Second only to Explain Everything in our imaginary 'Best Apps' list. Socrative is an app/program for creating quizzes, questionnaires & assessments for students that can be shared and analysed instantly. It takes a little while to understand quite how it works and how it might be useful, but once you 'get it', you'll see how powerful it can be for learning.
Socrative works on computers, iPads - in fact any Internet-enabled device. This means that you could design a quiz on a laptop (via the Socrative website teacher login) for students to answer on their iPads or laptops in school or on any device at home.
Here's how to create a quiz:
- Open the Teacher version of Socrative on the iPad and sign in. (There are Teacher and Student versions).
- Create your own personal account (it's free)
- Click Manage Quizzes|Create Quiz
- Give the quiz a name and make a note of the SOC number. You'll need this code if you share a quiz with another teacher.
- Decide on multiple choice, true/false or short answer format for the first question. Type the question and the correct answer, along with an explanation of the answer if need be.
- Continue with other questions. Save & Exit when you've finished. The SOC number will allow your students to access the quiz from their Socrative login.
Once you've created a quiz, you need to decide how you'd like your students to access it. (You can also import and edit quizzes from other teachers - you just need the SOC number to import it). You've three options:
- Start a Quiz where students answer the questions you've set
- Space Race, where students answer questions and correct answers are aggregated in a visual race across the screen between spaceships
- Quick Question - where you can create questions on-the-fly (ask the class verbally, say) and get immediate feedback on screen. This is useful if you don't want to go through the rigmarole of creating a set of questions beforehand or you want to be responsive to students' previous answers with your questions.
For students to take the quiz (in the manner you've set):
- Open Socrative Student Edition on the iPad or via the Socrative website.
- Write the teacher's 'room'
- Student enters own name.
- Note that only one quiz is active at any one time (which is the disadvantage of all staff in school using the generic account).
- Students answer the quiz in the manner you've set.
If you've got Socrative Teacher edition open on the iPad or the class whiteboard, the students' answers for each of the questions, you can view every student's answers and get an average for the whole class. You can download these responses for the whole class, individual students or by question. You can see from this how powerful Socrative could be for immediate assessment and why it's #2 on that imaginary 'Best App' list!
Schools could also use Socrative with parents to get their views in surveys/polls at parent presentations, on their mobile phones in the playground or in parent-assemblies.
We've been reliably informed that Kahoot does the same thing as Socrative... but better. Watch this space for a review.
iPad's version of Word/Publisher. Create new documents from scratch or use a template.
Use for note-making & creating written documents. Use as an alternative to Word or Publisher to give students experience of other programs/apps.
Handwriting/note-making app where students can write on lined or squared paper, and draw or add images to the document.
Pinch-out the document to enlarge the screen and begin writing; the app will scroll up as you write or you can anchor it to keep it in place. There are fine-point iPad screen styluses (pens) available, but for school use they're not really suitable as they can scratch the screen and are easily damaged themselves.
Export the resulting notes to the iPad's internal camera roll.
Use for handwriting practice, note making and annotating work/photos. If you want to do this, I'd recommend other apps such as Pages, Keynote, Notes, iBrainstorm or Explain Everything rather than Penultimate. What's good about Penultimate above the other note-making apps is the lines and grids.
Chrome, Safari & Puffin browsers
A browser is an app/program that allows you to access the Internet. Most people use Internet Explorer but there are lots of alternatives available. Apple's preferred browser is Safari and it works pretty well; Chrome is Google's alternative, tends to be faster and have fewer 'snags' than IE or Safari.
One of the main snags with iPads is that they don't support Flash content. Flash is an add-on to web content that allows for animation, interactivity, etc and lots of games (including Education City) are built on it. There's been a long-running clash between Apple and Flash since Apple don't think Flash is up to much and don't design their devices to cope with it. What this means in practice is that Flash content either doesn't work or doesn't work that well on iPads.
But there is a solution... Puffin browser is an Internet browser just like the others, but it's been designed to be more Flash-friendly. That's why Education City recommend using Puffin when using Education City on iPads. There are lots of other iPad browsers that attempt to do the same, but Puffin is the best overall in our opinion.
Simple corkboard app where students can write & stick Post-Its & draw/write notes on the board itself. There's functionality to share the board via Bluetooth (short-range wireless between iPads/phones) so students could collaborate on the same document from different iPads. Export is to the iPad's camera roll or email to class email. A simpler version of Keynote & Explain Everything.
Use for note-making, brainstorming, planning & collaboration.
App version of PowerPoint. To save, email it or open in another app (e.g. Explain Everything) to work on it some more.
Use as an alternative to PowerPoint (note the NC Computing element 'select, use and combine a variety of software' - meaning that students need to choose appropriate software - not just the one put in front of them - and transfer documents between different applications to use the features of different apps/programs).
