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Presentation Apps: A New Take on an Old Task

by Lindsey Fuller
June 19, 2013
For my recent Engage post, I asked my students to review apps we had used to create presentations in our classroom. The apps included a variety of tools for making traditional slide show displays. But the beauty of the devices we are using in our classroom is that we can go so much further, and break past those conventional boundaries.

With that in mind, I would like to share some of the apps my students utilized in creating presentations that were of the less traditional variety.

Pic Collage

We used Pic Collage (available for Apple and Android devices) for a variety of projects, but it was especially useful early on when my students were first learning to use their iPads. Before we got into the more complicated apps, Pic Collage gave them a chance to start learning how to navigate on their device and use the media they captured with the camera.

p: flickingerbrad via photopin cc
Our first project of the year was a "getting to know you" presentation in which students created a collage of pictures to represent themselves, which we then shared and discussed. We also used it to create photo collages around topics or characters we were studying, which students could then use to explain their ideas to their peers.

My students liked Pic Collage because it offered a variety of tools, options, and fun extras that they could use to make their photos and presentations unique. It was easy to use, reliable, and didn't require an account log in. They ran into some issues with editing/cropping photos, but nothing that made it unusable. This is an entertaining (free!) app that students enjoy using, and a perfect choice for simple classroom projects.

Prezi for iPad

We were pretty excited about the free Prezi app (available for Apple devices), as the web version creates such amazing, beautiful presentations. And these presentations can be viewed, presented, and to an extent edited on the iPad app. Unfortunately, the app does not contain all the templates and tools that are available on the web version, which seriously hampers its usefulness in the classroom. We hope that an update in the future will bring more functionality to the app.

For my students, it was not convenient to have to wait until we had access to the computer lab to set up or make certain changes to their presentations. We needed a stand-alone app, and that is not what this is. But the app does allow for access to the free services of the Prezi site, and is certainly useful for presenting Prezis that have already been made, as well as doing some limited editing.

ScreenChomp

Screencasting and flipped classrooms are all the rage, and there are a ton of apps out there designed to facilitate these types of learning. We used ScreenChomp (free; available for iPad) as more of an in-class tool to teach and discuss concepts. It functions well as a whiteboard, allowing for annotations as well as voice narration and video creation.

The app is similar to its peers, but it does have some advantages over others that make it very useful for the classroom. First off, no account is needed. This simplifies things and makes it very quick and easy to utilize. The tools are basic and simple to use, making it perfect for younger students. My students liked the ability to add a slide as well as the ability to erase mistakes. Sharing is quite easy, and the finished video can be downloaded from the web.

The drawbacks are that the simplicity means it may not be quite as versatile as other apps in terms of tools and capabilities, and direct export onto the device isn't supported. But if you are looking for an easy-to-learn tool for creating quick explanations, this is an excellent place to start.

iMovie

This app ($4.99; available for Apple devices) is at the top of the list for classroom creation and presentation. For one thing, kids love to make movies. We used it to make videos about Martin Luther King, Jr., to explain aspects of weather, to record their reflections of our iPad classroom, and for a multitude of other projects. In my classroom, I had to specify that my students couldn't use iMovie for certain projects, in order to push my students out of an app rut.

iMovie is simply an incredible tool for creating video presentations. It can be used for anything from simple photo slide shows to more complex narrated videos. My students liked that all their media was easily accessible from within the app, and they loved using the premade formats for trailers. They also liked that they could use their own music as well as the provided tunes. Sharing and exporting were easy, and a number of options for social media sharing are built right in to the app.

iMovie has some drawbacks, as most apps do. The cost is prohibitive for some classrooms, although it does qualify for the educational discount. It is fairly easy to learn the basic functions of the app, but the more intricate tasks require some instruction and guidance from someone who is experienced with the app. It was not one that I could turn my students loose with and expect for them to discover all of its capabilities. One aspect that my students disliked was that text-only slides had to be created in another app and then imported as an image, as text creation is not an option within the app (except as captions).

Overall, though, iMovie is a flexible and incredibly engaging tool for students, and I cannot imagine my classroom without it.

The opportunity for creativity, for both students and educators, expands exponentially as technology becomes readily available in more and more classrooms. Moving beyond the barriers and expectations of the past is imperative if we want to see the full benefit of classroom technology, and apps like these are helping to bring about this exciting revolution.

Lindsey Fuller is a sixth grade teacher in Decatur, Illinois. Her interests are classroom technology integration, literacy instruction, and Common Core curriculum development and implementation. You can read more from Lindsey on these topics at her blog, Tales of a 6th Grade Classroom.

© 2013 Lindsey Fuller. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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