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CDETB Curriculum Development Unit | App Of The Week – reviews 2019-2020
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Have a wonderful Summer! Back at the end of August!



Friday, 3rd July 2020



Loom: Screen Recordings and More


We all spend a lot of time in virtual meetings, but sometimes it is just easier to explain something via a short video. Loom lets you record what is happening on the screen of your device or computer.

Download the app. Create an account by using your email, Slack or Gmail account. Enable your camera and microphone access. If you enable notifications, the app alerts you to when your uploads are ready and how to quickly access them for editing.

A short tutorial pops up – recording is straightforward. It recommends turning on the ‘do not disturb’ function in the menu of your device to avoid interruptions. There is also a two-minute video at the end of the tutorial.

There are two ways of recording: access your device’s system menu by swiping down to access the ‘recording button’. If this does not show, go to the ‘settings’ menu, then to ‘control centre’ and select ‘screen recording’ (for IPads). Open up the website, documents or presentations you like to show in your video. Swipe down on the screen again and hit the record button. Tap ‘stop’ when you are finished. Wait until the video is uploaded to Loom and give it a title.

Or record from within your app. Select ‘record screen’, then ‘start broadcast’. Everything on the screen of your device will be recorded, including notifications. Turn your microphone off if you just want a video recording. A count down from 3 to 1 gives you time to prepare. Again, go back to your main screen (by hitting the ‘home’ button) and open the resources you want to show. You see the red recording sign at the top of your screen.

Check your videos by selecting the ‘videos’ tap at the bottom. You can share your recording via social media or other apps (such as Zoom or Google Hangouts) or by copying the link.


Could be used for: sharing information quickly with others, e.g. showing how to do things on a device.

What I liked about it: really easy to use video messaging app.

Watch out for: for more advanced features you need to pay.


Available from the App Store and for download.

More information here: https://www.loom.com/


Friday, 26th June 2020


Slido: Audience Interaction Made Easy


During an online event you might want to get some feedback from your participants. Slido offers a quick and straightforward solution.

You need to set up an account on their website. ‘Quick event’ allows you to start a live poll: choose from multiple choice, open text, word cloud or rating which are available in the free version. You can also schedule a future event.

‘Analytics’ shows some basic information on active events, questions and poll votes you have created.

The ‘academy’ tap brings you to the support page with videos explaining everything – from starting events to creating quizzes and polls.

You can invite others to join your team if you upgrade to a paid version. There are tutorials, templates and guides dispersed throughout the website.

The app is for participating in a poll or a Q&A session (where participants can type a question for the speaker). Your audience can also open your poll in a browser – no login needed, just the registration number.

Slido can be integrated into PowerPoint and Google Slides presentations as well as into Zoom, Vimeo and Slack. Export the results if you wish.

Could be used for: quick feedback on a training session or formative assessment exercises.

What I liked about it: you can see what your poll looks like for the participants by selecting the ‘participants mode’ tap on the left.

Watch out for: for more sophisticated polls and surveys you need to sign up to a paid version.

Available from the App store, on Google Play and online.

More information here: https://www.sli.do/


Friday, 19th June 2020

Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles

Download the app – no sign in required. If you allow notifications, you will receive alerts and other information.

There are all kind of drawn brain teasers, which should keep you entertained. Most of them are word games or basic maths problems– and a literal interpretation of the instructions often gives you a hint of the solution. It helps to think outside the box. And to drag objects around the screen.

Clues are available when you click on the looking glass. Rewards are given if you watch advertisements for other gaming apps.

You can share via the usual channels.

Check which level you are on by clicking on the three dots.

Could be used for: rainy afternoons. Or copy some of the ideas contained in the quizzes for your online classroom.

What I liked about it: could probably be used with smaller children.

Watch out for: Rating requests and adds for other apps pop up a lot but removing them costs money.

Available from the App store, on Google Play and from Microsoft.

More information (solutions!) here: https://braintestanswers.com/


Friday, 12th June 2020


Bulb – digital portfolios


Portfolios are widely used in educational settings. This app lets you create work and showcase it.

Download and sign up – if you have a Gmail account you can use that. A short introductory page explains the main features. It includes a video.

The main menu has two links: creating a new page or collection and ‘my groups’ (where you could set up a class).

Creating a new page is simple: you can add images, text, links and videos. All of this is self-explanatory: add an audio track by clicking on the microphone symbol.

Save your portfolio from time to time. When you are ready to publish, you can do so privately (by restricting access) or publicly. If you choose ‘private’, the app will give you a link you can share with, for example, your students.

You can share your profile further– simply click on the three dots in the right upper corner to view your options.

Could be used for: creating portfolios of students’ work. Not just for Art classes.

What I liked about it: easy to get started.

Watch out for: as always, be careful with whom you share content.

Available from the App store and from Microsoft.

More information here: https://www.bulbapp.com/

They have sample portfolios and additional support information.


Friday, 5th June 2020


If you need a tool to organise your thoughts, try Popplet to create diagrams and charts.

Download the app – no sign in needed. Help is available when you click on the question mark sign.