A puzzle-making app for teachers to create drag & drop puzzles for students. There are sample puzzles on parts of speech, the water cycle, the planets and ordering decimals as examples. Video tutorials are here. The app is limited a bit by being tied to DropBox, Google Drive or WebDAV (online storage sites) - you can't export to email as you can with many other apps - hopefully this will come with later app updates.
Use to create drag & drop visual puzzles for children as practise or assessment.
This is potentially one of the most useful apps on the iPad. It's a writing/presentation app that does what Smartboard software does on interactive whiteboards that can be used by teachers or students. But it goes beyond that: you can set Explain Everything to record what appears on screen, plus record a voice commentary at the time or afterwards. This allows teachers easily to create dynamic presentations for students that are more like movies and less like PowerPoint static presentations. It also allows students to record their work and add a commentary to it later - 'this is what I was thinking at this point' or 'I've done this because'. So in terms of the interactivity of presentations and the ability to assess students' thinking in depth, it's an incredibly powerful app.
Watch the video tutorials here (these are also available via the app itself).
Use it all the time for your own presentations (you can put it under a visualiser to show on a whiteboard or if you're likely to be using it a lot, Apple Air is a wireless adapter that will ping what's on your iPad to the whiteboard screen). Use it where you want students to explain the thinking behind a task or for them to create tutorials for other children - video (iMovie) could be used in the same way too.
An absolutely brilliant app. Very simple to use and surprisingly accurate in recognising speech. Where you have students whose writing or typing rate is low, this app could significantly increase their workrate. Clearly they'd need some training and practise in using it first - and if they use the same iPad regularly, it'll improve (the already good) accuracy significantly, since Dragon learns your pronunciation as it goes along. Students need to include punctuation in their dictation as Dictate doesn't add it automatically, and they can't have their text read back to them afterwards (as some dictation software does). If Dictate mishears, they can click the error word and re-record it or change it via the keyboard - although spelling might be a barrier for editing.
Just in terms of the dictation disturbing other students or being disturbed by noise from other students, the app may need to be used away from others to be used effectively. The dictation file is automatically stored as a Note on the iPad and notes can be emailed.
Click here for a guide to using Dictate plus a lesson plan for introducing it into the classroom.
Use routinely with students whose writing or typing rate is low or who are unable to use a pen or keyboard easily.
BBC iPlayer & iPlayer Radio
Just like the old days watching schools TV on Betamax videos that the school secretary indexed on ! Individual or groups of students can watch BBC TV or listen to BBC radio programmes. Great for showing whole programmes or just clips. iPlayers usually let you go back about two weeks but this depends on the programme. Both TV and Radio iPlayers have a category view (most educational programmes are on CBBC, BBC2 and BBC4); with the radio version, you need to turn the iPad to portrait view to find it. You can download programmes to individual iPads but the programme is deleted after a time, so you might as well watch/listen directly from the iPlayer. The BBC schools page is good for providing (ideas for) follow up activities and interactive games for educational programmes - there's also a termly planner for schools TV programmes.
Use for reinforcement of content in science, music, history, etc. Use for visual/audio prompts or reinforcement in English. Good for engagement, particularly of visual/auditory learners but be careful that you're using them as a tool to support learning and that there's an interactive activity related to the content that forces students to process the information for themselves - don't sit them in front of it & ask them to make notes.
Edit movies, photos & audio created with iPad. There are half a dozen templates, including news report templates for students to slot visual/audio content into the movie. Click the question mark icon at any stage for an explanation of the different features. Add existing movies on the iPad to the iMovie project or record the content as you go along. So you might have some pre-recorded video that you drag into the movie timeline, then you create some pictures, audio or additional video to supplement that recorded content.
As with Comic Life, you need to ensure that students are engaged in the objective at hand and that you're very clear about what you want them to learn, using iMovie as a tool; otherwise the tool becomes the focus of the learning and they're just feature-faffing. If you're likely to be using iMovie a lot in lessons to support literacy skills, it's helpful to give some initial training in the app itself so that the long-term learning focus is on the chosen literacy objective rather than on using iMovie. The goal is for the use of the tool to become transparent in the same way that students would naturally use a pen or Word.
The main problem with iMovie on the iPad is getting content off and on again as iPads are designed as stand-alone units which interact with the web rather than a network. You can save the completed movie to the iPad's internal camera roll but it still stays on that particular iPad unless it's transferred to a Mac, where it's a bit more flexible in terms of sharing with PCs and the Internet. Alternatively, students could email it - however, only small-sized videos can be emailed. Other options are posting to Facebook, YouTube or Vimeo, but they're not really options in terms of security and safeguarding for children's use.
Use with students to edit video, create their own educational tutorials or to audio-comment on their work to explain the thinking behind it.