I said I would eventually get round to writing a blog post on the apps we use here at Juniper Hall, and here it is! As we’re not always in classrooms (as expected, as we are field studies tutors, after all!), tablets are really valuable resources for recording data in new and interesting ways. They’re even better in the rain, as they don’t disintegrate like paper does- and before you question, “don’t Ipads die in the rain?”- yes they do, but not with Lifeproof covers on them!
They’ve even been dropped in the river before and survived!
I’m not going to mention all of the apps we use, just because there are so many, but here’s a top 5 of my favourites.
- Freezepaint: Remix the world around you with FreezePaint – the easiest way to create fun, strange, impressionistic or beautiful compositions.
Coming in at number 5, Freezepaint is fantastic for making layered photo collages in the field. When up on the Burford Spur or the Woodlands, we use it for showing the difference in vegetation across a gradient, or between two different areas. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would be useful, with its smiling dog logo, but it’s actually a great way of visualising change where it might not be instantly obvious there’s a difference!
- Dropbox: Dropbox is the place for your photos, docs, videos, and other files. Files you keep in Dropbox are safely backed up and you can get to them from all your devices. It’s easy to send large files to anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account.
Dropbox is so useful from day-to-day! It’s not quite as fancy and exciting as the other apps, but it’s so helpful, I just had to include it. Cloud storage is super useful, especially in this line of work, as it means you can get resources out in the middle of nowhere (if you have the mobile data for it). Pretty great if you forget something! The best bit for the teachers about cloud storage is they can access files from school once they head home from Juniper Hall.
- Popplet: Popplet is the simplest tool to capture and organize your ideas. With Popplet you can quick jot down your ideas and sort them visually.
This is my favourite new mindmap generator. The app costs a little money, but there’s a free web version as well. You can add text, pictures, lines between as many boxes as you can possibly think of… videos as well! If you’re really clever with it, you can turn it into a presentation as well, which is a bit more exciting than using another powerpoint…
New astronomy resources using Popplet
- Night Sky: Just point your device to the sky to identify stars, planets, constellations and even satellites!
Although I’ve not used this much in teaching yet, Night Sky is a fantastic little app that I instantly downloaded onto my phone. It projects loads of information onto a phone or ipad; constellations (with pictures!), stars, the planets… sometimes you see the International Space Station whizz past as well. I’ve been developing some new stargazing resources for night walks, and this is an app that’s definitely making an appearance. It can tell you all about the different things in the sky, and there’s a pretty nifty “red light” version that you can switch to so you don’t ruin your night vision.
Ursa Major, the Great Bear
- Skitch: See something that sparks an idea? Use Skitch to snap it, mark it up, and send it on in an instant. Your bold ideas stand out even brighter with Skitch.
Skitch is definitely my favourite app out there. It’s a really simple way of creating annotated photos, which are great to have in coursework. There are loads of different things you can add to a photo- text, stickers, highlighting- so it’s really versatile. You can also annotate a map of wherever it is you find yourself, or a webpage or PDF if you really wanted to. Makes it useful for studying, as well as for using out in the field.
Not the best annotated photo, but it’s speedily done
So there you go, some really great apps you should all download. Enjoy!