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Getting ‘app-happy’ can enhance teaching

If there has been a battle to keep electronic devices and its associated tech out of the classroom, it is all but lost.  Perhaps for good reason. When used judiciously and deliberately under the teacher’s control, there may be less to lose and more to gain than from the little hand-held distractors.

‘If you can’t beat them join them’ is one approach, but for the classroom, the better, though admittedly less catchy maxim might be this: ‘if you can’t beat them, put them to work to enhance learning’.

While students harness technology to manage their own priorities, which are largely social, teachers can employ the same ‘app-happy’ mentality to learning outcomes. How to ascertain what tech can do for you? Well, there’s probably an app for that. In 2017, there could be an app for everything.  At School News, we scoured the offerings and have outlined a few free teacher-friendly apps below:

Kahoot: At the Kahoot website, teachers can transform a boring lesson into a game show. You enter your prepared questions and an online game is created. Students download the Kahoot app to use as a buzzer and, hey presto, you have a game show.

Dropbox: Most teachers are probably already familiar with Dropbox, but the dedicated app also lets you create and edit Microsoft Office files on your mobile device; upload and store presentations, photos, assignments, and videos, so you can access them wherever you are and share links with students and parents.

TED: The official TED app is scintillating content at your fingertips, including oodles of fascinating TED Talks, featuring engaging lectures from industry and subject matter experts. Great for getting discussion started.

Remind: The Remind app offers fast, efficient school messaging, easing communication between teachers, students, and their parents. From class announcements and group chats, to contacting individuals privately, the app covers all situations, and can be translated into 70 different languages.

ClassDojo: For teachers who use rewards and star charts, this app lets teachers supplement the ‘rewards’ with positive feedback messages. Parents can log on and view their own child’s ‘behaviour profile’ throughout the day and teachers can use the app to communicate with parents.

Seesaw: Want parents to see what you saw at school today? The app allows students to store a portfolio of work, and post their best samples to share with parents. Teachers can access the app to illustrate progress to parents at reporting time.

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Suzy Barry

Suzy Barry is a freelance education writer and the former editor of School News, Australia.

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