A popple is basically a text box which can be populated with information and linked to other text boxes. You can change the colour of the box and write into it or insert images. Drag the popples around the screen with your finger to create hierarchies. Click on the dots beside a box to insert a new box.

You can export your work to PDF or JPEG files and share them with your students. This might inspire them to try out their own. If you want to transfer a popplet from the app to the online version, you need to copy and paste.

Could be used for: easy mind mapping exercises and to visualise concepts.

What I like about it: super easy to use.

Watch out for: nothing, really.

Available from the App store and online.

More information here: http://popplet.com/


Friday, 29th May 2020


Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia


Today we are looking at a classic app. Wikipedia is the go-to website for many queries, but the app is also handy to have.

Download the app. A reminder pops up that this resource is written collaboratively by volunteers (including Irish librarians!) and has more than 400 million articles in nearly 300 languages. You can decide whether or not you want Wikimedia to know about your usage.

The main menu consists of a number of options, which you are probably familiar with already. The search function is put prominently on top.

The ‘explore’ feed contains different cards: recommended, random and top read articles, a picture of the day, places (all about landmarks), and ‘on this day’ – check out what happened today in history. You can also customise this feed by clicking on the three dots to the right of each card.

Change the language you want to search in by selecting the ‘settings’ button in the top righthand corner. You can change font sizes, background colour of the screen and brightness to suit your reading preferences. This you can also do whilst reading – there is a menu on the bottom of your screen. And, of course, copy articles, send them by email or share them on social media and learning platforms (e.g. Zoom).

Could be used for: checking out some basic facts. You can share articles with your students if you are teaching online.

What I liked about it: This app has all the functionality of the website.

Watch out for: don’t get lost in links and spend hours on browsing😊

Available from the App Store and on Google Play. Also available online.

More information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikipedia_mobile_applications and here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page



Friday, 22nd May 2020


Neverthink: handpicked videos




Running out of things to watch? This app sees itself as ‘TV of the Internet’. From their website: “Videos are hand‑picked daily by our team of Internet culture experts, meme influencers and YouTubers.”

Simply download the app. A few slides give an overview. If you allow notifications, you will get updates. A welcome video is hidden under ‘settings’.

‘Specials’ takes snippets from across social media outlets and combines them into longer videos. ‘Oops’, for example, reminds the viewer of embarrassing moments on TV.

‘My channels’ contain a selection of topics you might be interested in, e.g. ‘world news’ and ‘learn something’. You can add new channels easily – choose from a wide selection which includes film, music, food, news, nature, gaming, and very odd ones, such as ‘area 51’ (exposing the world’s best-kept mysteries)… Fast forward and select a new video by sliding the image to the left.

Could be used for: if you want some distraction while you are cooking.

What I liked about it: makes it easy to discover new content. And its curated by humans, not algorithms.

Watch out for: no substitute for watching established channels on TV.

Available from the App Store and on Google Play. Also available online.

More information here: https://neverthink.tv/


Friday, 15th May 2020


ZOOM Cloud Meetings

Remote working requires access to new technologies. Video conferencing software has become an integral part for most of us. If you cannot meet people in person, you could try out this app.

After downloading, you can join a meeting. If you have been given a link by your host, you just need to click on it. Alternatively, you can use the meeting ID provided. Connect via audio or video.

If you want to host a meeting, you need to sign up to Zoom (or use your Gmail or Facebook account). There is also an option for organisational logins. Decide whether or not you want Zoom to have access to your calendar and if you want it to send you notifications. Scheduling meetings is easy. Invite your participants by email.

Access to a whiteboard is also included. This is useful if you want to demonstrate something during the call. Share your screen to show content you have on your device. Send texts, voice messages, files and images to the people you are meeting. You can also record your meetings.

If you are a staff member of City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB) and need some training in the use of Zoom, please contact us at info@cdu.cdetb.ie. Our CPD co-ordinator is available for introductory sessions.

Could be used for: online meetings with your staff or students. Some advice on the etiquette involved: https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/zoom-calls-coronavirus-5070525-May2020/

What I liked about it: an alternative to meeting people in person.

Watch out for: do not send out meeting invitations via social media. Meetings using the free version are capped at 40 minutes in length.

Available from the App Store and on Google Play. Also available online.

More information here: https://zoom.us/


Friday, 8th May 2020


Socratic – get unstuck, learn better

In the current situation many parents help their children with their school work. Inevitably, there is that one question you cannot answer. Here is a mobile learning app that could give you the edge.

You need to allow access to your camera to take a picture of your query. Additionally, you can ask a question if you had allowed access to your microphone or you could type a question using the ‘looking glass’ icon.

There is also an example to show you how to do phrase a question. Using text and speech recognition, the answer comes up with explainers, example problems and further links to websites.

Without a student textbook to hand, I typed out a question on my computer and took a picture of the screen. The answers (more than one) all cited the same basic facts. In my case, the web references linked to Wikipedia articles, which, in the grand scheme of things, are acceptable starting points for further exploration. There is also the option to delve deeper into certain subject areas, mainly STEM, History and Literature. The resources assembled in these categories might provide students with a basic overview.

