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Revealed: the most useful educational iPad apps

16 July 2012

The University of Adelaide’s Dr Ian Green and Allan Carrington led a seminar on Friday July 13th in which the use of iPad applications for educational purposes was discussed and, in some cases, debated. Ele Cooper gives the lowdown on the most exciting apps on the market.

iPad with app icons spelling out 'The future is mobile'

Teachers the world over are increasingly using iPads and other, non-Apple equivalents in their classes. Last week, Ian Green and Allan Carrington, ‘Apple Distinguished Educators’, led a ‘padagogy’ seminar in which they told UCL staff about the most exciting apps on the market for people involved in higher education.

Below are brief summaries of a few of the most innovative apps Green and Carrington presented (you can view their entire presentation here).

Mental case

According to the developers, this is the “world’s largest study card library”. It’s essentially an online collection of flash cards, to which users can add their own, be it in image, audio, video or written form. Flash card-style learning might usually be associated with younger learners but, according to the developers’ research, it’s also very effective for adults.

Compatibility: Mac, iPad, iPhone
Price: Free classroom edition for iPhone and iPad
Website: mentalcaseapp.com

iAnnotate

This app allows you to annotate a PDF with typed notes, highlighted sections, drawn markings, or audio clips of up to one minute. It can serve as a fantastic aide to markers who are short of time, even extracting all of the feedback into email format at the end of the process. The students you’re sending the work back to don’t need to have the app themselves as you can save the file back into a PDF, complete with annotations.

Compatibility: iPad, android tables via Google Play
Price: $9.99 for iPad, free via Google Play
Website: branchfire.com/iannotate

Quality Feedback

Strictly speaking, this isn’t an app – it’s a bit of software that Green and Carrington’s colleagues back in Adelaide have developed, which allows users to feed in the feedback they’ve made using iAnnotate (see above) and then takes the individual comments and weaves them into a coherent paragraph. But it gets cleverer: you can compose a multiple choice list of comments to use when marking a paper and give the comments associated scores. Quality Feedback then amalgamates these marks to come up with a unique grade, and exports each student’s result into a spreadsheet. It can take a while to set up, especially given the longer typing time you need to allow when using an iPad, but users have reported a 33% reduction in marking time once they’ve got going – a significant saving, especially with large cohorts. Quality Feedback is still being trialled and developed but its creators are keen to get more people involved so if you’re interested, get in touch via the website.

Compatibility: iPad
Price: N/A
Website: qualityfeedback.org

Audio Boo

With Audio Boo you can record audio clips on your phone, add a photo, map location and/or caption, and immediately upload to the internet – or even autopost to Facebook or Twitter. You can follow other people or choose to hear what’s going on in the vicinity, which offers potential for some very interesting student activities. You can also podcast, with followers subscribing via iTunes or RSS, or take the embed code from audioboo.fm and stream it on your own website.

Compatibility: iPhone, android, Nokia phones
Price: Free
Website: audioboo.fm

Evernote Peek

Revising is rarely fun but this app goes some way towards making it so. You import a ‘notebook’ from Evernote, an app that allows you to record the information you want to remember, and then cover your iPad’s screen with its smart cover. Unfold the cover a section at a time and the app will first reveal a clue and then the answer to the question. It even gives you a score at the end.

Compatibility: iPad
Price: Free
Website: evernote.com/peek

Voice Thread

The educational version of Voice Thread is fantastic for group work and peer-assisted learning, as it allows multiple users to add comments in audio or video format to a file (eg a Powerpoint presentation or an image).

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Price: Free
Website: ed.voicethread.com

Aurasma

This is a really amazing tool. You capture a still image (for instance a poster in your department) using your iPad and then create a video to go with it. Later, other people can hold their iPads up to the still image and it will automatically start playing the video that you’ve created. You can see a video that Green and Carrington played featuring new students who’d been set an ice-breaker activity using this app by clicking here.

Compatibility: iPhone 4, iPad 2, android 2.2 and above
Price: Free 
Website: aurasma.com

Page last modified on 16 jul 12 09:42


Tell us about the inspiring teaching and learning taking place in your department: email teaching.learning@ucl.ac.uk

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