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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

This is our first year of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and boy, did the students bring it. They brought it all! We have iPads, Surface RT and Pro, iPhones, Droids, Chromebooks, Macs, and PC laptops. Here's my current thinking. Please share yours in the comments section below.

Notetaking

If students can't find, review and access their notes or pictures of the board, their mobile notetaking system is useless. There are two multi-platform frontrunners.

Microsoft OneNote

In my opinion, the most robust single note-taking app is Microsoft OneNote because it looks just like a traditional notebook. It rocks interactive whiteboards because the notes you write on the board go directly into the notebook you share with the students. You can also edit simultaneously with a maximum of five students (my unofficial number from testing it). Students can write notes, grab screenshots and make to-do lists.

Even with its strengths, I think the iOS version of OneNote is lacking, and it doesn't have the robust developer and app community of Evernote. But if you're predominantly using Windows or Surface RTs and have an IT staff who can support the setup, this may still be your best option.

Evernote

Evernote is a multiplatform app with robust, useful apps like Skitch that let you work with your notes in cool ways -- but you cannot edit simultaneously. It's compatible with a great new tool for special ed (or for any student, really), the LiveScribe pen, which uses a tiny camera to scan every word that is written on LiveScribe paper. (You get a free premium subscription to Evernote with a new Livescribe pen and can also print free paper out of the Livescribe desktop software.) Pencasts made with Livescribe are a fantastic flipped classroom tool.

The premium version searches handwritten text so that photos of the board or your notes can actually be found later. The new Reminders feature can help students remember what to review and study on a routine basis.

eBooks

With ebooks as the current battleground of education technology, students should know how to find and download ebooks and PDFs on Kindle, iBooks and Kobo. (Google Play is must for Chrome or Droid.) Students should know how to take notes and search any reader that goes with their etextbook.

Writing

Traditional Essay Writing

For writing "traditional" essays, Microsoft Word is still a standby on Microsoft devices. Students are syncing personal documents through Skydrive. More iPad/Mac students are writing on their devices with Pages and then opening it up at icloud.com.

Collaborative Writing

For collaborative, simultaneous writing and peer feedback, Google Drive/Docs is still king, although Office 365 has some new robust features that make Microsoft Word simultaneous even on the desktop. We couldn't do our team projects or online presentations without simultaneous word processors -- every school should choose one.

Moving Between Platforms

Students should know how to convert, export, import and move data seamlessly between apps and devices of all kinds. They should also know how to "print to epaper" and how to open and annotate the documents in various readers.

Blogging

Blog posts can often start in other programs, but I'm careful to only use apps that are completely compatible with blogs and RSS (Microsoft Word is notoriously not.) I recommend Blogsy for iOS, Windows Live Writer for Microsoft and MarsEdit for Mac because they are all compatible with major blogging platforms like Wordpress (Edublogs) and Blogger (Kidblog), and let students write at home and post when they return to school. On Chrome, I love the Scribefire plug-in (although you have to be online to use this extension). For Edmodo, just use the Edmodo app.

Cloud Sync

One issue with mobile learning is how students will submit work. While we use Skydrive, Google Drive and Dropbox depending upon the circumstance, Dropbox is my go-to workhorse because students can upload video or anything else. You can also link Dropbox with dropitto.me to have students turn work in even if they don't have access to Dropbox.

Screenshots are King

No matter what platform, I want every student to know how to "grab" a screenshot. The built-in method is best, but Skitch is an awesome backup. Not only is this a cyber safety protection skill, it's also great for turning in work from a mobile device when you just can't figure out how to export -- or when the interface is buggy (as many are.)

If you’ve implemented BYOD or mobile learning, what are the most important lessons you’ve learned? What are your favorite apps? Please share links to blog posts you've written about this rapidly emerging field and the reality of how these apps work.

Innovative Ideas for Using Mobile in the Classroom
Sponsored by Concordia University, this series covers innovative uses of mobile in the classroom.

Comments (14)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia
Facilitator 2014

I'll second Evernote- I've been using it combined with Penultimate, which is a note-writing app that automatically syncs with Evernote. We've been playing around (in class) with shared notebooks. Very collaborative!

Lee Allan Sanders's picture
Lee Allan Sanders
Online teacher using various LMS/CMS tools to help others learn

Vicki you always add value *:-) Thank you.

Kevin Crouch's picture

So many choices.

Vicki, you have highlight that there is an embarrassment of riches to be had and that there is no excuse anymore for schools not to take the plunge into BYOT. I love OneNote and have presented on it far and wide, but alas, Microsoft did not heed the dinner bell and other companies are feasting instead. One tip is to 1)Get Google Apps 2)look for tools that integrate with it. So many iOS apps now allow saving and syncing with Google Apps, not to mention OpenID authentication so kids don't have to create more accounts. We video is a great example of this. I would also add my almost-all-time-favorite diigo to the list. I also love the simple Blogger app for little kids if you have iOS or Android tablets.

