10 App Surprises Awaiting Your Classes
Over the summer, app developers are always busy adding new functions to many of the apps we use. Keeping up to speed with changes is a challenge. I’m sure most of us at some point have opened an app and suddenly everything has changed. So here’s a quick run down of some useful changes that have been made in popular apps over the summer.
1.Explain Everything is one of the “go to apps” for many teachers using iPads. The new version offers two interface options. There is a simple user interface for younger learners/beginners which can be switched to the full and more complex interface. We think this will be helpful to many primary teachers and learners. The interface can be easily toggled between simple and standard in the settings section of the app. Exporting projects has also been simplified. This is now much easier with a single pane of options.
2. Hopscotch has been a very popular app for teachers delivering computing and programming. Sounds have now been added to the app. Sounds can now be programmed to play when objects collide or are touched, so it is very helpful for creating more exciting games. If you have created games with Hopscotch, you will probably have used some of the great Youtube tutorials shared by the lovely people at Hopscotch. The great news is that video tutorials are built into the app. We can play and stop and then rewind to catch the explanation as many times as we need, without leaving the app. This is a fantastic tool for budding game designers and programmers and it’s free!
3. Showbie is a popular way of managing class projects. Over the summer, the developers have added a much requested function to the Pro version, a grade/mark book. As with adding a comment, we can now add a grade, a percentage, a letter and these grades appear in the class list after the pupil’s name. Grades lists can be exported as CSV, HTML formats and can be emailed.
4. Book Creator is one of the most popular education apps. It is such a flexible and easy way to capture learning using multimedia tools on the iPad. Designing engaging book covers though has been a challenge with the limited set of system fonts that Apple provides. Book Creator now has its own in app fonts.
Designing and choosing fonts for a specific audience is now much easier. The word on the digital street is the Book Creator has more exciting updates to follow soon!
5. If you have been to an iPad training day, the Green Screen app was probably an app that was featured. Doink’s app has made the green screen process very easy and fun to manage in the classroom. Now we can resize the video tracks. This is very useful if you want to look tiny in front of a volcano background. The app also offers the ability to paint and crop to mask objects in the video clip.
6. Adobe Voice is popular for show and tell type activities. It now allows devices to remain logged in and we have more control over customisation of themes, fonts and colour schemes. To access these options we need to tap on customise theme.
Once open, the Theme Lab (as Adobe calls it) enables us to change the background colour, the icon colour, the main and secondary text colours. There are 12 fonts choices as well.
7. Squeebles Spelling app has been a favourite but managing additional word lists has been until now, time consuming. The new version (a free upgrade) includes UK specific pre-recorded words. All are free to download! There is a limit though of seven devices to each Squeebles account, although it is possible to create more than one account.
8. This change has been in the public domain for a while now but Scratch Jnr files can be shared not only by Airdrop but also by Showbie. This is great for gathering evidence. We can do this by tapping the page curl in the top right of the Scratch screen. Here we will be given the choice of sharing the project by email or by Airdrop. If we choose Airdrop we will also have the ‘open in’ option of other apps and Showbie will be one of these options.
9. The developers of free and fabulous music app Auxy, have recently added the option to publish the track and share the url. There are no messy accounts that need to be created. The files are shared to Auxy’s server and can be linked to easily by QR codes.
Students don’t have to supply any personal information, so their identities are safe. It’s worth pointing out that Auxy projects can also be opened in iMovie, so it is a great app for creating backing tracks for video projects.
10. There is now a fully fledged Padlet app (free) as opposed to creating your collaborative notes within Safari. It’s still very early days for this app, but the ‘copy the embed code’ option is really helpful for use with the class blog.
Of course, we all have iOS 9 to look forward to in the next few weeks, just after we’ve set everything up in the holidays! Change is constant when it comes to working with technology!