Sunday, November 18, 2012

iPad: A Creative App Combo for Learning

Using iPads with students? Consider this... If you do nothing else with your iPads, may I suggest Explain Everything and iMovie (or similar apps).

Let me explain...

iMovie ($5.99) is the classic, intuitive editor by Apple. In the iPad form it allows for bringing together multiple video clips created on the iPad along with:
  • Microphone input (narration, sound FX, original music recordings, etc.)
  • Video recording (talk to your audience directly, record a skit, record anything!)
  • Insert photos
  • Insert sounds
  • Add text to any of the above
  • Add transitions to make it all smooth
  • Export the final product as a self-contained video and upload or email it

Explain Everything ($2.99) is a whiteboard app, and what I would consider the best on the market to date. While similar apps are free, this one may offer enough options to make it worth your venture. Highlights include (features set for upcoming December release are in green):
  • Record a video presentation one slide at a time
  • Insert photos, drawings and images from any of several sources
  • Insert a movie (to create a commentary and mark up with drawings)
  • Timeline editor
  • Download final product as a movie (then import to iMovie for further editing)
  • Use a 'laser' pointer
  • Export individual screen shots as images or PDF
  • Connect with Dropbox, Evernote, Box, Drive, and many other apps
  • And so many more features

(jump to about 1:30 to start seeing a demonstration of the features)

These two tools should be in the hands of students (and teachers) at all ages. They should be helping students harness their intrinsic motivation to learn and show-off what they know. Students engaged in this type of learning are going well beyond consumption. They are synthesizing knowledge, creating, developing 21st century skills, and most importantly, they are engaged in their education.

So what could you do with these tools? (enter raffle for free EE Compressor or EE)

  • Keep it simple and explain how to do something, math, science, etc
  • Use a map image and create a photo tour in history or literature
  • Create a video presentation with questions left open ended for audience interaction
  • Book reports
  • Flipped lessons
  • Students can film and analyze each other doing tasks
  • Create and edit skits
  • Whatever your heart desires

As I prepared to demonstrate these tools to a class of 8-10 year olds, I tested the process on my daughter. It was clearly one of the most challenging things I had ever asked her to do on the iPad. This was not a simple, press a button to get positive feedback type of adventure. At first, she struggled to make the transition into this type of creating.

Even though she was frustrated, she was fully engaged. She had no interest in stopping. After helping her through a slide, she then made a second slide all on her own. These slides are not like PowerPoint or Keynote. They are dynamic. She is creating an experience for herself and for those she shares with. We stopped after two slides (though she is ready to do more!) Then I helped her move the outputted movies into iMovie for some light touchup and to add a couple of sound effects (she loves this part :) and then sent it to YouTube.

What excites me is not what she and I created, it is the thought of what teachers and students around the world will create when these tools are in their hands. If you are one of these teachers, please give this a try and let me know what you create! Post links and comments in the comment section so others can gain from your experience.

 Compressor for Explain Everything - $14.99 (helps compress movies via Mac)

Win your own copy of Explain Everything or Compressor for Explain Everything! Enter here. (Generously provided by the makers of Explain Everything.)

Chad McGowan is a high school technology teacher and professional development specialist in technology. Over the past 16 years, Chad has taught a variety of math and computer course from 7-12. Since 2000, Chad has been guiding other professionals in technology by staying current and learning from those around him. Follow Chad on Twitter @ahstechteacher and through this blog.

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