Improving the Journey – Airserver

Until recently we were using a VGA connector to display our iPads on our Smartboards. This meant that we were tied to a physical connection to a computer. We considered using Apple TV, but found that many of our projectors didn’t have an HDMI capacity. We then explored the idea of an HDMI adapter. This wasn’t a cheap option and the quality wasn’t great.
We then found Airserver http://www.airserver.com . Airserver is proving to be a brilliant display solution. Here I must stress Airserver isn’t Apple TV. Airserver is really just provides the airplay capability that Apple TV enables.
The reason that Airserver is a good solution for us is that it is cheaper than Apple TV, it interacts well with old projectors without HDMI, it can display multiple iPad screens (up to eight without too much distortion), it provides good quality audio and visual wireless display via a PC.
If you go with the Airserver option you should install a couple of additional programs (free) which are recommended during the Airserver installation such as Bonjour.

We have installed Airserver on several PCs which we have connected to Smartboards and the application is being used actively by students and teachers. In general it has been pretty reliable.
The other evening our PA (Parent Association) were doing a cooking evening. We were able to use Airserver in conjunction with iPads and a projector to display close up images of the food preparation to the audience in a large hall area. It may also be useful to provide close up vision of our band in action during performances.
In small group work it has also been useful as the teacher can keep an eye on the work being done on several iPads at once.
Clearly though the big advantage is being able to gain mobility and for students and teachers to use the displays from anywhere in the space.

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I must emphasise that Airserver isn’t a complete entertainment and display system like Apple TV. It is just a simple airplay option.

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Above: The PA cooking class in action.

More Than Just A Few Souvenirs (1:1 iPad Program)

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The iPad Program has revolutionised our school in many ways and a number of by-products have been generated as a result of their adoption.

Firstly we were forced to evolve our connectivity. Clearly our old wireless network, stitched together with a mixture of different branded wireless access points, wasn’t going to be reliable or fast enough for the onslaught of so many data hungry devices. Initially we trialled a Cisco access point (we chose a device which could become a part of a managed network) and over the course of about a year we progressively built a managed CISCO wireless network.Today we have 10 access points which work together seamlessly so that no matter where we are in the school buildings, and in some areas of the playground, the wireless network is available all the time. There has been a shift in our thinking. In the past we would have felt satisfied with our destination. Today we are more aggressively aware and ready to change as innovation occurs.

We needed a better internet connection. A single ADSL line servicing our network was ineffective and we added two more lines. This we thought would be adequate. And it was for download, but suddenly upload was a growing necessity. This was a challenge for a small primary school with limited resources. In the end we managed to bring in a fibre optic connection which increased our upload capacity (10 up) as much as we can afford at the moment. The fibre does provide the possibility for us to massively increase capacity if we need to (and can afford to) in the future.

One of the other major by-products has been a shift amongst our students and teachers to “The Cloud” in a variety of ways. The DNA of iPads was a challenge to us when we started out. We were very “earth bound” by this I mean locally based. Everything was saved to our servers and that was where the data stayed to a large extent. The iPads are all about the mobility of data and this opens possibilities to share, flip, blend etc. Mobility of data between school, home or anywhere is a real shift for us and an exciting one for us to start to leverage. The sooner we can get away from those “earth bound” restrictions the better. Great too to escape the clumsy school server network and associated costs and failures. We haven’t quite escaped yet, but hope that we will one day soon. The iPad has certainly moved us substantially towards The Cloud through a host of options such as Dropbox, iCloud, Edmodo, Google Apps for Education, YouTube, Evernote etc.

Our attitude as educators and as students has changed. The niggling issues around ease of access, reliability, time, capacity and capability are greatly improved. As a result technology is enabled and possibilities are opened in classrooms. This has added another real dimension to our Professional Development. Teachers are more eager to learn, share and exchange ideas as they recognise the technology tool as an asset to their teaching rather than often seeing it as a liability. Suddenly too we are rethinking traditional learning spaces as we realise the need for flexibility.

