Five Brilliant iPap Apps for Teaching and Blogging

iPad homescreen

Twitter is not only a great source of news and reading links, but also a place to learn about new apps.  Since I am constantly trying out new digital tools, friends and colleagues regularly ask me about my favorite iPad apps (see my home screen on the right.)  However, instead of emailing each of them screenshots and descriptions, I have followed the advice of computer professor and productivity blogger Matt Might: when you are regularly asked the same question or have information to share with several people, write a blog post that you can save and share at any time.  So, here are my top five iPad apps for teaching and blogging:

1. Blogsy (blogging) $4.99Blogsy

I have blogs on both Blogger (a beer blog) and WordPress (educational technology, running, my English course) but found the iPad apps offered by both these services to be either lacking in features or a little buggy.  Following the advice of Lifehacker, I now use Blogsy and have really enjoyed the experience.  Blogsy allows you to drag and drop photos from both photos on your iPad but also from those posted on social media services.  You can connect with blogs on Blogger, WordPress, Tumbler and other major blogging services.  Even within these services, you can post to your various blogs.

2. Remind 101 (anonymous group texting) freeRemind101 Screenshot

Sometimes posting homework and reminders on the course website just isn’t direct enough: when I really want to get a message to my students, I use Remind101. This service, designed specifically for educators, is a free and anonymous group texting service: after you sign up and create a group, you share an anonymous phone number assigned to you and a password that you create with your students.  Students then subscribe to the group, and receive all group texts.  The key here is that you do not know their cell phone numbers, they do not know yours.  I have used Remind101 to remind my choir of rehearsals and performances, my cross country meets about events and practices, and my classes about assignments.  The students really like this service as they don’t have to do anything: the reminders and even links simply appear on their home screens.  The final killer feature is that you can schedule texts for any time so you can write them during school hours, but the students can receive the texts when they are supposed to be doing their homework!

3. Snapseed (photo editor) $4.99

I bought this photo editor several months ago on the recommendation of a professional photographer. While it is no Photoshop, it is a lightweight and highly interactive photo editor: IMG_5379swipe up and down to switch between filters, adjustments, and enhancement effects.  Swipe left and right to increase/decrease the effects.  Filters include the dramatic ‘Drama’ as seen in this photo of mountains in Ireland.

4. Evernote (digital notebook) free or $5/month Evernote St. Louis

Evernote currently has 34 million users and has recently been emulated by Google with it’s new app Keep.  However, every review I have read has said that while Google Keep is a handy app, it is no rival to the rich spectrum of features offered by Evernote.  (Ironically, since the introduction of Keep, Evernote has got even more popular).  In short, Evernote is a digital notebook: type in notes, take voice memos, or take photos.  The web clipper (save content directly from websites to a note) is a great feature, and it is even possible to clip content from a iPad using the bookmark function.  Notes are organized into folders that can be shared and even references offline (premium feature).  Here are two uses I have recently made of Evernote:

  • My family is relocating to St. Louis, and on a recent visit out there I went both house and school shopping.  As I saw houses and visited schools, I began a new note in  the St. Louis folder, took a picture, then added notes.  As I had shared this folder with my wife, she was able to stay up-to-date with houses and schools as I toured.
  • My kids are of the age when they are making lots of art and notes. For each memorable piece, I open a new note in my “Kids’ Art” folder, and take a photo of the art, sometimes with them holding it so I can remember how big/small they were!

The above examples relate to my personal life, but it is easy to see how students can use Evernote in similar ways on field trips, working on projects, or in building a digital portfolio.

5. Toon Camera $0.99IMG_7523

OK, this one’s just for fun, but it has a great number of fun filters for cartoon and drawing effects.  When you have chosen your filter, you can then share by email, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, or Instagram.

Best of the rest:

I recently found Readdle Calendar and have really enjoyed it’s clean interface and easy linking with my various Gmail calendars.  Wunderlist is a nice to-do app that now has a Chrome extension and buttons built into Gmail and some other services such as Amazon.  Tweetbot is a great Twitter service that allows you to easily switch between your Twitter accounts.