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Top Apps for Professional Development

December 26, 2011 8:00 am

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John Sowash


Apps for Professional DevelopmentI was recently asked to lead a professional development session for a school that is starting to roll out iOS devices for teachers and students. Over the course of the year, staff at this school will be receiving a significant amount of professional development to help them better utilize the technology that is available to them. The focus of my session was iOS Apps for professional development. I scrolled through my iPad and made a list of the Apps that I use on a regular basis to help me learn and develop as an educator. Here’s what I came up with:
*Note: if you would like a printable copy of this list, click here
Communication Apps

Twitter App (free)

Twitter is one of the most active and beneficial social networks on the web. All educators would be wise to join the conversation. If you haven’t used Twitter yet, I would recommend that you read these excellent blog posts:

Google Voice (free)

Text and call for free! Also allows you to read transcribed voicemail messages or listen to them.

Skype (free)

A beautiful app that allows you to make and receive VOIP calls on your iOS device.

HeyTell (free)

A fun “walkie-talkie” app for quick voice communication. Works over WiFi. Our IT team uses it to communicate with each other because they are always holed up in some random IT closet throughout the building.

Consumption Apps

FlipBoard (free)

A beautiful app that turns your RSS reader (such as Google Reader) into a magazine. Quickly and simply browse through blog posts and news articles as if you were flipping the pages of a magazine.

Zite (free)

Similar to FlipBoard, however instead of just providing a beautiful interface to view content you select, Zite tries to introduce you to new content sources based off of sources you currently read.

QR Code Readers

Quick-Response codes are the strange black and white boxes that have begun appearing everywhere. This little box is a coded website URL. Scanning the code with a QR code reader will take you to the associated web page. QR codes are a great way to quickly lead people to a specific website without having to type in the URL.

  • RedLaser: free native iPhone app, simple and lightweight
  • Qrafter: free, the most robust of all of the QR scanners. Saves scans and includes sharing options
  • Scan: free, simplest to use. Scans automatically load in integrated web-browser

Diigo (free)

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows you to save, categorize, and share your favorite websites. Use Diigo to bookmark a site you found using your computer so that you can pull it up later on your iPad.

Research Apps:

Google Search App (free)

Provides access to Google search (text, voice, and image), Calendar, Docs, Google+ and much more. A must have.

WolframAlpha ($2.99)

WolframAlpha is an amazing “computational knowledge engine” that provides answers to mathematical questions. This is a great tool for mining data or running large-scale comparisons or calculations.

Document and File Management Apps:

QuickOffice HD ($14.99)

Document management and editing app that integrates with Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote, MobileMe and several other services. Enables you to quickly and easily move documents between services or save them locally to edit when you don’t have a web connection. One of the few apps that supports the creation and editing of PowerPoint presentations.

Genius Scan (free)

Take a photo of your receipts and easily organize and email via PDF. This is a great app for anyone who travels or submits a lot of expenses for reimbursement.

DropBox (free)

Cloud-based storage that you can access from most web-enabled devices. Dropbox is the go-to solution to move files onto and off of iOS devices.

Utility Apps

iTalk (free)

Simple and basic voice recorder. Records interviews or voice memos simply and effectively.

App Discovery: Discovr Apps (free) | AppMiner (free)

Sometimes finding the right app for a specific need can be challenging. These two apps attempt to help by suggesting relevent apps based on those you currently have or on suggestions that you submit.

Dragon Dictation (free)

This is a very useful speech-text app. I know individuals who use it to write email messages instead of typing them on their iPad.

GoTasks (Free)

Simple, no-frills to-do-list that integrates well with Gmail Tasks feature.

Education Apps

Attendance ($4.99)

A highly rated gradebook app for iPod/iPad. Integrates with Dropbox. Allows users to take pictures of students to help with attendance taking. Can integrate with popular LMS such as BlackBoard.

Socrative (Free) Teacher App | Student App

A new, and very popular tool that allows teachers to create dynamic assessments. Students use the Student App to turn their iOS device into a “clicker” device. Socrative is a web-based service that works on virtually any device with an Internet connection.

CommonCore (Free)

This well designed app makes browsing common core standards simple and intuitive. Look for significant updates as the standards for additional disciplines are released.

Discovery Streaming (“Web App”, requires subscription)

Browse through the Discovery Ed video library on your iPad. Videos can be streamed directly from the device. App does not install through the App Store. Click here to visit the mobile optimized DE site.

Screen Sharing Apps

Remote Desktop Solutions

Splashtop Remote Desktop ($2.99) | Doceri Remote (free)

Allows you to control and view your desktop on your iOS device. Great for teachers who like to roam around the room while they teach.

ScreenChomp (free)

Simple whiteboard app that allows the quick authoring of white-board videos. Records audio as well as the screen. Utilities include multiple pen colors and clip art. Easily upload videos to Facebook or

iBrainstorm (Free)

Drawing tool (does not record video or audio). Supports live screen sharing so that someone multiple people can view the same screen. Finished drawings can be sent via email or exported to the camera roll.

What do you think?

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