The result of all of this has been a substantial shift in the way we are thinking about technology. It is becoming more of what it should be a simple and integral part of the school environment. Our iPad Program has opened our minds about the possibilities available and got us thinking actively about innovation to improve student outcomes and that’s so much more than just a great souvenir from our journey.

Reflecting On The Journey

Our school is a Primary school (K – 6). We embraced a 1:1 iPad roll out in 2013.

Powerful Transformative Learning: Ideas around Workflow, SAMR (http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/) and TPCK (http://www.tpack.org) can become a reality in a 1:1 iPad program.

A host of different applications are in play across classrooms. Our school hasn’t attempted to be prescriptive. Allowing a degree of freedom amongst teachers has opened possibilities and teachers are also offering students options which expand the learning opportunities to individualize and to differentiate. We have tried to tailor applications to class needs, however certain apps are staple across most grades including all the Apple Applications iMovie, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, GarageBand, also Book Creator, Creative Book Builder, Edmodo, Explain Everything, Puppet Pals and Visualize. The more “open ended” applications are the most useful providing greater scope to both teachers and students. Student-centred, authentic, project-based learning experiences are being enhanced and inspired by the application of iPads.​

The capability of delivering content quickly through iTunes U, Edmodo, Showbie and Evernote has made opportunities for blended learning and of flipping Classrooms a reality. Teachers are developing class blogs or arranging Skype links with classes in other countries and bringing experts virtually into the classrooms and into children’s homes to support learning

Teachers are also actively using iPads to augment their assessment of student progress. The capability of the iPad to record learning moments, collect, collate and report is impressive.​
Our library has developed an eBook collection and borrowing system which means that students can access digital books virtually on a range of devices. This has opened access for students and learning opportunities in our classrooms.

Curriculum
In Australia there has been substantial change with regard to the Curriculum. The new Australian National Curriculum is seeking to integrate technology across all strands of the Curriculum. Our provision of iPads to all students in years K to 6 has provided the capability to achieve this. Teachers are redesigning their teaching programs to reflect the integration of technology, and in particular the integration of iPads, as the New Curriculum is released. Our school has a Curriculum Coordinator helping to coordinate change. The process is very much a collaborative team effort.
The Australian Curriculum includes seven General Capabilities as can be seen in the diagram below ICT Capability is identified as one of the seven General Capabilities to be addressed across the Curriculum.

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© Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

Teacher Development
Our mission as educators, at our school, is to transform the potential technology offers to improve teaching and learning practices and ultimately, student outcomes.
The school has committed to developing a strong culture of learning aimed at developing learners for the 21st Century.
Our teachers have been actively involved in a comprehensive learning program. A Whole School approach was undertaken which targeted several key areas.
Differentiate teaching to meet specific needs of students across the full range of abilities.
Teachers undertook to complete a number of learning opportunities presented in an iTunes U Course and demonstrate differentiated strategies in programming of Curriculum including the use of technology to individualize and differentiate
Technology – Effective integration of iPads and other technology resources within the Curriculum.
Provision of an Apple Certified Educators (via external providers) to provide a structured mentoring program and workshops.
Crucially the school has continued to develop a Culture of Thinking (both amongst teachers and the students) where learning is more purposeful, deeper and more meaningful to students. ‘Thinking’ is an integral part of the learning process. Visible Thinking is tied strongly to our use of technology, Project Based Learning and broader Curriculum Outcomes. http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org
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Changing Spaces
The arrival of real mobile technology via the iPad has opened possibilities to change pedagogical practices. The way that classrooms are working is changing too. Escaping from traditional classrooms to more versatile spaces is another great by product of the iPad Program. Entering classrooms it is common to see children on floors, sitting in pairs, in clusters or just moving and doing, as well as working in traditional formations. What is clear is that spaces need to be able to accommodate many ways of learning and collaborating.
We are starting to think about how we can achieve this using existing structures, by adapting furniture, creating movable walls, using glass to open the environment, as well as reviewing timetables and student groupings. The school is engaging in a process to identify and plan, so that our existing and future buildings and spaces can be designed to accommodate for the changing needs of students, teachers, curriculum and the community.

iPad Impressions

Students started using iPads, as an integral part of their learning, in 2011. Teachers, students and parents embraced these simple, powerful devices. iPads have opened possibilities to really expand the learning opportunities of the students, particularly when teamed with excellent pedagogy.
In 2013 the School committed to providing iPads to all students from Year K to Year 6.

