As a school librarian, I thought I would be teaching about books and research, but my job has morphed into an experiment in emerging technologies, especially with iPads and eReaders. In addition to my more traditional duties, I spend my days searching for educational apps that will help my students learn, engage them in reading, and teach them emerging 21st century skills.
I love it though. I’m a convert. An interactive advocate. Nothing excites me more than an app that is beautifully designed, easy to use and cheap. Still I understand how educators who are just trying to keep up with the every day business of teaching can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of educational apps that are available and need help finding good ones for classroom use.
There’s not an app for that, yet, but there are some great places you can look for information and reviews. Start with the Apple in Education website, eSchool News or Next Web. Also, check out iPad Insight, a site that reviews apps, Know Your Apps, and Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.
Here are a few of my favorite apps that I can recommend wholeheartedly, many of which are free.
- Alice for the iPad ($8.99)
- The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore ($4.99)
- Bartleby’s Book of Buttons, Volume 2 ($2.99)
These must be purchased in the App store, not the iBook store. They are all beautifully illustrated and designed, and can be read silently or listened to audibly while the words appear on the screen.
- Scientific Graphing Calculator ($2.99)
For high school students, this app has an extensive math keyboard with large keys, as well as capabilities in calculating and graphing, including triangle and polynomial solving. It covers all math subjects taught in high school from algebra to vector calculus, classical mechanics and even physics.
Gorgeous, high resolution images, reliable data and information, and authoritative sources — National Science Foundation, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Columbia University and University of Maryland, Smithsonian Institution — make these all standouts.
- Frog Dissection ($3.99), Emantras, Inc.
This app is colorful, highly detailed, and uses accurate images. It includes information, videos, and quizzes.
- Wordflex Touch Dictionary ($11.99)
Developed in association with Oxford University Press, this app features a combined dictionary and thesaurus.
Count on these apps for information on educational programming and newsworthy topics, and video and audio materials.
National Geographic’s app provides high resolution images, includes history and current information, and gives GPS coordinates and current temperature.
- Khan Academy (free)
Khan includes several subject areas including test prep.
- Life (free)
Life contains high resolution magazine images, as well as historic photographs with titles and captions.
By Susan Rideway, Wooster Education Association