Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Not Always My Favorite

I think it's very important that students create stuff. Having to transfer what you know into a new product it's extremely valuable for really understanding a concept. What tool is used to make that stuff can vary greatly and is largely irrelevant to the bigger goal of increased knowledge. Just like students, teachers have their own favorite tools for creating stuff for students. Like everyone else, I have my favorite apps for different tasks on my iPad or iPhone. As apps change, my preference changes. I used to be a HUGE Penultimate fan (see why here) until they "improved" their app. I was one of many who couldn't stand the new update. While they've made some changes (shameless plug that I was once quoted on TechCrunch), it's never been the same and, although it was once a staple of my iPad dock, it's no longer anywhere on my iPad.
On the other hand, there are some tasks that have two apps that switch back and forth between being my favorites. Screencasting on an iPad is a great example. For a long time, I was in the ShowMe "camp" because of how much I liked their online community. Then Educreations added multiple pages. I sway back and forth depending on their most recent update. I generally tell people to try out both and pick one you like.
Another one is book creation. My two favorites, in alphabetical order, are Book Creator and My Story. Unlike the screencasting apps, these two go back and forth of my "favorite" depending on the situation I'm in. If I'm creating a book for myself, it's definitely Book Creator. It's layout is hands down more "sophisticated" looking. It also allows you to add video within your book, something My Story doesn't do. However, for younger students, the My Story layout is much more friendly. Just recently they introduced the ability to share My Story books between iPads.
1st graders creating books on how to make no bake pies.
We used this to make a template for 1st graders and then Air Drop the template to their iPads. Students could then edit their own book and resend it back to me as a movie. They have the option of making it an ePub that you can read in the Safari browser, an option that is fantastic for class presentations or sharing with parents, but I noticed that when students sent the link back to me, all of the ePubs had the same short URL. I've reached out to My Story, so hopefully that'll get cleaned up. You can see the student videos below.

So which app is best for each task? Depends on the audience, the day, and the most recent update. The apps will always change, but the purpose of the learning will not.

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