Could be used for: helping our students (and their parents) who get stuck during home schooling.

What I liked about it: for a quick overview and if you are really stuck, this app is very handy. A lot of visual aids (including videos) should be attractive to students.

Watch out for: as always it is good practice to check more than one source – and that includes print resources.

Available from the App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: https://socratic.org/



Friday, 1st May 2020



In the current climate we can all do with a bit more Art in our lives. DailyArt is a handy app that lets you explore the stories behind the masterpieces.

Select your language and notification preferences – what time of the day would like to receive it? The daily piece of art pops up with information about the impact or history of that work. When you scroll down you see links to the genre and the gallery/museum where it is housed.

If you click on the image you can enlarge it to view it in detail. Share it on social media or by email. You can also save it to your device and use it as wallpaper.

The Pro version (paid service) contains a searchable database of artists and their work, which might be worth the investment.

Could be used for: general knowledge, but also for history and art lessons. Might inspire students to get creative.

What I liked about it: a reminder of the world outside:)

What to look out for: ads on the bottom of your screen can be distracting.

Available from the App Store and on Google Play. They are also on Twitter: @DailyArtApp

More information here: https://www.getdailyart.com/

If you want to explore more art, check out https://www.europeana.eu for cultural artefacts from European museums, galleries, libraries, and archives.


Friday, 24th April 2020


An Post app

One of our essential services is undoubtably the postal service. An Post have developed an app that lets you track an item, calculate postage, find a post office, or check for an address. They have also included a currency calculator and currency rates, which are being updated daily.

The address checker works really well. I tried to look up the CDU and it worked even when I provided just parts of the name. It even displayed the Eircode.

Tutorials on how to use any of the submenus are hidden under the icon in the upper right hand corner. Click on “support”.

Could be used for: quick check of facts, such as current postal charges. If you are out for your 2km socially distanced walk, you can keep an eye on when you can expect a delivery.

What I liked about it: all the functions from their website in a handy app.

Watch out for: nothing, really, but audio guidance for visually impaired users might be a welcome addition.

Available from the App Store and on Google Play.


More information here: http://www.anpost.ie/AnPost/Mobile/Personal+Customers/More+from+An+Post/An+Post+App.htm


Friday, 17th April 2020


Escape Funky Island


As the last days of the Easter holidays are upon us (and the family needs to escape a certain virus) you might be interested in a little adventure.

Download this app. A quick intro shows the hero of the game – a private detective, who is your avatar. The cartoon style is visually appealing and appropriate even for smaller children. The story unfolds by tapping on the detective.

You need to be able to read, so younger kids might need help here. Keep exploring and collecting items. And pick up pieces of the treasure map. If you are stuck, you can receive hints by clicking on the question mark icon. You might need to watch an add in order to get more help. The little arrow in the bottom menu shows you where to go next.

It is not always clear what items are collectable, which might spark a few discussions if you play in a group. It also makes it more interesting. Also, you only have five empty boxes in which to keep items, so you might need to plan your next move. Highlight the item you would like to use. Combine two of them by clicking on both of them – they become something else.

The ‘settings’ button brings you to a menu for selecting levels, the shop, and to other apps created by the developer.

Could be used for: working on the puzzles should keep the whole family entertained.

What I liked about it: it is an easy way of passing some time.

Watch out for: additional levels need payment as does the add free VIP pack (watch out for pop up adds!).

Available from the App store and on Google play.

More information here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlQhaxog-yE (walkthrough), https://puzzle4u.com/escape-funky-island-walkthrough-all-levels-and-solutions/ (more solutions) and http://www.snapbreak.com


Friday, 10th April 2020

Good Friday

Happy Easter!


Friday, 3rd April 2020


Genius Scan

Working remotely has its own challenges. One might be a lack of access to office equipment. If you need to scan something, try out this app. Simply download it. You can scan from camera, import photos, or import files. Simply click on the ‘plus’ sign in the bottom right corner.

Scanning from camera is easy: simply allow the app to access your camera and point your device at the piece of paper you would like to scan. ‘Single mode’ creates one page, but ‘batch mode’ could be used to scan a bigger document. The app automatically corrects distortions.

When you are done, you can manipulate your work further. A submenu allows you to change the filter – having it set to ‘photo’ gives you a good quality result. You can rotate or re-crop it and decide on the output format (A4 or business card, for example). If have several pages, you can reorder them.

Exporting can be done by email (among other options).

Could be used for: quick scan of material you would like your students to use.

What I liked about it: easy to use. Also, the company is based in the European Union, so EU privacy laws apply.

Watch out for: don’t delete your creation by accident when you are trying to get out of the ‘camera’ mode. Click on ‘done’. Also, review requests pop up occasionally.

Available from the App store and on Google play.

More information here: https://thegrizzlylabs.com/genius-scan


Friday, 27th March 2020


Tree identification


Going for a (socially distanced) walk is good for your physical and mental health. You might discover plants you have never seen before. If you need a handy app that allows you to identify a tree, try this one developed by The British Woodland Trust.

