When rolling out iPads in education, often the first question we get is what are your favorite apps? We chuckle a little, because we know that iPads in the classroom are more than apps. And while we do use a criteria for choosing apps, we think bigger than just apps. Bringing iPads in the classroom is just one small piece of the pie. There is so much more to consider.
More than an app is needed to be successful, the question becomes what do you want students to accomplish. When the focus is on student learning, the conversation shifts from apps to how to craft a student centered learning environment. The iPad is just a tool, a very powerful one, that if used correctly can unleash learning opportunities teachers and students have only dreamed of. Training, coaching, and on-going opportunities to grow provides teachers a framework on best practices for teaching and learning in a digital classroom. Instead of using the iPad as a tool to substitute what is currently done in the classroom, teachers instead learn how to shift from a teacher centered classroom to a learner centered classroom.
In Bellevue Public Schools, we use Google Apps for Ed for our student work flow. Students have access to e-mail, Google Drive, and YouTube. These buckets become essential tools as students begin to create work and need to share/store/submit their work from their iPads to their teachers and parents. We favor app that export to Google Drive or YouTube, allow for creativity, are easy to share, work across all grade levels, and increase collaboration.
We’ve been at this now for three years and have learned a lot. We shy away from in-app purchases and apps that are used in only one part of the curriculum. We provide continuous training and support to our iPad teachers through monthly collaboration days, in class coaching and co-teaching models, and bring parents in for iPad sharing sessions. We’ve discovered that we really only need about two iPad screens of apps and only three paid apps.
Here is a link to our favorite core apps.