A number of surveys were conducted (late 2013) to gauge the attitudes of our school community to the program. This data provides important feedback about the iPad program and will be helpful in informing our approach in 2014.
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Survey of Parents

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Survey of Students
4 = Strongly Agree

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Survey of Teachers
4 = Strongly Agree

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A Wordle reflecting teacher impressions

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A GarageBand Experience

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Chris: Music Dept

You can listen to one of the student’s (Mia’s) compositions created with Chris her tutor using GarageBand http://youtu.be/Mv75kho5kAs

The aim of this brief article is to discuss the use of the Apple Ipad in my own music lessons, in particular the application called GarageBand. This isn’t intended as a ‘how to’ article but more a reflection on what I have learned so far. I will enter into a description of how these tools have assisted in the musical development of my students as well some thoughts on potential future use in both individual and group situations.

The accessibility of computer based technology in schools has been steadily evolving for several decades and in recent years these tools have spread throughout the curriculum to be applied in all learning areas. Once restricted to the computer lab, laptops and tablets are now becoming commonplace in all classrooms. The emergence of tactile (touch screen) controls and a growing emphasis on ease of use have allowed teachers and students to confidently utilise these hi tech tools in new and educationally powerful ways. Musicians and composers have traditionally been alert to technology. Their tools of trade (musical instruments) are highly sophisticated and engineered devices and any potential evolution in sound production is immediately explored by musical artists or instrument makers. Composers have always loved to explore any new sounds made available to them via technological developments, from Mozart and Hayden’s embrace of the fortepiano in the 18th Century, to John Cage’s fascination with the echo tape machine’s of the 1950’s.

Fascinating as the history is, however, my purpose here is to discuss the application of a particular device in the music tutorial room. The Apple Ipad is a famous and profoundly powerful tablet device which can be used in a seemingly infinite variety of ways. I wish to discuss the use of one application, GarageBand, in particular. GarageBand, to put simplistically, is an 8 track multi-track recording device. But it carries with it quite a bit more than that, such as effects editing, as well as a range of built in virtual instruments-all of which are extremely useful and will be discussed shortly. I must emphasise firstly though that what makes GarageBand so revolutionary in my opinion is its utter ease of use. Apple have had a great deal of success through the vision of its founder Steve Jobs, and one of his mantras has been to make technology for people who are not generally interested in technology. GarageBand is an excellent example of this. The lack of technical impediments for both the teacher and student as they go about creating a musical work is what makes the GarageBand application so practically useful. I will now give some examples of how my students have been able to use the application in a music lesson and what I perceive the benefits to be.

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The first step when a student is in a position to make a GarageBand track is to have both the tutor and student agree on which piece to attempt to record. This may well be the product of several lessons work and the student is now confident enough to move ahead with a recording which, in a very real sense, is a type of performance. There are many ways this can be approached, but the approach I tend to use is to record or ‘lay down’ a suitable drum track. This will often be the first 4-16 bars of music and can be thought of as the foundation of the piece. GarageBand makes this step easy by including a wide variety of excellent sounding drum patterns which can be put down as a track almost instantly. Depending on the situation, the next step may involve the recording of a rhythm track of bass, guitar or piano. This rhythm track may be a real instrument acoustically recorded using the built in microphone, or a ‘virtual instrument’ played on the Ipad itself, included in GarageBand. The student may be invited to play one of these tracks, even though it is not on their main instrument and is played on the device, as opposed to a proper instrument. As a tutor, I will make a decision about whether this is a valuable use of time in the lesson. Allow me to describe an example of when this decision was made in the affirmative in a recent lesson.

