2014 was a good year for apps, especially for iOS. The launch of iOS 8–clumsy as it may have been–and the release of the iPhone 6 meant there were lots of development and updates. Specific to education, leaders and learners have seen the potential of mobile learning some best practices are beginning to emerge.
Personally, I experimented a lot on different fronts. I attended my first edcamp, took my first EdX course and attended the iPad Summit. Each of these connected me with tools and teachers that I am really excited about. Most of these apps allowed my to continue this work in new and interesting ways.
Here are my top 15 apps from 2014.
#1. Shadow Puppet: Easy. Elegant. Effective. Shadow Puppet is fantastic for presentations in language class. Students can choose photos right off their camera roll and narrate over them. It is a great way to reboot and personalize the presentation. (¡Adiós PowerPoint!) My students used Shadow Puppet for units on home and school life and I plan on using it much more in 2015.
#2. Green Screen by Do Ink: Green Screen by Do Ink makes green screen technology accessible and fun to use. Green Screen integrates well with iMovie so you can greatly expand the platform to create pretty awesome movies. I used this app at home (LEGO! Explosions!) and I’ve used it at school. What I like most about this app is how it’s opened my eyes to this technology in other potential areas.
#3. Notability: Notability was not new for 2014 but it was free in the spring, so it makes the list. Most of my workflow goes through this productivity app and I couldn’t be more impressed. I keep notes, grade “papers” and sign documents all in one place. I’ve tried other annotation apps but Notability is the best I’ve used.
#4. Shazam: Shazam is about the only thing that makes my commute tolerable. This is highest praise I can bestow upon an app.
#5. & #6. Google Docs & Drive: This release of Docs and Drive as stand-alone apps was a game-changer for mobile. (I started writing this post on the Docs app.) I have written posts, created quizzes, collaborated on student’s and peer’s work, etc. Our school went to GAFE this year so the apps came at the perfect time for me and my students. The recent update that provides support for viewing and editing text in tables is huge.
#7. Schoology: I have been using Schoology as a LMS for a few years but we adopted it school-wide this year. Like with Docs, the updates come at the perfect time. Schoology now works equally well desktop and mobile. My workflow triangle is Schoology-Drive-Notability. 2014 was a banner year for all three.
#8. DailyArt: DailyArt is just that: amazing art delivered daily. Rich analysis and representative work from around the world.
#9. Elevate: Elevate is the App Store’s App of the Year for 2014. Brain training through fun games about memory, reading comprehension, concise writing–valuable skills for teachers and students. The app has a great interface, variety of games. As a language teachers I appreciate the word games. (Percentage ones give me sweats.) Call it muscle confusion training for the mind.
#10. Osmo: I saw Osmo at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in November and I loved it. “Play beyond the screen,” says the slogan and it’s really fun to do just that. The kit comes with three games: Words, Tangram and Newton. I expect Words will work very well in my Spanish class. For my own kids and for my classes, it’s a hit.
#11. Flipboard: Flipboard was not new for 2014; I’ve loved it for years. It did get a make-over that really works. I really like the way Flipboard brings together major publications and my PLN.
#12. 2048: I was obsessed with 2048 for a time. I’ll confess that I never made it to 2014, or even 4-digits for that matter, but I had fun. 2048 helped me through many snowy, slow-y days in the winter.
#13. QuizUp: QuizUp is the reigning champ of trivia games. There are tons of categories and you can compete with opponents all over the world.
#14. Smash Hit: Tron meets Frozen? Smash Hit is shameless fun. My kids love it and I don’t mind.
#15. Crossy Road: I’ll confess I usually eschew these games, not because I’m a snob but because I don’t have the time or the patience. (Happy to be able to say I have never played Candy Crush, for example.) Crossy Road is different: just nostalgic and nerdy to work for me.
What will 2015 hold? What will trends be? Where will I land? We’ll see.