Category Archives: Education

Review: Omni Study for iPad

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A few months ago the Omni Study App was released and looked to capture a new segment of the education market. It was soon recognized by the App Store as a best new app. Needless to say, any writer would be excited to review such an app, and I was too. Unfortunately, the results were disappointing and buggy to say the least.

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Brainfeed for iPad: Paying for free content

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Apps like Brainfeed frustrate me somewhat. It’s a great looking app, but it has some content issues. The idea behind Brainfeed is that it serves up educational videos in a variety of topics, some of which are free to view, but most of the videos require an in-app purchase in a variety of tiers, the cheapest being $15 for a yearly subscription. However, (you can probably guess where this is going) a 20 second check of YouTube revealed that the videos were easily available here. Fair enough, I thought, the free videos on Brainfeed are available on YouTube. What would be interesting though is are any of the paid videos available? The short answer is yes. The app doesn’t give you the titles for the locked videos, only screenshots, but it is easy to find the locked videos on YouTube with a quick search of videos from the video creator’s channels. To give an example, one of the locked videos was by ‘Stuff of Genius’. I dialed up their YouTube channel and the locked video was there to watch for free. Continue reading

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Stick Around for iPad: Powerful App for Educators

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Stick Around – Nothing to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator….

When teaching, one of the great practical ways to inspire discussion, debate and higher order thinking skills is by categorisation/card sort exercises, ideally where a student can decide to put things in a certain order, and change their mind by moving their idea about depending on the discussion. Back in the ‘good old days’ (pre-iPad), I would spend ages making a card sort exercise – writing it out in Word, printing it, maybe laminating it (or if I was feeling lazy not bothering), cutting out all the cards and placing them in envelopes with paper clips on so they didn’t get lost. I’d then repeat this for however many sets I needed for the class. I’d feel my life force drain away in front of my eyes as I repeated this tortuous process for each of my classes, with the realisation that I still had a ton of stuff to mark and plan, but knowing that it would generate a good lesson of discussion, argument and discovery. Continue reading

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Review: Otus Learning Environment for iPad

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Otus positions itself as a learning environment for teachers and students who use iPads in school. There are two separate apps, a teacher app and a student app. The teacher app allows you to set up classes, log achievements or behavioural issues, take registers, set assignments and coming soon will be the ability to write blogs and have teacher led slide shows. Continue reading

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Axel’s Chain Reaction Storybook App for the iPad

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Axel’s Chain Reaction by Laura Allison Pomenta Badolato blew me away with its features, and it’s no surprise why. According to the iTunes Preview, the storybook app has won several awards such as The Parent’s Choice Golden Award and the App Circus Online Competition, and it is recommended by the National Science Teachers Association.

 

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Review: Shakespeare at Play for iPad

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Shakespeare. A word that can strike terror, or delight into a person. For me, mainly terror as I endure flashbacks of my A-level English Literature teacher screaming “Potter! How is Caliban portrayed as evil?!” as I sat there looking shifty trying to adjust my Kurt Cobain style curtains (hair, not material).

The app Shakespeare at Play is an effort to use the strengths of the iPad to combine various types of media into one package to further the study of the Bard. The app comes with the text of several well known plays, and has the option to make an in-app purchase to upgrade to a video edition, and/or a notes edition, the latter containing lots of annotation which goes into depth with the text of the play. More on the in-app purchase issue later. Continue reading

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Five Educational iPad Apps for Kids Aged 2-10

This week I reviewed five educational apps that help children explore language, culture, friendship, numbers, and much more. The apps originate from many places around the world, including England, Croatia and Jamaica. Yet each app engages children in its own unique way.

1. Aiden and the Apple Tree, A Jamaican story from author Johnathon A. Kelly, creator of The JuiceMan

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Set in the Jamaican town of Little Patch, the story begins as a young boy named James is caught trying to steal a mango from the town’s JuiceMan. Instead of getting angry at James, the JuiceMan retells the story of Aiden, a boy from the village of Chewmagna, who tried to steal from an apple tree that belongs to his teacher, Mrs. Applebee. James learns that honesty and hard work are rewarded, but sneakiness and stealing lead to trouble. 