No log in is needed. You can identiy trees by feature, browse an A-Z of trees, or check out the tree map (you need to allow access to your lcoation). I tried that and the app showed me trees in my area that had been tagged by other users. One click and a vast amount of information about that species pops up, including its place in mythology and value to wildlife.

You might have found a leaf or needle, leaf bud, flower, fruit, bark or twig/branch. Go to the ‘feature’ option and narrow down your search by selecting more options. At any stage you can look at possible hits and check out the photos of trees to see if you can spot one of them near you.

Could be used for: entertaining your children and educating yourself. Enjoy the wonders of the forrest!

What I liked about it: well written information, beautiful photos, very easy to use.

Watch out for: this app does not use augmented reality features (unlike iNaturalist, reviewed here in June 2019: http://cdetbcdu.ie/professional-development/technology-enhanced-learning-tel/apps-of-the-week-2018-2019/) allowing the camera of your device to help you identify a tree.

Available from the App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/tree-id-app/


Friday, 20th March 2020

Wildfulness 2 – Sounds of Nature

We seem to be bombarded by bad news these days, so it’s crucial to look after both your physical and mental health. If you need a bit of escape (but can’t leave the house), here is an app that should help you relax.

Wildfulness captures the experience of being outdoors complete with animal and other sounds. Simple and gorgeous.

Hand-drawn landscapes are combined with sounds of nature. You can choose between ‘uplifting daybreak’ and ‘swan brook at sunrise’. If you tap anywhere within a scene you can start a timer to keep the sounds playing in the background.

A simple (slightly hypnotic) breathing exercise help you to unwind. In the main menu tap on the circle in the upper right corner.

Could be used for: bringing nature into the home for people who are trapped indoors.

What I liked about it: really easy to use.

Watch out for: for more landscapes you need to subscribe to the paid version.

Available from the App Store.

More information here: http://www.getwildfulness.com/


Friday, 13th March 2020


RCSI MyHealth



With the current #CoronaPandemic it is easy to see how misinformation and lies can easily lead to hysteria and panic. Even with every day health concerns it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Here is an app designed and run by Health Professionals you can trust: the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in association with leading Irish charities.

The main menu has four options: ‘health conditions’, ‘health services’, ‘health news’ and ‘I want to help’ (which links to blood and organ donation sites).

You can search for conditions or browse an A-Z list. The ‘category’ sub menu lists health concerns according to body part.

‘Health services’ provides information on emergency numbers, health organisations, hospitals and a page where you can keep personal information, such as your GP’s phone number. This might come in handy in an emergency.

‘Health news’ links to four different sources – of most interest to Irish audiences are probably the Irish Health News and BBC medical news sites. There is also a link to the Health section of the Irish Times.

Could be used for: getting some basic information on any health concern you might have.

What I liked about it: very easy to use.

Watch out for: of course no app can replace a health professional. And no entry for Coronavirus! Go to http://www.irishhealth.com/ for updates.

Available from the App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: https://www.rcsimyhealth.ie/


Friday, 28th February 2020




Need to look up the meaning of a word? There are many dictionaries available online, but the most popular is probably dictionary.com.

No need to sign in. A short tutorial points out the main characteristics. Using the app is straightforward: choose between ‘dictionary’ and ‘thesaurus’, then type in the word you are looking for.  If you are not sure how to spell it, look through the list of hits displaying as you type along. The results are concise, contain links for further reference, and even include a reference to the origin of the word. You can share your findings via social media, email or save them to your device.

But the app contains so much more:

The ‘word of the day’ gives definitions, examples and even an audio file so that you can hear the proper pronunciation.

There are also aids to help you write and speak better. Videos, quizzes, stories, quotes and other objects invite the user to explore further – they are available on the website.

Additional context is available including science and medical dictionaries, but you have to upgrade to gain access to these databases.

Could be used for: helping your students with spelling and writing exercises.

What I like about it: easy to use. It should be appealing to all types of learners.

Watch out for: ads are displayed at the bottom of the screen and pop up occasionally. For an ad free offline version you need to upgrade.

Available from the Apple App Store, on Google Play and for desktop use.

More information here: https://www.dictionary.com/


Friday, 21st February 2020


Quip – Docs, Chats, Sheets

Collaboration is part of many workplaces. Quip is mainly used by businesses, but could be of use to schools and colleges, too: “Quip combines documents, spreadsheets, slides, and chat into one place inside Salesforce”. The app asks for your work email. I used a Gmail account – and this worked, too. You can decide if you want the app to have access to your contacts, but you can add people later. You can also log in through your desktop.

A short tutorial is available when you click on ‘private documents’, including a video highlighting the main features. Create a new document, spreadsheet or folder. I tried out a new document and found that it can be created quickly: insert text, images, videos, spreadsheets, tables, checklists, people, documents, links, and formula. Format your creation further by incorporating horizontal rules or block quotes. Comments can be also be added. The spreadsheet and table functions open up a calculator. Live updates and comments allow for real-time communication with your team.

