Friday, 22 March 2013

Using free iPad apps to create stunning classroom presentations

Free iPad apps to help create stunning classroom presentations

Creating epic, visually stimulating presentations is a goal I definitely set myself whenever I’m preparing a new lesson plan, and I’m sure it’s something many of you do as well. It takes time: tweaking, reinventing and reviewing each presentation slide, whether they’re created using PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote.

But do they have to be so time-consuming? And what alternatives are there to save us time while injecting creativity?

I’ve been experimenting, simply by using an alternative presentation, and found that learners became more reactive to the content. It seems that this slight deviation from the way I usually deliver my lesson was successful in raising their engagement levels.

If you’re fortunate enough to teach using an iPad or have a mobilised classroom of iPad learners, you’ll be surprised at the availability of high-quality apps for use in lesson delivery.

Here’s a round-up of our recommended free iPad apps that both you and your learners will want to add to your list of must-haves!

Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is a free iPad app that enables users to create visually-impressive slides in minutes. While some presentation software tools are developed specifically for academic purposes, Haiku Deck is also great for innovating sales pitches, supporting seminar talks and delivering imaginative product demonstrations. This is part of its appeal, as it’s a great tool to call on for mixing up group tasks and assigning small projects that require students to focus on the delivery of their presentations, making them appealing and listener-orientated.

The application works by using your descriptive text to recommend free images from its gallery of millions so you can design bite-sized slides that reinforce text with relevant imagery or graphs. It also allows you to browse and upload your own images and to create unique graphical designs to convey statistics.

For me, Haiku Deck is not something I’d use on a day-to-day basis but it offers a great alternative to switch to if your learners are having particular difficulties grasping a challenging topic or abstract concept.


‘Flipped’ or ‘reversed’ classroom teaching are the buzz words in education at the moment and, while teaching practices and lesson strategies can trend and fade, video-based learning is likely to become more and more significant in teaching and learning with the rise in accessible mobile technology.

Yet whether the classroom is flipped, you’re assigning preparatory lesson tutorials, or you simply want to inject a visual stimulus into your lesson delivery – creating engaging and effective classroom videos can be a daunting challenge. Never fear, the wonderful iOS developers out there have come up with a few alternatives.

Educreations - teach what you know
Educreations is one such example. Essentially, by turning your iPad into a whiteboard simulator, everything you do is recorded and stored. The user starts with a blank canvas and inserts images, graphs, diagrams and other visual aids to then encircle, underline or add supportive text to. All of which is being recorded and once finished can be shared or uploaded.

Educreations is ideal if students are missing from a class or you want to record a particularly important lesson (not to say they’re all not!).

For use in flipped classroom teaching, the application can be a useful additional resource to your teaching toolkit, but advocates of best practice would argue that a more stimulating and visually impactful resource is needed in preparatory tasks to encourage student participation. Educreations is a functional app and as such there are minimal reporting functions, which can also inhibit its suitability in supporting flipped teaching.


How-to guides are generally one of the most popular video genres, with millions of us googling walkthroughs on anything from changing a car headlight to creating a culinary delight from the left-over roast dinner. We all will have searched for a bite-sized guide to solving a problem and oftentimes will have viewed an amateur or home-made recommendation.

Snapguide enables a user to create surprisingly professional-looking how-to guides and to share them easily with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and most other popular social networks.

Each multi-step guide can be customised to include images, text and video – all of which are edited from your iPad.

For me, as a teacher, this is a great tool for illustrating directions and instructions, or to define lesson and course objectives. Students can benefit too, an example took place recently in my Chemistry class when I prepared a short how-to guide explaining the process for carrying out an experiment on reflection and refraction. Snapguide was simple to use and enabled me to add descriptive text alongside a video walkthrough. During class, students watched the clip on their group iPad, then in their learning pods they were tasked with replicating the experiment and filming the process, which was then sent to me at the end of the class for marking and feedback.

These are just a few of the apps available that make lesson life all-round more creative and engaging. I’m sure you’ve found your own, which have helped your teaching practices – please share in the comments section below…

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