The story of Aiden and the Apple Tree is a bit more complex than most storybook apps which makes it appropriate for children who are independent readers or prefer longer, more complex reading. However, the narration option makes it easy for younger children to enjoy the story as well.

The app includes a fifteen question reading comprehension quiz for the older children and coloring pages for children of all ages.

Note: iTunes lists Michelle Anaya as the seller for this app. I verified that the actual creator is Johnathon A. Kelly and holds the copyright for this app.Aiden and the Apple Tree is available on iTunes for $1.99. Ages 4 to 10.

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Learn in a Flash with Brainscape for iPad

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No matter what your level of education, there will always be things you need to memorize. There’s no better way to do that than with your good old trusty flashcards. But just like so many things of the past, flashcards have been reinvented for today’s digital world. Brainscape for iPad allows users to study flash cards in a different way than other services offer. The apps are well designed, and really do help you memorize the material. From Chinese to Sports Trivia, this app will get the job done.

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Apps to Get Your Kids Coding on the iPad Part 2

 

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This is Part 2 of my rundown on Coding with Your Kids on an iPad. Part 1 highlighted iPad apps that teach younger children the concepts behind programming. The following apps take these concepts further and introduce different elements to learning how to code. These apps are suitable for children aged 10-18 (or beyond!).

Hakitzu

Free + in-app purchases

Hakitzu is a fiendishly addictive app which teaches the essentials of Javascript. The premise of the game is you have to use Javascript commands to move robots around an arena to do battle, Robot Wars style. It’s a turn based game in which you are given a series of challenges like, ‘eliminate all enemies in one turn’. You then have to use your knowledge of Javascript to do this. You are also rewarded by coding efficiently, using less code to accomplish a task gets you more points. This is a nice nod to the ‘real world’ of programming where programmers want to avoid bloated code wherever possible.

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As you progress through Hakitzu, you can gain points which you can use to upgrade your robots with different weaponry and costumes.

I’ve used this app in the classroom and set up small teams to enable the students to have a ‘code off’ against each other. The nature of the app certainly brings out the competitive element in the students. The knowledge and programming that takes place in the game can also be directly related to Javascript coding and if your child is interested in this, Hakitzu compliments it nicely.

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Tidy Kids for iPad: Nice New Kids & Family App that Might Even Reduce Screen Time

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I don’t usually agree to look at apps that are aimed at very young kids, because my daughter is 10 (going on 30 in some ways, and spot on at 10 in others) and I don’t feel like I can give them a fair assessment.

Today I made an exception because Tidy Kids just seems like such a nice idea for an iPad app aimed at 3-6 year olds and families. It’s an app that’s fun, educational, has no ads or In-App purchases, and actually encourages time away from the device screen as the major part of the game.

Oh, and it’s got some stunning plasticine graphics and stop-motion animation too. Even though I’ve got no 3-6 year olds in the house, having spent 30 minutes with the app I’d bet this is going to have great appeal with that age group and their parents.

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Review – Walking with Dinosaurs: Inside their World iPad app


Walking with Dinosaurs: Inside their World is one of those big ‘wow factor’ iPad apps that are always great to come across. It has been recently revamped and BBC Worldwide and BBC Earth have collaborated on the new version.

This is an app that grownups will enjoy and kids will love and find hours of engagement with. It’s packed with great imagery, information and gripping interactive elements, as well as a simple interface that makes it easy to explore all of it. The 3D animations and models dinosaurs are more than worth the price of admission on their own, but the app offers a number of other impressive features:

– 280 fully interactive 3D models
– 60 expertly modeled, photorealistic dinosaurs, pterosaurs and reptiles
– 40 fully interactive 3D recreations of dinosaurs in mid-fight
– 200 pages worth of original text
– Hours of magical narration by Stephen Fry

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