Adriane's picture
Adriane
7th Grade ELA Teacher from Greeleyville, SC

Wow! This information is great! Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I will definitely share with my colleagues in my graduate class, as well as colleagues at school. Edmodo is an app that I already use with my students and they love it since it resembles Facebook. It has been a great way for me to communicate with them after school in case they have questions about an assignment or homework. I have the app downloaded to my iPhone, so I immediately get notifications. I will look into these other BYOD suggestions and see what our administration will allow. I am 100% sure the students would love the concept of bringing their devices to school without them being taken away!

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher's picture
Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher
Computer Fundamentals, Computer Science and IT Integrator from Camilla, GA
Blogger 2014

Adriane - So many teachers love and use Edmodo. I think the best aspect for teachers are the libraries and communities that are so rich with resources that we can share with each other. Edmodo rocks. I love how you're willing to be the lead learner in your classroom. I can feel your excitement about trying new things. THIS IS THE KIND OF TEACHER WE NEED. Kudos and I love your attitude.

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher's picture
Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher
Computer Fundamentals, Computer Science and IT Integrator from Camilla, GA
Blogger 2014

Oh Kevin - I LOVE LOVE LOVE Diigo and write about it quite a bit. We use it heavily in my classroom and I use it for PLN building. That is a great one I hope people will try out too! Good point.

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher's picture
Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher
Computer Fundamentals, Computer Science and IT Integrator from Camilla, GA
Blogger 2014

Keith - Evernote is such a great app, particularly for kids with LD's who need to record, but honestly, I need it and use it to record all kinds of meetings and activities. Such a great truth that it has become my "external brain." Thanks for seconding Evernote - it should really be on every educators (and student's) ipad.

Bessie.zavala's picture

Hello Vicki,

Thanks for sharing all your ideas. This year was also the first year my school implemented BYOD. It was great because students did bring their devices and were engaged the entire time. I am excited to try Microsoft OneNote which I never heard of. I have heard great things of Evernote but never tried it with my students.

Google drive is great because you can edit student's work right on the document and it's free unlike Microsoft word. We are starting to become a google school. This upcoming year all the students will receive a google email so we can use google drive.

Apps and websites that I have used myself are :

ShowME app - It's an interactive whiteboard where teachers and students can create tutorial videos. Students can watch these videos from home and I give them extra credit for creating their own videos.

Quizlet- Great study tool I really like to use it for my ESOL students. All you have to do is create a set of flashcards and Quizlet will convert it into a quiz, games, and read the words and definitions in English. My ESOL students really like to study using this.

Edpuzzle - This is a website where students watch your videos or other videos. You can embed questions, comments, and your voice within the video. Then you can track if students watched the entire video and which questions they got correct/incorrect.

Blendspace- I love to show a lot of videos or clips that are math related so instead of me keeping searching on youtube you can put the videos you are going to show in one place.

Edmodo- You mentioned Edmodo and it's a great way to communicate with students. When students need help with any assignment they can ask me on Edmodo which is quicker than an email.

Remind101- A safe way for teachers to text students. I text my students reminders or any changes to the class schedule. Remind 101 gives you a number to use so you will never know student's numbers and they won't have yours.

Hope you all can look into some of these! :)

(1)
Bessie.zavala's picture

Hello Vicki,

Thanks for sharing all your ideas. This year was also the first year my school implemented BYOD. It was great because students did bring their devices and were engaged the entire time. I am excited to try Microsoft OneNote which I never heard of. I have heard great things of Evernote but never tried it with my students.

Google drive is great because you can edit student's work right on the document and it's free unlike Microsoft word. We are starting to become a google school. This upcoming year all the students will receive a google email so we can use google drive.

Apps and websites that I have used myself are :

ShowME app - It's an interactive whiteboard where teachers and students can create tutorial videos. Students can watch these videos from home and I give them extra credit for creating their own videos.

Quizlet- Great study tool I really like to use it for my ESOL students. All you have to do is create a set of flashcards and Quizlet will convert it into a quiz, games, and read the words and definitions in English. My ESOL students really like to study using this.

Edpuzzle - This is a website where students watch your videos or other videos. You can embed questions, comments, and your voice within the video. Then you can track if students watched the entire video and which questions they got correct/incorrect.

Blendspace- I love to show a lot of videos or clips that are math related so instead of me keeping searching on youtube you can put the videos you are going to show in one place.

Edmodo- You mentioned Edmodo and it's a great way to communicate with students. When students need help with any assignment they can ask me on Edmodo which is quicker than an email.

Remind101- A safe way for teachers to text students. I text my students reminders or any changes to the class schedule. Remind 101 gives you a number to use so you will never know student's numbers and they won't have yours.

Hope you all can look into some of these! :)

(1)

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