Oh, what smashing apps!

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Which app to we use?

Whenever I’m asked (in fact, I don’t need to be asked, I’ll just butt in and tell you), I’m happy to say what a fantastic educational tool an iPad can be. At my school, we were lucky enough to receive a big chunk of ICT-ring fenced funding around the time the iPad 2 came out, so we got ourselves a class set of thirty, plus one for all the science teachers, plus an AppleTV in all our labs. I still can’t believe how lucky we were/still are, and believe me, they’ve been worth the money we spent on them. I’m also still in the middle of a prolonged campaign to get my 1:1 “iPads for everyone”, scheme going (it’s gaining ground, but that’s a different story). 

Of course, an iPad is only as good as the app you run on it. You can do some fantastic stuff with the (amazingly) free apps about, but sometimes I feel iPads are just being used as little, reliable laptops for internet research and PowerPoint (well, keynote, but you know what I mean) presentations. Of course I’m think about the SAMR model here (see @ICTevangelist among others on twitter for details about this). Yeah, you can do Old Skool stuff brilliantly on iPads, but it’s the Nu Cool stuff I like.  Using an app together with the iPad camera can really open up new ways for pupils to express themselves, present their work and make brilliant progress in ways that weren’t possible even a couple of years ago. 

Up on the wall

Whenever we break out the iPads in class, one of the first questions is usually “Sir, which app are we doing it on?”. There’re two reasons I don’t like that question. Firstly, I prefer the kids to decide for themselves how they’ll present their work, be it a keynote, comic strip, movie trailer – whatever. Secondly, iPads really start to rock when you combine the product of one app with the functions of another. I’ve recently learned it’s even got a name – AppSmashing.

So, to counter the questions above, I knocked up a series of little A5 posters which now form a display on my wall. The idea is that kids can refer to them for inspiration as to which app they want to start with, and then maybe ‘smash’ their initial product into a second app to really power it up. 

The right app for the job

Of course, this is just a small selection of the apps on the App Store which can be bent to an educational purpose, so the idea is to keep the display refreshed with whatever I think is working well. I’m also using the display in tandem with stuff from the fantastic @gregkuloweic who is producing great how-to guides for appsmashing – definitely worth a follow!

Fancy trying them out – get a copy here

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