with new mobile devices (iPads). Throughout the summer I have been conducting workshops on iPad integration with EdTechTeacher and I thought it might be helpful to pull together a back to school list of apps structured around specific classroom goals. While many schools may already have an Apple VPP program already in place, I know a number of teachers will also be purchasing the apps themselves. Therefore, I will do my best to include both a pay & free app for each objective.

I want my students to create & publish video:
  • iMovie (4.99) - record, edit and publish movies directly to the web from iMovie.  Web publishing choices include YouTube and Vimeo.  The most helpful feature is the "voice-over" option which allows students to narrate footage or images included in their films.
  • Vimeo (free) - a helpful free alternative to iMovie. The vimeo app allows you to record, edit and publish video to a vimeo account.  There are not as many editing options, but this is a helpful free alternative.

I want my students to demonstrate their understanding by screencasting:
  • ExplainEverything (2.99) - The best screen app available that includes the ability to import content from multiple cloud storage accounts including Dropbox.  Also, the ability to start, save and return to a project makes this app perfect for extended projects.  Once complete, a screencast can be published directly to YouTube or uploaded to a number of cloud services.
  • EduCreations (free) - a flexible option that allows screencasts to be created from either an iPad or from a web based account on a computer.  A helpful option includes the ability to create classes, enroll students and publish screencasts to a "class" within the Educreations website.
  • ScreenChomp (free) - with a stripped down interface, this platform is ideal for younger students as there is no account required to created screencasts.
  • ShowMe (free) - another great alternative for younger students that also provides the ability to publish directly to YouTube.  

I want my students to respond to polls / take quizzes:
  • Socrative (teacher & student app - free) - This free platform allows for teachers to create and begin quizzes directly from an iPad.  Using the teacher app, teachers can initiate a quiz and students can enter the teacher's "room" in the student app.  It may be easier to create quizzes from a computer by going to 
  • Polleverywhere (free - web based) - While not specifically an iPad app, this polling platform formats perfectly for web based voting on an iPad.  A helpful tip, create a customized Polleverywhere URL that your students can visit through a browser on the iPad to receive the poll question that is being "pushed out" from the teacher account.  

I want my students to edit images:
  • Skitch (free) - An extremely easy and intuitive image editing app allows you to insert shapes, arrows and text on any image that is saved to the iPad camera roll.  Once edited, images can be exported to the camera roll or sent directly to an Evernote account.
  • Visualize (.99) - An more advanced option, Visualize allows Photoshop like features without the Photoshop price.  Layer images, cutout portions of images and create customized, layered content  on an iPad.  Images can then be exported to the camera roll for use in other apps.
  • Photoshop Touch (9.99) - A bit pricey for occasional classroom use, but allows for extremely advanced editing.  Layar, cutout and add a number of effects to any image.  The learning curve is a bit steep, but the finished product can't be beat.  (The image of the app-pack was created using Photoshop Touch on an iPad)

I want my students to tell digital stories:
  • VoiceThread (free) - The most well known, collaborative digital storytelling app is now available on the iPad.  Create, comment, publish and share presentations directly from an iPad.  The one limitation is that commenting features and publishing options can't be adjusted from the iPad app, that can only be done from a computer.
  • Animoto (free) - While a bit more restrictive in terms of the finished product, Animoto offers a quick alternative as an entry level digital storytelling platform.
  • Video Scribe HD (4.99) - A relatively new app that allows you to create RSA Animate style digital stories with both background music and voice-over narration.  

I want my students to create a digital notebook:
  • Evernote (free) - Hands down this is the best digital note-taking platform on the ipad.  Create typed, image or audio notes directly within the app and organize the content into shareable notebooks.  Tie in Skitch to include edited images and Penultimate for hand written notes.  Notes can also be search later by notebook, date, or tag words.  

I want my students to keep hand written notebooks / sketchbooks:
  • Paper by 53 (free & in-app upgrades 6.99) - The most life like simulation of writing in a paper notebook on an iPad.  The app itself is free, but to have access to all of the writing tools (water color & various pen options, an in-app upgrade is required...but well worth it!)
  • Penultimate (.99) - A less expensive alternative that ties directly into Evernote.  Very accurate feel when create hand written digital notes.

I want to use my iPad as a document camera:
  • Board Cam (free / Pro - 4.99) - Shoot a live image of anything in the classroom and create annotations directly on the image.  Connect the iPad directly to a projector or use in conjunction with Reflection to create a wireless setup.

