As educators, we often focus more on how devices such as iPads can be used in the hands of students to facilitate learning. If we’re not careful, we might only consider learning outcomes for our students and miss the wealth of information that can make the iPad a powerful learning tool for teachers too.
In today’s post I would like to explore 5 apps that are powerful tools for teachers to use to help develop and grow as learners using the iPad.
- iTunes U – If you have never experienced the power of iTunes U, this would be a great time to check it out. iTunes U is a service provided by Apple that allows instructors to share online course content. Not only are university courses available but now K-12 schools have been added to the list of participants. Check out this link for more info about iTunes U and how you may be able to use it. With iTunes U, you can access and find courses on the desktop or via the iTunes U app on the iPad. Through iTunes U, teachers can come in contact with high level, high quality education courses offered by universities across the country. Ever wanted to learn to write your own app? Check out the Stanford app design class. Ever wanted to study at Harvard? You can with iTunes U. Download the app or search the iTunes store on your computer today and see what you might want to learn.
- Flipboard – Flipboard is an app for iOS that turns your social networks and online presence into a personal magazine. With Flipboard, you can connect Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, YouTube, New York Times, Financial Times, LinkedIn, Flickr, and a few others. Once you connect one or more of these accounts, Flipboard takes the content and presents it to you in a magazine format that you can flip through and read. If someone posts a picture or a link, Flipboard will display that photo or article info for you. Another fun feature is that as you are viewing, you can Like, Favorite, Retweet, etc. Most of the features in your social network will be available to you in Flipboard. The power for educators comes from the fact that you can create magazines of content that you might want to save. I have a magazine of some of my favorite twitter hashtags like: #edapp, #ipaded, #ettipad, #evscrev13, #kinderchat, and #INelearn. In addition to hashtags, you can also keep a magazine of people you are following, liking, etc. I learn daily from the resources I discover in Flipboard.
- Google Hangouts/Skype – With a free Google account or free Skype account, a teacher now has access to learn with any teacher anywhere in the world. I can definitely see staff who may be the solitary teacher in a subject area benefit greatly from this tool. Imagine having the ability to collaborate with another teacher in another school or district to gather ideas for improving your classroom skills.
- Diigo -Diigo is a social bookmarking site that allows you save and share websites and resources with others. It’s a great way to hold all of your favorite web bookmarks. A team of teachers can create a Diigo group and share common web resources to their Diigo group. Another great feature of Diigo is the ability to annotate and leave notes on a website with those you share a web resource. With the Diigo app, you can view websites that you have been collecting or keeping to view later. You can also bookmark websites from the iPad and share them to your group or Diigo app with the instructions here. The Diigo Browser is another app that allows you to browse the internet and bookmark more easily than using the bookmarklet in Safari on your iPad.
- Podcasts – Much like the iTunes U service, podcasts are another powerful way to learn from other educators or experts on a topic. A podcast is an audio (sometimes video) show on a topic. Many times a podcast resembles listening to a radio show on a topic. Podcasts can be short or long and cover almost any topic. Apple has a podcast app called Podcasts or there are other apps such as Downcast, and Stitcher. Searching the education categories in a podcast app will lead you to a number of shows on a variety of educational topics. Podcasts are also a great way to aide in personal learning and discovery of topics that may not be directly applicable to the classroom. Try a podcast today and see what you can learn.
I hope you will take a moment to try out one or more of these tools to help facilitate your learning and personal growth. There is a lot of great information out there and it is exciting to think that we have so many great tools to help us access that information and improve professionally and personally. Happy learning!