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Educational App Reviews (Touch and iPad)

Page history last edited by malloydo 13 years, 11 months ago

(Gillispie - Here are apps that we have used.  Please, feel free to add your own using the format below.  If you have ideas on classroom use or want to share notes based on your experiences with a particular app, add that to the note section for that app.)



iBooks for iPad


Description:  This is Apple's official eBook reader that allows access to their official bookstore.  eBooks using this reader can have font size adjusted to accommodate those with visual disabilities.  It allows a reader to highlight and bookmark sections of the book.  There's a built-in dictionary that will define highlighted words.  Page turning is either by tapping or sliding (to simulate actual page-turning).


Applications in the Classroom:  This application may potentially impact the textbook market in a big way.  In the future, we could possibly see books with integrated multimedia?  Perhaps.  Certainly, this is an excellent and cost-effective application for getting public domain books (classics, perhaps) to students (see note).


Price:  Free  (Some books are not, however.)


Notes:  This application allows free access to the 30,000+ titles available from Project Gutenberg!  


(5/3/2010) - Also, it seems that an eBook purchased through iBooks can be synced to all devices associated with that account.


Link:  iBooks in the App Store


Games With Educational Application




Description:  In this game, based on Will Wright's successful SIMS franchise, the player creates a virtual person, or SIM, and then helps that person live out their virtual life.  Your SIM can get a job, has hobbies, and even personality quirks that emerge when interacting with other SIMS.


Applications in the Classroom:  This has great potential for digital storytelling.  We have used this game to encourage students to consider others' points-of-view and as a foundation for creative writing.  We used it to create comics in conjunction with the Strip Designer app.  It also has some potential in sociology, for example, consider the Nickel and Dimed Challenge based on Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.  


Price: $6.99 (as of 2/2010)


Notes: The game is rated 12+.


Link:  SIMS  3 in the App Store



Civilization Revolution:


Description:  This game is based on game designer, Sid Meier's, popular Civilization series.  Players assume the role of a historic leader and lead their civilization from very primitive early stages to the modern age.  While doing so, they will engage in diplomacy with neighboring cultures, develop science and technology, monitor their economy and culture, and engage in warfare with other civilizations.


Applications in the Classroom:  This game provides a great foundation for encouraging students to research historical leaders, events, and developments.  We have used it as a foundation for creative writing (such as journaling from a leader's point of view).  You could also discuss (and experiment) with historical events and "what-if" scenarios that could deepen students' understanding of historical events.


Price: $6.99 (as of 2/2010)


Notes: The game is rated 12+.


Link:  Civilization Revolution in the App Store



Spore Origins:


Description:  This App is based on the popular Spore series designed by Will Wright.  In this game, the player begins as a basic aquatic life form and develops adaptations that increase its survivability.  Your custom-designed creature might have extra eyes or powerful mandibles for eating smaller organisms.


Applications in the Classroom:  This game is somewhat beneficial for getting students to think about biological adaptations and survival of the fittest, though, as a player, you are clearly directing the flow of the game.  It has been useful to us as a starting point for writing project in language arts that are interdisciplinary.


Price: $1.99 (as of 2/2010)


Notes:  This game is rated 4+.  We don't recommend using this game for teaching strict biological concepts, but with guidance, it is good for overview and can allow for generalization.  It may be a great starting point for conversations comparing game play to actual biological phenomena.


"Eat the small things and stay away from the big things..." - Craig Lawson


Link:  Spore: Origins in the App Store




Description:  How many words can you spell from a random assortment of letters?  This fast-paced game allows you to hone your word skills solo or playing against another player on your network.


Applications in the Classroom:  We've used this App as a great way to engage students at the beginning or end of a class period.  It is ideal for getting students to think about their vocabulary and spelling.  The competition over WiFi is a very motivating factor for students.


Price: $0.99 (as of 2/2010)


Notes:  The competitive WiFi play is hit-or-miss on our network.  Occasionally students will disconnect from their game sessions.  Also, to "submit" a word during game play, you make a chopping motion with your iPod Touch.  Be sure students have a tight grip while playing!


Link:  Word Fu App in the App Store



Image Creation/Manipulation:


Photogene for iPad


Description:  This is a fairly robust image-editing application.  Images taken from the Photo App can be cropped, resized, and flipped.  A variety of filters including reflections, grayscale, 70's vintage, and more can be applied to create unique looks.  You can also apply custom filters to your images as well.  Photo enhancements such as sharpening, posterizing, and heat mapping can be applied.  Custom exposure, contrasts, saturations and more can be applied to your images as well.  A variety of speech bubbles and other annotations can be added to your images as well as custom framing.


Applications in the Classroom:  This application would be a great way for students to manipulate their images (either collected from web sources or a digital camera) before adding them to a report or web site.  Basic digital photo editing could also be explored.