On the top right corner you find another menu:

Share by adding people to your contact list or send out a link (can be restricted to members of your group or generally accessible).

Look up items (you can import from, among others, Google Drive and Dropbox) or copy, print documents and change them into pdfs.

Could be used for: online meetings.

What I like about it: different types of applications integrated in one place.

What to look out for: Many of the live apps (e.g. calendar) need to be purchased. And only the trial is free.

Available from the Apple App Store, on Google Play and for desktop use.

More information here: https://quip.com/


Friday, 14th February 2020


Doceri – create, control, present

From their website: “Doceri is the professional iPad interactive whiteboard and screencast recorder with sophisticated tools for hand-drawn graphics and built-in remote desktop control.”

The app needs access to your device’s microphone. A short introductory video the main features. It allows you to connect to your computer and projector (you need to go through the Doceri Desktop application). Or else use your IPad and present by using ‘Airplay’.

Sample projects can be used to get you started on your own project. The ‘creation’ menu displays the slide changes in real time. It allows you to draw on your slide with virtual pencils and markers, add squares and circles and place images into it. Erasing is easy.

There are plenty of background patterns, including maps of countries. You can record an audio voice over and upload your presentation to YouTube or share it by email.

An extensive help menu is available when you select the ‘info’ icon.

Could be used for: interactive teaching activities.

What I like about it: use your IPad as an interactive whiteboard.

Watch out for: free samples have the company’s logo on. If you want to get rid of the watermark, you need to sign up for the paid version.

Available from the App Store, for Windows and for desktop use.

More information here: https://doceri.com/features.php


Friday, 7th February 2020


TurningPoint – polling and interactive audiences



For the week that’s in it, here is an app that is not only used in polling, but also for quick assessments.

A few screenshots show you what the main features are. You need to select your region first. You then can sign in or join in as a guest. The app states that a university email address is needed, but CDETB seems to work as well. You create your account on the actual website. The app seems to work better for participants – the website is the place to create new polls.

Setting up a new course is straightforward. Pop up advice helps with the initial steps. Create multiple choice questions. Allow for anonymous and multiple responses, and participant comments in scheduled sessions. Add participants by individually enrolling them or by pasting from other applications, e.g. Excel. You can schedule content to be published at certain times. Results are displayed in gradebooks for individual students – and you can check for attendance.

The company also sells different types of clickers, which might be of use to students with, for example, visual impairments. There are also other ways of polling with this software, including integration into PowerPoint presentations.

Could be used for: quizzes and polls in a flipped classroom.

What I liked about it: sleek design. Plenty of supporting documents, videos and even an online chat.

Watch out for: when you set up the account, you need to provide a phone number. Also, only the trial seems to be free – you might want to think about the investment…

Available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/turningpoint/


Friday, 31st January 2020



Showbie: your classroom, connected

This app allows you to collect and review student work. You can follow a short introduction before you sign up (the link to this video did not work when I tried, but it is accessible on the website). Sign up for free as a teacher, student or parent. I chose the teacher login. There are several different access routes, including personal email, Gmail or Outlook.

Join your school or create a new account. You can then start adding classes and assignments. Assignments should incorporate a due date and instructions. The app then creates a class code which your students need to join your class. A support chat opens up when you sign in first. Help and additional resources are also available when you select on the ‘question mark’ icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.

The main menu consists of ‘classes’, ‘groups’ and ‘students’. The ‘wrench icon’ on the right hand side opens up a sub menu, which allows you to set up new groups or classes, which both parents and students can join. This might be handy if you want to send out announcements for a specific class or if you want parents to have access to student work.

Feedback can be given quickly and in real time. There is an audio recorder for verbal comments. You can upload videos, pictures and audio files, which should suit all types of learners.

Could be used for: setting up quizzes and other interactive assignments allowing for personalised feedback.

What I liked about it: it seems to be very easy to use.

Watch out for: some of the more advanced features, such as student portfolios and class discussions, are only available in the paid version.

Available from the Apple App Store.

More information here: https://www.showbie.com/


Friday, 24th January 2020


Jumprope: How-to Videos

New year, new you. Want to learn how to do things or simply share a skill you have? Jumprope allows you to create quick how-to videos: anything from food and drink to beauty and fashion to technology, fitness, parenting, and gardening.

You need to sign up first –either with your Facebook account or by email. A short survey assesses your preferences. You need to decide on a username and set a password.

The main menu entails a search function (look up things or browse by category), a creation button and notifications. There is an interactive video which explains how to create your own hidden under the ‘profile’ button. Help is at hand when you need it: simply hit the question mark symbol and a chat function opens.

The video tutorial is self-explanatory. The app needs access to the camera and microphone on your device. You can add music to accompany the visual information, choose your text from a range of writing styles, and import recordings and photos. Reorder the steps if you wish.

Drafts can be deleted by pressing on the right hand upper corner of the image. You can upload your video and share it on social media.

You can also look for a short video if you wish to explain something. Each one indicates how many steps are involved. Navigation can be a bit tricky – it seems you cannot stop a video once you have clicked on it.