The situation was a guitar lesson where a student, Shannon, had learned a song with a repeating chord progression and a bass line was required underneath the guitar part. Bass lines are generally considered foundational when multi-track recording, so it is best to have them laid down before the guitar student records their part. I decided to allow Shannon to play the bass part on the Ipad itself as I felt that it presented a good rhythmic challenge and would also enhance his understanding of the music recording process. I will discuss the mechanics and musical benefits of this momentarily.
A word regarding the virtual instruments in GarageBand. These virtual instruments are laid out in the application itself and are highly intuitive to play and allow non-musicians to make excellent sounding recordings. They are no replacement for the real thing of course, but are incredibly useful in a multitude of contexts, including the instrumental tutorial.

My guitar student could have gained from playing the bass line on a real bass, most certainly, but our goal on the day was to record his guitar and vocal track in the 30 minutes available, and so the decision was made to play the virtual bass. The bulk of the lesson was then dedicated to Shannon playing his guitar part and then, if time, to try singing the vocal part. In this instance all the non drum parts for the first verse and chorus were successfully recorded by Shannon in that one lesson and the song was on its way. It is worth elucidating what the student may have learned from this experience.

The most immediate benefit for a student recording their instrument along with a drum track is that they have had to play their musical part in perfect time and rhythm. This itself is a big step and a not insignificant musical achievement. Closely following this concept is the insight gained by the student from hearing themselves play when they listen to their recording. This is possibly one of the most profound and exciting benefits I have perceived from using this recording tool. The student hears (for better or worse!) what that last take was like and whether it was acceptable. They hear whether it was too slow, fast, out of tune or containing wrong notes almost instantly, and they are able to discern this objectively and (fascinatingly) for themselves, as opposed to a teacher pronouncing judgement. And the student is almost always their own harshest critic. That said, they of course receive the joy of hearing themselves play something musically successful and gain enormous confidence from doing so. This should not be understated. It is a real achievement and the evidence is there for them to hear over and over again. The recording captures the moment of musical success and it is there to be shared with friends and family if so desired.

The use of time in any teaching situation is highly critical and using the Ipad in this way in a music lesson carries a number of risks. It is very important for the tutor to be as fluently conversant with the program as possible. Fortunately this goal is not too onerous as the program presents few significant technical challenges. It is generally a good idea for the student to record a song with which they are very familiar as the recording process throws the student into a performative mode and this often challenges her. Individuals respond to the mindset and scenario of recording differently and this is another important opportunity for learning. The pressure of ‘the take’ is real, and this teaches the student to prepare for the moment of musical truth, much as is required on stage, but more precisely as it is required in the studio. If things are not going well, and takes are not happening then it may be better to simply continue working on the musical elements as you would normally in a lesson. Confidence is king and assuredness will translate into strong musical moments that make up a good recording. Preparation, essentially, is very often the key to a good recording session. That said, with more advanced students it is possible to often throw together a piece that can become a surprisingly good recording. I will take this opportunity to outline how GarageBand can make a potentially ‘regular’ lesson fun and interesting, with students walking away (reluctantly) from the lesson with a proud smile on their face.

When a student has built up a good skill set, GarageBand can assist to make a lesson really special, even with the tutor and student working together on a relatively new piece. Recently a senior student of mine, Mia, was given a new duet to play. It is a funk rock melody involving various rhythmic and dynamic challenges. Normally a student learns part A (melody) and the tutor or another student will play part B (harmony). This is in itself a sound and worthwhile musical construction as the student is forced to play with their partner in correct rhythm with good intonation. But recording both parts on the Ipad allows the student to do this in a solo lesson which creates some very worthwhile learning. By recording Part A (along with a funky drum track) and then layering part B afterwards, the student is able to create both parts and is thus listening carefully to their own playing in two different ways simultaneously. The technology thus allows an exciting exploration of multi track recording in the music lesson space. In this particular recent lesson, the student was able to record the first portion of the two page piece and hear the results by the end of the lesson. The recording session thus created an added layer of excitement around learning the remainder of the piece, and I can report that the piece is now ready to be recorded in full, after only two lessons.

