Students use apps every day of their lives on their smartphones, tablets and PCs, yet many would never consider using them to aid their learning. The Windows store has an ever-growing selection of education apps for Windows 8 and Windows phone, all of which could enhance your students’ learning by helping you to introduce technology into the classroom.
In further education, strict curriculum criteria often restricts teachers’ choices, as you have to cover certain topics and exam techniques in order for your students to succeed, but this shouldn’t restrict you from making learning exciting for your students. Not only are there thousands of education apps, there are also a lot of apps which aren’t strictly educational which can be used to enhance learning.
All Windows 8 apps use the embedded share, pin and search functions, which make research and learning quicker and easier for the user. If you’re unfamiliar with these functions, here’s a quick overview.
- Share – shares content by email, to OneNote (Windows 8 app), with your contacts in the people hub and any other sharing app (Facebook, Twitter etc.).
- Pin – pin content and pages to your start screen for later reference (a little like bookmarks, but available for any app as well as your browser).
- Search – search any content within any of your apps.
Let’s start with Wikipedia. The well known, free, online encyclopaedia comes to Windows 8 and Windows Phone, enabling users to search more than 20 million articles in 280 languages.
Benefits to education:
- Students can quickly search for information in class to broaden their understanding without the need to interrupt the teacher and other students’ learning.
- Pin pages related to a project and group into a section on the start screen for easy access when researching and completing the project.
- Sharing an article to OneNote will copy the content and a sourcing link, making referencing easier for students.
- Look up today’s history on the home page and show students relevant content in relation to your subject. This will encourage students to think more broadly about subjects they’re studying rather than simply the content of the syllabus they are being taught.
Next up is the Kno Textbooks app, which provides over 200,000 eTextbooks for students from school right through to Higher Education.
What’s different to normal textbooks?:
- As all your textbooks are stored on your Windows 8 device, there’s no need for you or your students to lug heavy textbooks around. There’s also no excuse for leaving their textbook at home as they’re accessible anywhere.
- All content within every textbook is searchable using the search tool in the charms bar. This enables you and students to find the content you need quickly and easily rather than worrying about contents pages and indexes.
- Highlighter – Text can be highlighted in different colours, which represents the significance to the reader: Important, Definition, Needs clarification, For assignment, Key reference. The number of highlighted sections are shown next to the book’s cover image on the homepage. As a teacher, you can highlight the content you want your students to be aware of and project onto a screen. If students fall behind writing notes, they can easily find where you are without needing to interrupt your flow.
- Notes – notes can be added to content in the eTextbook which allows students to make notes next to relevant content during lessons rather than using a separate piece of paper referring them to a page in their textbook. With hardcopy textbooks, students cannot highlight or add notes as the books are likely to be passed on to future students.
Finally, My Study Life is a fantastic planner for students and teachers alike, and is designed to make your life easier by storing your school life in the cloud so that it follows you wherever you go.
For teachers, this app provides a simple ‘one-stop’ place where you can see your timetable and plan your preparation time for each class. You can see how much of a lesson you have left to plan in the tasks section, and can relate it to a specific class. You can also include assignments you have set your students with a due date, which will help you keep on top of which class’ assignments are due when.
As with all Windows 8 apps, you can search the app to find out more information about an assignment or class, and can get notifications of everything you need to know when you’re not in the app using the live tile.
Have you got any favourite Windows 8 apps for your classroom?