10 Top Education Apps for 2015


Guest post by Matthew Jorgensen 

First of all, forgive me for the terrible pun.  I am a bit app-rehensive about such an obvious joke, and wasn’t sure if everyone would app-reciate it.  But the fact is that the Windows Store is bursting at the seams with juicy educational apps ripe for the picking.  Now, because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, I want to share some of my favourites with you! You can also download the latest 2015 Apps guide here.

 

Teachers all around the world engage their students in the learning process via Minecraft. This procedural game is rooted in Mathematics and Earth Science and can be played individually or by a multiplayer world hosted on a server. The world is made of blocks which measure 1m3, and players can mine objects like iron ore and wood and then craft the mined items into products like a pick axe. In creative mode, students can build houses and villages. 

Turtle! is a visual, drag and drop programming tool that mirrors the successful Logowriter of 30 years ago. Lovers of Scratch will instantly gel with the simple interface and controls. Turtle! also has a debugging mechanism to help users perfect their scripts. This is great for teaching about the sides and angles of regular polygons.  For example, by using the Pen Down block, students can write a script to draw a heptagon.  The only way to find out more is to play it now!

  

Tinkerplay allows the user to create 3D designs to be printed. This tool allows students to manipulate a 3D object to become familiar with its properties and the different views from different angles.  However, it exists to allow the user to create 3D creatures with a pre-existing library of arms, legs and assorted body parts.  Students will have hours of fun creating aliens and monsters for printing or just to accompany their Science Fiction story. The spatial awareness that will be developed through the use of the app makes it a great STEM tool.

NASA has produced two stylish and fun apps for the Windows Store. The Mars Rover app lets your explore the Rover’s features and drive it on the Mars landscape. The supporting website is outstanding. The other NASA app is called Be a Martian, which uses images and information from NASA that transports you to planet Mars. There are also many other apps not made by NASA that use its data.

Physamajig replicates realistic physics rules by allowing users to create games. We’ve all played Angry Birds, which is a good example of the types of games that you can make. Gravity, friction, bounciness and other phenomenon are added to games through objects that ae drawn onto the game. There are games to play or remix to customise, and you can even create vehicles and dolls using joints.

Doodleinator is a handy little animator, great for showing a sequence such at the lifecycle of a plant or frog. It is very simple to use and can be exported as a movie.  The animation is helped by an onion skinning function that allows you to see what you drew in the previous slide. Doodleinator is an app that is optimised with the Surface and stylus, and is brilliant for combining cartoon animations with an explanation task

I like Music Maker Jam because it is fun and easy. Students will love the aesthetic of the interface, and the sounds they can create are awesome. Why use other people’s music when you can create your own? Dubstep is the free genre of choice, and after a few minutes exploring, students will be creating professional sounds and wicked beats.Headphones or buds are a must for this cool app, and any song created can be easily exported to .mp3 format. 

Movie Edit Touch can turn your tablet into an easy to use mobile studio, great for editing video and still images into effective movies.  Another app optimised for touch (Surface 4 especially), MET supports a wide range of file formats including .avi, .flv and .mp4. The free version will support your students and enable a more user-friendly, touch editing experience than Movie Maker. MET has a premium version that packs in more features to make your videos even more professional

FluidMath is an amazing app that claims to ‘bring your handwritten math to life’.  It is a handwriting-based tool that is designed for students and teachers in Years Six to Twelve.  It boosts the touch device’s capability to cater for the need to use handwriting when completing Mathematics problems.  But more than that, it intuitively determines the graphs, widgets, animations and tables that you need from the algorithms that you create. It is a remarkable experience witnessing your calculations come to life.

iXplain is a simple screencasting app, designed for teachers to record a lesson or for students to explain something. It has been created to leverage the use of a stylus and voice in the explanation process. After completion, the demo can be rendered as a .mp4 video and easily shared. This app is prefect for creating quick and simple explanation videos that don’t need to become a big production.

 

Don’t take my list as being a definitive one.  There are so many great apps in the store that can be used in the classroom by teachers and students alike.  Not only that, the list is growing longer every day.  There are innovative apps that can transform the teaching and learning process, enabling you to do things like flipping a lesson or enabling students to create learning objects.  Coupled with powerful tools like the Microsoft Surface and stylus, these apps will deliver fun and innovative learning experiences.

Download the full apps guide here and check out our top apps-by-subject lists below - all available today in the Windows Store.

By Matthew Jorgensen

Matthew is a teacher on the Gold Coast and QSITE Gold Coast Chapter Chair. He is a also Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Master Trainer.

Comments (1)

  1. Moftare says:

    Thanks Matthew! Moftare also wrote on “Top Education Apps” which compliments this list and could be useful for students

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