Could be used for: students exploring topics and as a teaching aid.

What I liked about it: It is easy to create videos – and they look professional.

Watch out for: A lot of the videos are advertising goods, so you might need to talk to your students about this.

Available from the Apple App Store.

More information here: https://jumprope.com/


Friday, 17th January 2020



Wabisabi: student portfolio assessment


From their website: “Schools around the world use Wabisabi to provide real-time portfolio based evidence of learning, make assessment transparent, reporting a breeze, and to keep parents and learners in the loop. Put your learners in charge of their learning, and of their future. Connect your class to any class in the world to learn from, with, and about each other.”

You need to decide to sign up (with a Gmail account or other email) as a ‘learner’, ‘teacher’ or family member’. I chose ‘teacher’. Nothing happened after that, so I switched over to the website and logged on there.

Set up a new classroom and select the age group. A short tutorial follows. Devise a class activity and add learners. Upload or create units and give feedback, either publicly or privately. It is quite intuitive and should be fun to play around with.

Could be used for: allowing students to create portfolios.

What I liked about it: real time feedback – even if your students are in a remote location.

Watch out for: the app didn’t work on my device.

Available from the Apple App Store.

More information here: https://wabisabizen.com and https://www.wabisabilearning.com/


Friday, 10th January 2020


Freegal – free music


From their website: “Freegal® is a free music service from your library. All you need is your library card number and possibly a PIN if your library utilizes them. Freegal offers access to about 15 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists, and over 40,000 music videos.”

Use your (free!) public library card to log in. If you provide your email you’ll receive twice weekly notifications of available downloads.

There is much to discover – music albums, songs and videos as well as audiobooks. Click on “browse” in the menu at the bottom. You can select “trending” or “new arrivals”, browse further by genre or use one of the playlists. “Featured” items might entice you to check out music you wouldn’t have before. There is a straight forward search function. Artists have their own page, which lists all songs, albums, playlists and videos available for them.

All music is available for streaming or download. You can also create your own playlist.

I looked for one of my favourite bands and was seriously impressed. The sound quality was excellent. There is a limit for downloads (4 per week), but streaming is unlimited.

Could be used for: everyday use. No need to pay for any other music streaming service.

What I like about it: all of this for free through your library membership!

Watch out for: for non-commercial purposes only (license for personal use).

Available from the Apple App Store and Google Play, and on Amazon. Or from the website: https://dcpl.freegalmusic.com/home

More information here: https://www.freegalmusic.com/home


Friday, 13th November 2019

Baby and child first aid app

Christmas is nearing – and we might be out visiting family and friends with babies and toddlers. What if there is a health emergency? Hopefully you will never need this, but just in case: The British Red Cross has released an app to help adults find quick answers.

The first tap is “tap here if you find yourself in an emergency”. Presumably this would connect you with emergency services, but this might only work in the UK.

The menu is hidden on the left hand side, so you need to swipe to the right. The ‘learn’ submenu has more information than the ‘emergency’ tap, which gives you only the most important steps. In alphabetical order it lists the most common emergencies. A video shows what you need to do, but there are also written instructions interspersed with animated graphics. A Q&A tackles some common misunderstandings – e.g. under “nose bleeding”, it discourages parents from making their child tilt the head back (something some of us had learned in First Aid lessons back in the 80s…).

The ‘prepare’ tap gives practical advice about possible hazards, such as electrical incidents and fire, but also everyday scenarios, such as “home and garden”, which e.g. reminds people to keep a list of local emergency numbers. There is also a test feature, where you can check your knowledge. You can also record a child’s medication and allergies as well as contact information.

Could be used for: an app you might want to check out before anything serious happens, but is easy enough to use to help you in an emergency.

What I like about it: it uses videos and written information, which allows for quick learning (especially when you are in a panic).

Watch out for: no oral clues to help people with visual impairments navigate the app. And, of course, it is no substitute for doing a First Aid course.

Available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play. There is also an version for adult First Aid.

More information here: https://www.redcross.org.uk/first-aid/first-aid-apps



Friday, 6th November 2019


Met Eireann app


Winter has truly arrived. Keep an eye on the weather with this handy aid by Met Eireann.

You need to allow the app to access your location in order to get your local forecast. Also, allowing notifications to be sent to you also might be useful as these include weather warnings.

The main screen shows a lot of information: national, marine and environmental (think pollen, UV and potato blight!) alerts; maps; a current outlook and a six day forecast for your area; as well as national, regional and marine & sea area summaries. The last one is very detailed and includes inland lakes. A ‘farming weather’ sub menu concludes the main overview.

Click on any of these categories for a fuller picture. The Ireland maps are particularly well done – a general overview is followed by rainfall radar and forecast as well as wind, temperature and pressure forecasts. There are graphs and numbers, but all is quite self explanatory.

You can also lookup locations on the island of Ireland – just use the search function in the top right corner.

Could be used for: outdoor activities (check on conditions before you head off), but also for discussions around weather and climate change.

What I like about it: easy to use.

