With all the education apps available on the market, how do you sort the worthwhile from the useless? The best apps for instructors make life easier and help you better utilize technology in the classroom. As you’re heading back to school this fall, take a peek at some of the most recommended apps to help you organize your course materials and be able to access your resources from anywhere–so if you want to meet an advisee at a local coffee shop, you won’t miss the computer in your office.
In Those Who Can, Teach, 14e, Kevin Ryan, James M. Cooper, and Cheryl Mason Bolick noted that most teachers are familiar with apps in their personal lives: “You use a cloud server to save your photos, social media sites to communicate, and you may use a mobile app to give you driving directions when going somewhere new.” These are productivity tools: “they let you accomplish tasks more efficiently than if you had to use a disk, email software, or a paper map.” (Ryan, et. al., 191)
Just like productivity tools can make life easier outside of the classroom, a number can be useful for course organization. You can use apps for collaborating with your students or tracking their progress:
- Edmodo is a collaboration software available for Android and iOS that continues conversations outside of the classroom; you can post assignments, create groups, use a built in gradebook, and share files and videos. While created for pre-collegiate education, many of the functions can be useful at the college level, and some students may start your course already familiar with the app from high school.
- eBackpack, also available for Android and iOS, is another collaboration device that allows you to share information and assignments with your students, as well as grade and annotate work they’ve turned in. There are additional discussion and chat features you can use or encourage your students to use for study groups.
- Remind101 lets you send out a notice to your students via a one-way text or e-mail, meaning they’ll get your notice about an upcoming quiz, but if they want to ask you questions, they’ll have to send them the traditional, non-text way. Available for Android and iOS.
Other types of tools allow you to give your students better access to in-class presentations. If you teach a heavily lecture- or discussion-driven course, creating your own content for students to revisit and study could reinforce your teaching. Educreations (iOS only) is essentially a video tutorial version of a whiteboard, so you can create a presentation with an audio narrative that takes them through the type of visuals you create in front of the classroom.
What if you need access to your course books when you’re out of the office, or want to remember to highlight some text while you’re in the grocery store? You can use VitalSource Bookshelf to keep your textbooks available across your devices with a single login. The app is compatible with everything from a Windows desktop to a Kindle Fire.
And as the semester progresses, you may want to look into the “Top 10 Free Plagiarism Detection Tools for Teachers” recommended on eLearning Industry.
What apps make your life easier? Tell us in the comments.
Reference: Ryan, Kevin. 2016. Those Who Can, Teach, 14th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.