I want to use my iPad as a tablet / wirelessly project:
  • Reflection (Mac / PC download - $15) - Wirelessly mirror an iPad to a MacBook or PC.  Reflection is downloaded to a laptop computer and when an iPad is on the same wireless network, the Airplay option on an iPad allows for the iPad to be sent to the screen of the laptop. 
  • Apple TV ($99) - A pricier alternative to Reflection with the same outcome.  When both devices are on the same wireless network, an iPad can be mirrored to the Apple TV with Airplay.  One limitation is that the Apple TV only uses HDMI connections and most school projectors are VGA input, thus requiring an HDMI to VGA adaptor.
  • Air Sketch (free / 9.99) - Unlike the two above options that use Airplay to mirror out an iPad screen, Air Sketch create a unique URL for each iPad.  Enter that URL into a browser on a classroom laptop that is connected to a projector and the iPad is now wirelessly projected.  The free app allows for a blank screen and black pen, while the full version allows for presentations to be mirrored out. 

I want my students to create Podcasts & publish audio online:
  • Garage Band (4.99) - Record, edit and publish audio content from the iPad.  This app is great for student interview and podcasting projects.  Publishing options include both YouTube and SoundCloud.  
  • Sound Cloud (free) - Publish audio directly to the web from the SoundCloud app.  Audio is immediately available online at the SoundCloud website.  There is no editing option available from the app.

I want my students to write papers / word process:
  • Pages (9.99) - Apple's word processing app that allows for creating of typed content that can be exported as a Pages, Word or PDF file from the iPad via email.  Also, Word documents can be opened and edited within Pages.  Exporting options are limited.
  • CloudOn (free) - This free alternative allows users to create both Word and PowerPoint files on the iPad that can then be sent directly to a Dropbox account. 
  • Google Docs (free) - While Google Docs isn't the easiest writing platform to work with on the iPad, it is a bit better within the Google Chrome app.  When used in conjunction with the Google Drive app, documents can quickly be shared with other Google Drive users.  

I want my students to annotate course readings (PDFs):
  • Notability (.99) - Full PDF annotation, include images and insert text into notes.  
  • GoodNotes (free)
  • GoodReader (4.99)

I want my students to create digital books:
  • Book Creator (4.99) - This digital book creation platform allows a creator to easily create a digital book with text, images, audio and video from the iPad camera roll.  There are a number of cloud based exporting functions and both an ePub and PDF version of the book can be exported from the app.
  • Creative Book Builder (3.99) - Quite similar to Book Creator, however this app allows for Google Docs to be imported into a book and chapters and sections can be created within the final product.


  1. Great list of apps. How did you make the hot spots on the icons?

  2. Sarah...that is my next post. The platform is called Thinglink, very easy to use & publish like the image above.

  3. Hi Greg great list our students use SmartNote to annotate PDF's they can add text, writing, hand draw, record voice add widgets and then save to dropbox or email pages :) great app with a free and paid version. Another great app which students and teachers love is NearPod. Free and as the teacher you create a presentation and then the students on their iPad's log into that presentation. You can include video, images, quizzes, polls, text and drawing activities. The teacher app on the iPad moves the presentations along on the students iPads and you get all their results which can be exported or printed in report format. It is an awesome free app for educators. Students love it too. Check it out at

  4. Very nice list of tools but more importantly how you are going to use them.

  5. Thinglink is great, I plan on using it this year! Thanks for sharing these sites!

  6. Hi Greg, Wow! There is so much here for students to do using these variety of tools for archiving, creating, and documenting in a variety of multimedia fashions. Like the look of your blogger site, also.

  7. As an educator, I believe it is very important to teach material that is important for the future of the students. When inventing my math and memory system Brainetics (, I wanted to focus on new subjects and innovative methods to teach. By teaching for the 21st century, students will be more prepared in the future. It seems like so many aspects of today’s society centers around the digital environment and teaching should be altered to adapt.

    Great article,

    Mike Byster
    Inventor of Brainetics, Educator, Author of Genius, Mathematician

  8. Greg - This is a nice, neat package. I am excited to try something new this year as I will have access to a couple of iPads. Do you have any suggestions for Search Engines for elementary students?

    Thank you for sharing!

  9. As always Greg, great resources! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Hi! Have you considered Nearpod?? It's a pretty awesome app to launch presentations and add interactive content like quizzes, polls and drawing activities. I know teachers who've tried it and they are fascinated!! if you want more info visit to get an idea!


  11. Nice post,Every schools and teachers shuold follow the same things and it'l improves the students skill and knowledge.International Schools in South Bangalore