Watch out for: could be complimented by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute’s app (https://www.yr.no/?spr=eng) for more accurate readings.

Available from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

More information here: https://www.met.ie/


Friday, 29th November 2019


Typorama: Text on Photo Editor 

Download the app. It automatically opens on the ‘stock images’ page. These are royalty free photos you can use (e.g. nature pictures). There is also a search function which looks through content from ‘Pixabay’ (also free access). Pick one. This is the canvas you use. You can also take your own pictures – the app then needs access to your camera.

You need to decide how you will use your creation – original size image, as a background wallpaper for your phone, or as part of a social media post. This will shrink the image to the required format. Next you need add the style of text and colours as well as shadow, gradient and ‘3D rotate’ effects. Erase bits of your work that you don’t want. The ‘background’ tap allows for overlaying pictures, filters and other adjustments. The menu is self-explanatory – and playing around with images is real fun.

When you are happy with your result, you can save it to your device and share it on social media.

Could be used for: any type of visual information you want to share with students or the wider school community.

What I like about it: you really need no design skills.

Watch out for: you have to upgrade to Typorama Pro to unlock more content and to remove the company’s logo from your creation.

Available from the Apple App Store.

More information here: http://www.apperto.com/typorama/


Friday, 15th November 2019



Today in History


From their website: “The BEST way to get key facts about iconic global events and fun facts from across the centuries, delivered right to your mobile device.”

The app runs a short tutorial at the beginning. Its main focus is on historic events. You can set the daily reminder (up to 5 events) and choose when and how often you receive notifications (you need to enable this option). Sign up with your Facebook or Twitter account or by email. You can also browse as a guest. Another short tutorial then highlights the main features.

‘Events’ list incidents that happened on today’s date, ‘Headlines’ show some of them in more detail.

‘Births’ and ‘deaths’ tend to list musicians, actors, sports people and a few politicians.

Categories, such as e.g. countries, cities, empires, religions and wars, group historic events together.

There is also a search option, which could entice students to follow up on information. The “quote of the day” is hidden in the main menu on the left hand side.

It is not clear what selection criteria are being used by the app – also, in terms of geographical spread, there seems to be a preference for North American and European content. As a starting point for discussions, however, it could serve a purpose.

Could be used for: history lessons, but also other subject areas and home work. And pub quizzes!

What I like about it: you can go back and forth in time. And lots of links between entries make it easy to follow a story.

Watch out for: although the app provides a connection to Wikipedia, for more in-depth information you might need to consult additional sources.

Available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: http://www.tihapp.com/


Friday, 8th November 2019


Science Glossary



Science Week (follow #ScienceWeek on Twitter), coordinated by Science Foundation Ireland, will take place 10-17 November 2019. Helping you to get into the swing of things, here is a handy app from science eduation website Visionlearning.

It is basically a glossary of terms used in STEM subjects. Simply touch ‘index’ in the left upper corner and an alphabetical list of words pops up on the left hand side. Scroll down or use the blue alphabet to select a specific letter. There is also a search function.

Each entry is succinct, but there are graphics and links to other terms. A great addition is the sub menu, which links to the website, where you will find extended articles, quizzes and other resources. A fabulous repository for anyone teaching or learning STEM subjects.

Could be used for: STEM subjects.

What I like about it: written by researchers and academics, all resources are targeted at non-scientists and explanations are easy to understand.

Watch out for: nothing to report:)

Available from the Apple App Store.

More information here: http://www.visionlearning.com. They also have more free science resources when you sign up as an educator, including podcasts.


Friday, 1st  November 2019



Friday, 25th October 2019


Zooniverse – people-powered research


The first thing to decide is whether or not you would like to receive notifications. Given that the purpose of this app is to work on new projects, it’s probably appropriate to allow these. You can always change this under ‘settings’, which is found in the menu on the right hand side.

Zooniverse is based on the wisdom of crowds. Researchers invite people to participate in their work: “from classifying galaxies to counting penguins to transcribing manuscripts.” Simply select an area of interest – they range from arts to natural science to social science. A beta review section tests projects in development. Citizen scientists are asked to watch videos or look at photos. There are no special skills involved and no prior knowledge necessary. Tutorials and field guides are available for each project. I selected ‘floating forests’, which looked at whether kelp, which builds these forests in the sea, was visible on the images provided as this could be an indication of warming oceans.

The ‘publications’ section contains a database of online articles of studies which have been written acknowledging the work of citizen scientists. There are different subject areas to be explored: space, climate, humanities, nature, medicine, and meta (which is looking at citizen science as a topic).
You can work as a guest user or register. The second option will if you want your contribution to be recognised in subsequent publications. For teachers it might make sense to sign up. Additionally, you could decide to start your own project. Information on how to do this is on their website. External project links might provide you with some inspiration.

Could be used for: getting students to think about how much work goes into discovering something new.

What I like about it: a real sense of contributing to science as all of these small steps add up.

