Windows 8 Apps for Creating a Socially Connected Classroom

Guest Post by Trent Ray Microsoft Expert Educator - Originally posted at Doing 'IT' for the kids.

You would be hard pressed to find a secondary school student today without a device in their pocket, connect to the world’s knowledge with a handful of apps keeping them socially connected. It might seem strange to preceding generations that students of today have up to a 1000 friends online and it’s considered normal.

October 16-25 was Digital Citizenship week and it got me thinking about how I integrate digital competencies into my teaching. We know that general ICT capabilities are now something we should be embedding throughout many curriculum areas, but how do we squeeze in opportunities for students to develop the necessary skills to be safe and responsible users of technology when the curriculum is already chockers?

I have the pleasure of being an ICT coach and one of the biggest hurdles I face, when I suggest the concept of using social networks in the classroom, is the fear that students may say or do something inappropriate. I say let’s embrace it. School is a time for learning from our mistakes and sometimes we don’t learn unless we fail. The opportunity to reflect on how we would do it differently next time is the richest learning of any experience. If we can provide students with opportunities to explore social connectedness in the classroom then we have a window of opportunity to discuss strategies for building a positive digital reputation.

So what motivates students to ‘get social’ online and how can we bring this concept into the classroom to optimise engagement?

The feedback I have received from learners in my classroom is that opportunities to create and share their learning online…

  • Provides an authentic audience for their work. Some might argue that the teacher and other students in the classroom is enough, however the power of purpose enhances engagement.
  • Gives students opportunities to be measured – by real people! What students doesn’t enjoy receiving likes and ratings? By sharing creations online students are motivated to increase output effort because they know their work is being viewed and sometimes judged.
  • Allows for exploration of what is possible through sharing ideas and viewing other student work. This promotes the generation of new ideas. For students to see other users’ creations often inspires them to create something ‘better’, see what is possible or replicate/refine ideas to develop their own creations.

Here are my Top 4 Free Creative Social Apps where students can create and share their work in a social network environment


Students can create their own Games using Physamajig! Play physics games to consolidate understanding and apply knowledge of physics concepts by using the tools to explore behaviour of objects. Games created can be share and played with the Physamijig community.


Ever wanted to create explanation videos.Didlr allows you to draw and it plays it back just how you drew it. Instantly share your Didlr’s online with other Didlr users! How could you use didlr in your classroom?


With a photo editor, collage creator and drawing tool create brilliant artwork and share instantly online to the PicsArt network connecting users to like-minded creatives worldwide to share art, be discovered and inspired by and inspire others.

Touch Develop

Coding made super simple. Build your first App and publish it online. Play games developed by other Touch Develop users or share your link with the world. Great tool to integrate with creating writing in literacy, computational thinking in maths or computer programing!

For more App ideas for the classroom click here and here.

*Before asking your students to sign up to any of these networks it is important that you review the Terms of Service for each platform and ensure that you adhere to user age limits, privacy policy and acceptable use requirements. It’s always important to gain consent from parents/guardians if students under the age of 13 – 15.

Guest Post By

Trent Ray - eLearning Leading Teacher, St Helena Secondary College

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Trent Ray is a passionate teacher currently working as an eLearning Leading Teacher at St Helena Secondary College in the North Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne. In addition to his leadership role he teaches Science and Technology to Junior Secondary classes.

His educational philosophy has always been 'doing it for the kids’. To him this means putting student’s needs first and always trying to find new ways to provide meaningful learning opportunities for them. His passion for kids, learning and all things technology has been the driving force in his pursuit to becoming a leading educator in the 21st Century.


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