Price:  $3.99 (as of 5/3/2010)


Notes:  The interface is intuitive and easy to use.  Images can be uploaded from the app directly to Twitter, Facebook, or via email.


Link:  Photogene for iPad in the App Store




Description:  A great app for creating quick graphic organizers.  Integrate images, text, and boxes/bubbles to represent your thoughts.


Applications in the Classroom:  This application is fairly straightforward and simple to use.  We've used it as a tool for creating small, graphic organizers.


Price: $1.99 (as of 2/2010)


Notes:  Save the images and email them from the device to the teacher or post them to a wiki.  Easy assignment collection!


LinkSketches in the App Store


Language Arts




 Description : Digital storybook creation for the iPod touch and iPad. Allows for inputing text, drawings, pictures, and even voice recording.



Price: FREE


Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storykit/id329374595?mt=8 



Strip Designer:


Description:  Design your own comic panels using your own images or screenshots taken with the iPod Touch.  Arrange the order, add speech bubbles, and even email them or post them to a website.


Applications in the Classroom: Two words:  digital storytelling.  This application is incredibly easy to use and allows students to utilize images stored on their iPod Touch (such as screenshots) and use them to create nice-looking comic panels.  This can be an engaging way to get students to begin writing creatively.


Price: $2.99 (as of 2/2010)


Notes:  Save the images and email them from the device to the teacher or post them to a wiki.  Easy assignment collection!  

(5-3-2010) - This is now a "universal" app that works on the iPad as well.  The extra screen size makes comic creation very easy.


LinkStrip Designer in the App Store





Calculator XL for iPad:


Description:  A basic add, subtract, multiply and divide calculator.


Applications in the Classroom:  Replaces the basic calculator found on the Touch and iPhone (except for scientific functions).


Price:  Free (as of 5/3/2010)




Link:  Calculator XL in the App Store





Gray's Anatomy - Premium for iPad 


Description:  Essentially, this app is the entire text and all of the illustrations from the classic, Gray's Anatomy text.


Applications in the Classroom:  A good reference app for upper-level biology or anatomy/physiology courses.  Searchable.


Price:  $4.99 (as of 5/3/2010)


Notes:  Some illustrations aren't appropriate for younger learners.  Essentially, this is a (slightly) interactive version of the original text.

(5/3/2010) -  It has been on sale for as low as $0.99.


Link:  Gray's Anatomy-Premium in the App Store



iBird Yard for iPad


Description:  This app is essentially a portable, multimedia field guide to common North American birds.  A drill-down identification system makes identifying birds simple, allowing you to identify by major/minor coloration, size, shape, location, bill shape and more.  The app features several artistic paintings as well as photographs of the birds. If Wi-Fi is available, additional photographic data is imported from Flickr.  Audio of the bird's call can be played/looped.  External links are provided for each species to Wikipedia.  Side-by-side comparisons of bird species can also be made in a table format.  Birds can be bookmarked/"favorited," and pages from the app can be emailed.


Applications in the Classroom:  Take those iPads outdoors!  This app would be a perfect integration of technology in the natural sciences.  It would be an excellent reference for outdoor bird feeder projects.


Price:  $4.99 (as of  5/3/2010)


Notes:  A great field-guide, database-driven application.


Link:  iBird Yard in the App Store


iQuakeLite for iPad


Description:  This simple app takes real-time earthquake data from the web and meshes it with Google Maps.  Data about recent quakes can be accessed either through a list form or by simply tapping the quake locations on the map.  The date of the earthquake affects the coloration of the spots on the map with red being the most recent and yellow indicating an older quake.


Applications in the Classroom:  This app would be a great supplement to any study of geologic activity.  Students could monitor, collect data, and graph data.  Connections with geography and current events would also be a benefit.


Price:  Free (as of 5/3/2010)


Notes:  A paid version of the app allows for sorting by magnitude/date as well as push notifications.


Link:  iQuakeLite in the App Store


Mild EleMints 2:  Free Periodic Table for iPad


Description:  A basic, reference periodic table.  Zooming in on any elements provides electron configurations, mass, and more.  Tapping an element provides a link to the Wikipedia article for that element.


Applications in the Classroom:  This is a handy reference app with links to Wikipedia for additional research.  It would be a good starting point for research projects.


Price:  Free (as of 5/3/2010)




Link:  Mild EleMints 2:  Free Periodic Table in the App Store


Molecules for iPad (and iPod Touch)


Description:  This app provides 3-D models of a wide variety of molecules.  A few, such as DNA, come pre-loaded, but additional molecules can be downloaded from free, online databases.  Molecules can be displayed in ball-stick, spacefilling, and cylinder formats.  They then can be zoomed in on and spun in all axes.


Applications in the Classroom:  This app would be a great, hands-on way of helping students to visualize molecular structures, especially DNA.