Watch out for: it’s a bit frustrating to select a category and to see that the project has been concluded – ‘in-browser experience’ leads you to the website: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects

Available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: https://www.zooniverse.org/

For lesson plans click here: http://www.zooteach.org/?_ga=2.40999010.1757696563.1571914832-475386910.1571914832


Friday, 4th October 2019


ChatterPix – give your photos a voice

This is an app for younger children (with a simple, slightly babyish interface), but don’t let that deter you using it with older students. Chatterpix is a fun way of adding audio to a picture by making the photo “talk”.

A short animated video introduces the app. You can reload this by clicking on the arrow at the bottom of the screen. You need to give the app access to your camera and the microphone on your device. Take a picture (or choose one from your gallery). The next step involves drawing a line with your finger where the “mouth” of the photo will be. A hand appears to show you how to do that. You then need to record a short (funny?) message by clicking on the ‘microphone’ icon at the bottom of the screen. A three second countdown starts. The recording can last for up to one minute. Check your audio by clicking on the big arrow. If you want to redo it, simply use the microphone again.

If you’re happy with your creation, add some more features in the next step: change the colour of the photo or throw in some decorations and text. Your final product will be added to the ‘gallery’, where you can export it to your camera roll (and then share on social media).

More information about the team who created the app as well as their social media contact details are hidden behind the “i” icon. The “our apps” logo in the right hand corner of the screen leads you to Khan Academy’s Kids App page. There is also a version for children aged 6-12 called “ChatterPix Kids”.


Could be used for: people of all ages having a bit of fun with photos.

What I like about it: it could not be easier to use.

Watch out for: as always, make sure you have permission when taking pictures of others.

Available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: http://www.duckduckmoose.com/blog/creative-ways-to-use-chatterpix-in-the-classroom/


Friday, 13th September 2019


Civilisations – discovery history

The BBC are running a fascinating programme on human civilisation – and this is the app accompanying it. From their website: “Civilisations is an epic new series spanning 31 countries on six continents, and covering more than 500 works of art. Presenters SIMON SCHAMA, MARY BEARD and DAVID OLUSOGA will explore humanity’s desire to create. Alongside, the Civilisations Festival will bring museums’ treasures to life through innovative digital products and events.”

Agree to their terms first. You can decide whether or not to give them access to your camera – you should, because this app uses AR technology. And this is the exciting innovation which makes it so interactive. A tutorial helps you set up your device. You can listen to and/or read the instructions, which makes it accessible to a variety of learners. The introduction is really very well designed and easy to follow. Simply point your camera to a steady background (such as the floor) and the first artefact will appear in 3D on it. As by magic, I suddenly had the sarcophagus with a mummy inside in the library. And I took a picture of itJ. You can move, scale and rotate the item with your fingertips to explore it further.

The ‘book’ icon contains a short written explanation and further references.  There are more hidden special features and audio guides which the ‘spotlight’ helps you to discover. The ‘globe’ symbol brings you back to the main menu where you can select further topics, such as early civilisations, human body, faith, encounters, progress and modernity. A virtual globe shows you where each item was found. You can reset the app by selecting this option in settings.

Could be used for: Both History and Art classes.

What I liked about it: Very well designed and beautifully presented. It is a fantastic addition to the popular TV series.

Look out for: Some users might get dizzy when using AR technology.

Available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/GThNCvQtxsgJfJrxCxFJb2/civilisations-masterworks-of-beauty-and-ingenuity


Friday, 6th September 2019


SketchAR – drawing tool using AR technology

SketchAR helps you learn how to draw. No matter how talented or ungifted you think you are, this tool really gives you results.

The app asks you first whether you are left- or right-handed. The main menu is at the bottom of your screen. The category ‘school’ allows you to browse lessons and start on step-by-step drawings. ‘Courses’ start at beginner’s level, so should be doable for most people. Only the beginner course is free, though – more advanced ones require payment. ‘Lessons’ offers more templates.

Follow the instructions and start drawing using simple shapes. Choose between different types of pencils and markers – change the colour if you want. You can now use them by using your finger as a drawing aid. You can view a time lapse video of how you created the image and even share this via social media and email. This could be great fun for students. Your drawing can be further manipulated by clicking on the icons on the right hand side. The ‘library’ has many more patterns ranging from figures, flowers and animals to more complex sketches. If you allow the app access to your photos and camera, you can use your own pictures as inspirations.

Drawing with AR, however, makes it even more fun. A virtual assistant is very keen on helping – a short tutorial is hidden under ‘draw with AR’. Point your device to the floor, the wall or to a piece of paper (depending on what you’ve chosen in the sub menu) and see what your oeuvre looks like in a virtual reality environment. It takes a bit of time until you are able to hold your device and draw virtually at the same time. You are basically copying what you see on your screen.

Could be used for: creative students and teachers alike. It could also be very helpful if you want to create art on your classroom wall.

What I liked about it: really helpful for getting to grips with drawing using only your fingertips.

Look out for: paid services.

Available from the Apple App Store, on Google Play and from Microsoft.

More information here: https://www.sketchar.tech/

There are also video tutorials available in ‘settings’ as well as a chat function.

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