Mobile Classroom Tech

3 Awesome Free Apps for Going Paperless

These standout apps make managing classroom workflow a snap.

Showbie

Showbie
Price: Free ("Pro" version is $11.99/month)
Platforms: iOS and Web
Grades: 5-12

Showbie is a favorite of many teachers owing to its super-slick design and full feature set. It's an all-in-one solution for assigning and grading student work. And while it's well suited to iPad classrooms, students and teachers' work syncs to the Web, too, so you can use any device.

There's support for student portfolios, notifications, integration of third parties such as Google Drive and Dropbox and a variety of ways to turn in and grade work from pictures to videos to voice memos. Some of the best features — such as the text tool — will cost you, but given how much use you could potentially get out of Showbie, it might just be worth it.

Handouts

Handouts
Price: Free ("Pro" version is $7.99/month)
Platforms: Android, iPad
Grades: 2-6

The big selling point for Handouts is its ease of use. It might not be as flexible as something like Showbie, but it picks one thing — assigning and grading worksheets — and does that well.

Given its simplicity and the focus on using pen tools and images to complete and grade work, we thought it'd be a nice fit in the lower grades where students will particularly benefit from a lack of distractions. It'd also be a good option if you're just looking to dip your toe into the world of paperless workflow and don't want to get too overwhelmed.

For teachers looking for a broader set of options for annotation, though, it might feel limiting. 

Classkick

Classkick
Price: Free
Platforms: iPad
Grades: 6-12

Classkick is a bit different from Showbie and Handouts because it blends going paperless with formative assessment. Teachers send out assignments to students and can monitor students as they work. There are a lot of options for completing assignments and giving feedback, including adding images, drawing, inputting text and adding Web links; students and teachers share all these tools for creation, opening up possibilities beyond traditional worksheets.

One especially notable feature lets students raise their hands in-app, signaling to teachers they need extra help or even need to ask other students for help.

This emphasis on real-time feedback, from both teachers and peers, is a welcome modification to the typical "hand out, return, grade, return" cycle that's cumbersome and time-consuming.

About the Author

Common Sense Education helps educators find the best edtech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Go to Common Sense Education for free resources including full reviews of digital tools, ready-made lesson plans, videos, webinars, and more.


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