Price:  Free (as of 5/3/2010)


Notes:  The interface is very easy to use, however, searching the provided database is fairly science-intensive.  It is possible to add other database sources (for inorganic molecules, for example) and the developer seems very responsive to the user community on the official site.

(5/3/2010) - This app is also available for the iPod Touch!


Link:  Molecules for iPad in the App Store


Star Walk for iPad


Description:  This is a fantastic app that invites students to explore the heavens in an easy and intuitive way.  Students can research real-time data about stars and planets.  The app capitalizes on the iPad's built-in digital compass and motion sensor allowing the user to hold it above head to identify celestial objects.


Applications in the Classroom:  1.  Visually appealing astronomy research.   2.  An excellent conceptual tool for helping students understand things like planetary motion, deep space objects, seasonal changes in the sky and more.


Price:  $4.99 (as of 4/9/2010)


Notes:  This is one of those apps, that at launch, really showcases the iPad's educational value.


Link:  Star Walk for iPad in the App Store



Social Studies


Constitution for iPad (also available for iPod Touch)


Description:  A basic version of the U.S. Constitution divided by the various sections.  Includes notes on each section as well.


Applications in the Classroom:  Simple document reference application.


Price:  Free (as of 5/3/2010)


Notes:  Does not include searchable text which would be nice.  External linking to sites such as Wikipedia would be a plus as well.


Link:  Constitution for iPad in the App Store


MyCongress for iPad


Description:  This application is a research and reference application providing information on all current members of the U.S. Congress.  Background information is provided for each as well as recent news from the Internet, links to videos from their YouTube Channel, and recent updates for their Twitter feed (as available).  Additionally, links to their website along with phone and fax numbers are provided.


Applications in the Classroom:  This would be a great starting point for encouraging students to be active in our democracy.  They could select their representatives from the side list, research them, and even contact them regarding upcoming legislation.


Price:  Free (as of 5/3/2010)




Link:  MyCongress for iPad in the App Store


World Book - This Day in History for iPad


Description:  This application gives you a handful of historic events that occurred on the current day (or any day you choose) in history.  Important figures/events can be explored for additional information.


Applications in the Classroom:  Simple history reference application.  Could be a starting point for additional research, though it would be nice if the important figures/events were linked to Wikipedia.


Price:  Free (as of 5/3/2010)


Notes:  Elegant and easy to use interface.


Link:  This Day in the App Store


World Fact Book for iPad (and iPod Touch)


Description:  This application provides a wealth of information on over 250 countries in the world.  Maps and the country's flag are available within the app.  In addition, data on geography, demographic data, government, economy, infrastructure, and more are provided.  Much of the data is cross-referenced in tables showing where the nation ranks among others for data such as infant mortality or the availability of Internet.  Definitions of the data categories is also provided.


Applications in the Classroom:  This application would be an excellent resource and reference for geographic/demographic studies and global awareness.


Price:  $1.99 (as of 5/3/2010)


Notes:  Would be nice if external links were provided.  Each country's page shows a "last updated" notation indicating that the data is updated.

(5/3/2010) - This application is also available for iPod Touch!


Link:  World Fact Book for iPad in the App Store




Dropbox for iPod and iPad:


Description:  Easy way to sync files and share files online and across computer


Applications in the Classroom:  This application provides up to two GB of free storage online. Students can complete assignments in notes or other applications and submit them to a file on the dropbox. Students can also receive information or files easily from the teacher without having to sync.


Price: Free




Discovery Channel

By Discovery Channel



With the Discovery Channel application you get new videos, daily news stories, quizzes, photos, TV schedules and more.

Highlighted features:
* Videos – Clips from Discovery Channel shows like MythBusters, Deadliest Catch, Man vs. Wild and more...
* Shows – Dig behind the scenes with info about your favorite shows and cast members!
* News – Discovery’s news bureau delivers highlights from events and the world around us.
* Photo Galleries – Features images from space, nature, extreme weather, animals and your favorite Discovery cast members.
* TV Schedule – Find out what’s on Discovery Channel!
* Quizzes – Test your knowledge on Discovery Channel programming and topics from around the planet.


Applications in the Classroom: You can find great science videos from Myth Busters and excellent videos such as Shark Week, etc. Worth looking into. You would not want to download all content, but certainly worth picking and choosing depending on your subject matter.
You can get full length episodes at the touch of a button absolutely free.

Cost: Free

Link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/discovery-channel/id325058491?mt=8#

External Links

Learning Continuity Site- 210 Apps, many free


Escondido Union School District - Sortable App List - by subject/grade level


Apple in Education list - By function or subject


IEAR (I Education Apps Review) - Classified by level; tagged by subject, function, type


Why an iPod Touch in the Classroom? - Links with lists of apps and more

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