Mobile Learning | Feature

The 4 Essential Organization Apps For Your Classroom—And Tons of Ideas For Using Them

As we move deeper into the digital world, it becomes increasingly critical that we utilize the technology at our fingertips to get (and stay) organized. But where to start? Here are four great apps that will help you and your students utilize mobile technologies to get organized in the classroom.


Evernote

evernote app icon

Evernote is an online notebook that allows you to sync notes among various devices. The app is available for all mobile devices and computers: Android, Apple, and Windows, and has features that let you use it online and off.

As you begin to get organized with Evernote, you'll start by creating notebooks, which are basically a repository of your individual notes on a given topic or theme. You can handwrite notes or type them out and add photos, audio recordings, and searchable tags, known as keywords. If you decide to share a notebook with others, the app will automatically update itself for all users every time you make changes. (So no more photocopying multiple pages and handing them to the people who need them.)

So how do I use this in my classroom? Well, there are a few ways. For foreign language class, you can have students make recordings in the language they are studying. Or, for any grade level, create a portfolio of work. This can be used for APAs, documenting student abilities, justifying accommodations, or just having a record of work. In addition, students can create portfolios to give to their next year teacher or for college or job applications. Throughout the year, students can organize their notebooks, adding subjects as they go along. No longer do teachers have to ask students to buy notebooks for class. They are all here--electronically--and available at the tap of an icon. We can ask that our students share their notebook with us as well. This way when parent-teacher meeting time rolls around, we can show how the student takes notes and organizes class work.

As educators, we have all been asked to provide a copy of our notes for students from time to time. Now we can share them with all of our students--ensuring everyone gets the same information. We can also take snapshots of the board, of lab experiments, or other classroom activities so even students who are on vacation or our for extended periods of time can feel that they are part of our classroom and keep up with the work they miss. We can also create a list of resources and web links that students can access at home or at school.


Dropbox

dropbox app icon

Dropbox is a web-based storage service that allows users to share files and folders among multiple mobile devices. Both free and paid space is available.

Even with the free version, users can “earn” more space by completing tasks such as an introduction tutorial and tweeting about Dropbox. You can add files just as you would load them onto a flash drive or other folder on your computer. If you open a file on a mobile device, there is an option to move to Dropbox. Files and folders can also be shared with other people as well--even if they are not Dropbox users.

One of the major benefits of Dropbox is automatic syncing, which removes the hassle of worrying about which copy is the most current version of the file. And since Dropbox is cross- platform, you don't have to worry about what computer you are using. You can access Dropbox from an app or program installed on the computer, or via the web.

So how do I use this in my classroom? As teachers, we often create handouts and other files to share with students. But now we can share a folder from Dropbox, and give the link to our students. No more copying papers, or having a student tell you he or she lost the paper you gave them. You can also scan work for APAs, and share the link with those who need access to the files. Students themselves can create folders to share with teachers, whether this contains work from the current class or work being submitted to a future teacher. During parent-teacher conferences, teachers can pull up any given document, and even share with parents. Now, anywhere a student is, he or she has access to all the classroom files and resources.

As teachers, we are always scrambling to create sub plans. Now, have easy access to uploading rosters, assignments, and other information for access by a sub. You can share the folder and e-mail it to your school, where the attendance officer or another teacher can print your lessons. You can also create folders to share among a grade level or among department(s). Working from the Dropbox, you are always working with the most recent version of your file.

inClass

inclass app icon

inClass is a customizable agenda/planner designed specifically for school use. As students use this year over year, they can go back and look at their work, as well as view notes from previous years and classes. Through inClass, students are able to create classes and assignment categories, color-code courses, schedule homework and projects, mark classes as lecture or lab, and take notes. Students can record audio notes, video capture notes on the board or use the camera to take a snapshot of the board. In addition, students can share notes with other inClass users. Notes can be e-mailed, or backed up through iTunes file sharing. The agenda can be shared among multiple devices, as long as it is an iOS device.

So how do I use this in my classroom? As with the other apps discussed, there are many different school uses. Probably the biggest is that this electronic agenda replaces a paper agenda. Students have continuous access to the agenda, and access on multiple devices. We've all heard the student who asks, “How do I get organized?” Now, students will have access to a powerful organizational tool at the touch of a button. Students can also share their agendas with their teachers, as well as their parents.

From our perspective, we can set up our own classes, posting homework, notes, and other classroom materials. We can share our agenda with students and parents. Instead of carrying around huge notebooks every time we do a notebook check, we can now look at electronic versions. When students are absent, or gone for extended periods of time, they now have access to all the information missed, and no longer have to wait until they return to get missed work.


PaperPort Notes

paperport notes app icon

PaperPort Notes is a fantastic way to upload notes, copy teacher files, and mark up files. PaperPort Notes integrates with many other apps, including Dropbox and Google Docs. Use it to import files from your computer, the web, or file sharing services like Dropbox, or box. You can also open the file using a variety of other apps, including QuickOffice, PDF, Skitch, e-readers, Edmodo, DocuSign Ink, inClass, and Evernote, and send the file to a printer.

PaperPort Notes easily allows you to write directly on PDFs imported into the app. Include recorded notes, handwritten notes, typed notes, or use Dragon speech recognition to speak your notes and have them converted to text. With PaperPort Notes, you have the option of blank pages, lined paper (yellow or white), or graphing paper. Insert other files into your current notes as well. As you create new notes, you can add borders, stickies (post-it notes), and textboxes to annotate images. Use pencils, pens, and highlighters to mark up files or add to existing files.

So how do I use this in my classroom? Let students download teacher-posted resources, and use these resources as the starting point for their own notes. Have them mark up the teacher resources, highlighting some information and typing notes in others. If students have e-books or PDF books for their classes, they can highlight and write in those books. When students have research papers due, they can snap pictures of the quotes to turn in and to refer back to when writing the papers, reducing the likelihood that they will forget where their quotes came from. Students can also record experiments, and insert those recordings or pictures into their lab reports. When working across grade levels, older students can share files with younger students, and vice-versa. Students can create a true multimedia portfolio of work for future reference.

From a teacher’s perspective, you can now give students outlines as a starting point for class notes. In addition, you can record students and share those recordings during teacher assessments. Teachers can also create portfolios of student work for APAs and other assessments. If the teacher’s edition is available as an e-book or PDF, teachers can mark up the teacher’s edition with notes and highlights, rather than bookmarks and post-it notes.

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