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CDETB Curriculum Development Unit | Apps of the week
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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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