There is clearly much more that can be done with GarageBand in the music lesson environment, such as, for example, collaborative work done with small or large groups. The challenge for the music tutor is to choose carefully when to utilise the technology. There is, of course a great deal of technique and theory to impart to students through each term, so the timing of recording projects is important. Students will improve their ability to play in the recording mode the more they have the opportunity to do so. GarageBand is a powerful reward mechanism in many respects for students as well as a terrific teaching tool, and I look forward to integrating its use more fully into our music lessons in future.

Thanks Chris for these insights.

A Few Apps in Action in the Classroom – Part 1

Year 4 Novel Study (English / HSIE)

These examples relate to a Year 4 class doing a literature study. There is a range of activity occurring around using apps as tools in response to the novel – “Home to Mother” (an abridged version for younger readers) by Doris Pilkington Garimara. The apps and the range of activities, planned by the class teacher, provided for achievement at various levels of Blooms Taxonomy and of the SAMR model. Additionally the students had a scope of activities from which to choose.

Below is a brief overview of the sorts of choices being provided to the students.

Create a quiz based on the novel using a combination of short answer and multiple choice questions using the Socrative Teacher (app).

Use the Popplet (app) to create an argument plan for why readers should read the novel. Use this plan to create a Keynote (app) to persuade an audience to read the
novel. Present to the class.

Create a trailer using iMovie to bring out some key moments in the novel to entice viewers to watch a movie created about the novel.

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Use Comic Book (app) to recount the main events of the story in a seven box comic strip.

Use an online crossword maker to make a crossword using vocabulary from the novel. Save to Camera Roll and publish in Pages.

Imagine you are one of the main characters use Pages (app) written or iMovie (app) oral and visual (bring in pictures to support the oral work) to record a diary which reflects on the main events in the journey from your characters point of view.

Using the Pages (app) write your own beginning and your own end to the novel.

In Pages (app) create a table to compare Home with Mother with another book you have read recently. Your table should show the names of the books and the similarities and differences. Think about plot, characters and setting.

Year 5 Microorganisms (Science / English)

Our Year 5 students have been investigating microorganisms. The process has been supported and enhanced by an app called Creative Book Builder. Originally Year 5 had used Book Creator, but Creative Book Builder has greater capability for older Primary students enabling them to add not only pictures, video and text, but also has a more sophisticated editing and organisational capacity.

The students have used Creative Book Builder to record their investigations. They have recorded research on the topic, followed Scientific procedure to record experiments and their observations and conclusions. The portability of the iPad combined with camera capability really enables the students as they record experiments with yeast, mouldy bread etc. Students are observing and recording all over the place as they investigate a host of variables. My office fridge is currently home to a number of slices of mouldy bread.
The work is collaborative, engaging and exciting. The learning is rich – filled with process and real experiences.

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Year One (English – punctuation)

In Year One students are working with a couple of different apps and learning to apply punctuation.
In the first example they are using Comic Book and using exclamation marks.

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In the next example the students are using Popplet to apply their “camera words” and using question marks.

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Year Two (Languages – Hebrew)

In this example students were creating a poster on Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) using Visualise (Viz app) Note: in 2015 we replaced Viz with Pic Collage (app) as Viz no longer works in iOS 8. Pic Collage offers greater functionality and is stable. They sourced images using a safe browser K9 (app). They used the International keyboard set to Hebrew for the writing.

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Showcasing Again

This week we had a visit from a several educators who were interested to learn about our 1:1 iPad Program.
This group was from the NSW State Education System and it was great to be able to share our experience with them. I really love the idea of opening conversations amongst educators and systems. It is all reminiscent of “TeachMeets” which serve to open conversations amongst educators and across systems….so healthy for the whole system.
Below is the timetable for the visit which provides a great snapshot of the experience. I must add that all the activities were “normal”. We only ever showcase real work occurring across the school. What always strikes me is the richness of what is occurring and the strength of our teachers in leveraging the capability of iPads courtesy of excellent pedagogy. This is really at the heart of what we are doing and is what we emphasise when we share with others.

Tuesday – Visit Planner

9:00am meet Principal and ICT Coordinator
Walk around
9:10 year 6 Near Pod – Maths
9:20 infants – Year 1 Maths stations – Popplet
9:25 Year 2 reading groups re Cause and Effect – Explain Everything
9:35 Year 3 and 4 teachers (2 teachers) re Edmodo and classroom experience with iPads
9:45 Year 5 Creative Book Builder – 7 students sharing 1 on 1 with visitors -Science work on Micro Organisms. These are quite advanced and include multimedia and report on various experiments conducted by the students.
9:55 year 4 Comic Book – English re Punctuation (unfortunately missed this session due to time)
10:00 Year K and Year 6 (buddies) Scribble Press – writing / publishing
10:05 meet Librarian re eBooks, QR Codes, book trailers using iMovie
Curriculum Coordinator – Using iTunes U – Professional Development and delivering a differentiated course to students (in Library)
10:20 End

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Sharing the Journey – a Japanese visit

We recently hosted a visit, of several educators, from Japan. The Japanese visitors were visiting a number of schools across Australia to see technology implementation in education. This was a great opportunity for our teachers and students to showcase some of the excellent work that is occurring across the school. The visitors were particularly interested to learn about our K to Year 6 iPad Program.

The schedule below provides a snapshot of the experience provided to the visitors.
*10:00 – 10:30 Meeting with the Principal and Technology Coordinator – Regarding our iPad Journey
Meet the teachers – show and tell with Classroom Teachers
*10:30 Curriculum Coordinator – using Itunes U for Professional Development and to deliver content to students in classrooms
*10:35 Year 3 classroom teachers using Edmodo to connect home and school
*10: 40 Year 4 classroom teachers – hands on using Nearpod to structure a lesson
*10:50 Year 6 classroom teachers – Creating a project on Notable Australians using Creative Book Builder, using Explain Everything to provide feedback
Classroom walk around
*11:00 Year 3 – Presenting a Mathematics project using Book Creator
*11:15 Year 5 – using Creative Book Builder to record observations in Science (Micro Organisms)
*11:30 Year 1 and 2 – Popplet (on living things), Explain Everything (to record an explanation), Comic Book (using punctuation)
*11:50 Library – how eBooks are managed and delivered to students, using QR Codes as a library tool
*12:00 Concluding

The visit really provided an opportunity for teachers and students to demonstrate the great success of the 1:1 iPad program. It also reflected how much we have grown the learning and teaching model, regarding the integration of technology, since the implementation of our iPad program.

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Applying Apps to Learning Tasks – SAMR

The SAMR Model (Dr. Ruben Puentedura) provides a useful scaffold to consider how apps might be used to “Enhance” or “Transform” traditional learning activities.
Ref: Improving the Journey – SAMR https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/improving-the-journey-samr/
And here also: Transformation SAMR and Redefinition
https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/transformation-samr-and-redefinition/
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The first set of activities explores applying apps to “Enhance” learning. In the SAMR Model this refers to using technology to Substitute or Augment learning with technology. Here I am using a few activities in which students are responding to the Novel “Danny the Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl.

The second example set looks at the same activities again to consider how apps could be used to “Transform” learning i.e. Modify or Redefine the tasks (Re: SAMR Model).

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Please note: The app Viz (Visualise) no longer works correctly – instead suggest using Pic Collage.

Apps for the Journey

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I have been using an iPad for about two years and it is interesting to reflect on the apps that I use most actively myself.
One of the immediate realisations is that it really isn’t that many. I do have a load of apps on board, but often these are apps that I am trying out or are apps which are used very occasionally. Many apps end up lying dormant.

The Top 30 (my) most commonly used apps (in no particular order).

Safari
Mail
Camera Roll
Camera
Pages
Numbers
iMovie
Visualise
Zite
Flipboard
HootSuite
Twitter
Wordpress
Dropbox
Notes
Calendar
Evernote
iBooks
Kindle
The Weather Channel
Music
Cloudon
YouTube
Maps
Qrafter Pro
Google Drive
App Store
Calculator
Flixter
iTunes U

The posts below identify some apps that I think are useful in the classroom.
A Few Favourite Apps | Learning Journey
https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/a-few-favourite-apps/

An App Journey | Learning Journey
https://rhp123.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/an-app-journey/