6 Apps That Allow Collaboration on the iPad

The school year has come to an end, and a semester of 1:1 with iPads is under our belts.  Did we take education to a whole new level?  Maybe not a WHOLE NEW level, but I feel we definitely took some very large steps in the right direction.  However, as I reflect back on this semester and look forward to next school year, I ask myself, Did we make the right move going with iPads instead of laptops?

Differentiation vs. Collaboration

The longer I submerse myself in grad school classes that all focus on Integrated Technology, the word that keeps popping up is collaboration.  I know collaboration is a skill not just in 21st century learning, but in 21st century business.  It’s essential to know how to find and work together with other resources.  And when I reflect back to what I was able to accomplish in my own classroom with iPads, I don’t think I achieved true collaboration, although on occasion I may have been on the cusp.  To me, true collaboration is having two or more students using their own iPad to work on the same project.  
On a plus note, I think I was able to achieve differentiation more effectively, which is also not an easy task to do but made easier thanks to the iPads.  However, I really want to take the learning to the next level.  I want to take it beyond the four walls of my classroom and teach these students that learning exists everywhere.  I want to teach them how to find outside resources or people and collaborate with them, thus preparing them for the jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Google Docs

Every educator with an iPad has thought it, but I’m going to go ahead and say it…Google Docs on the iPad is terrible.  Which is a shame, because Google Docs has insane collaborative capabilities on the laptop or desktop computers.  Some even say that Google Docs is slowly killing off Microsoft and their suite of programs, putting Microsoft on the defense

The List

Now that school’s over, I have been able spend a little more time researching this – can iPads achieve the same collaborative capabilities as the laptop?  Here are some that I found on my own or through my grad school cohort that I think put iPads at the same level.
  • Evernote – The more I play around with this app, the more I love it and see its capabilities as a true collaborative tool.  Students can not only take notes with voice recordings or photos within it, it saves EVERYTHING!  Students can also share their notes, not in real time like Google Docs, but a nice alternative nonetheless. I’ll report more once I get this one tested in the field.
  • Notability – Think of Evernote, but with the ability to annotate over notes and PDF’s using your own handwriting.  I’ve used Notability this year to not only to leave hand-written marks on students’ writing turned in through email, but I also give them audio comments that go more in depth.  Then I email it back.  I have also had students do this to each other’s as peer review.  The cool part?  You can have multiple recordings on the same document.  The author can hear 3-5 other reviewers within the same document.  The critical depth they are able to achieve is pretty remarkable.  I know, because I have them email the rough draft with the comments along side the final draft.
  • VoiceThread – This is an app that was brought to my attention recently through my grad school cohort.  A person is able to post a video, audio clip, or PDF, and anyone else can leave comments in similar mediums.  I see this as a viable collaborative tool when I have something to share with students that pertains to a text we are reading, and I want to get their feedback.  Students are able to read, listen and see their classmates’ feedback on the same topic.  This one fits collaboration AND differentiation.  
  • Skitch – Again, not a true collaborative tool, but can act as one.  Just as Notability allows one to annotate notes and PDF’s, Skitch does quick work on annotating pictures.  It allows you to pull in pictures from websites, photo album, or take a quick photo.  Then, using the built in tools, you can write, type, highlight, and even add shapes.  I usually have students take photos of common writing mistakes, and we will annotate them to fix them.  Or vice versa, we will point out excellent examples of writing.
  • Reflection – I will admit, this one is not an app for the iPad, but I think it still allows one to do collaboration.  Reflection is a utility you download onto your laptop.  It then allows you to Airplay any iPad to your laptop (which I recommend having it connected to a projector so everyone in the classroom can see as well).  We use this one frequently in my classroom to share out projects, ideas, examples, etc.  It allows any student in my room to share what’s on their iPad with everyone else in the room.  
  • Tapose – Looks very promising and cool.  I currently have it downloaded, but haven’t had a chance to give it a real-life test run to see what capabilities it has in the classroom.  According to its website, the creators of Tapose tout that it is “The ONLY iPad application to offer advanced cross collaboration.”
These are just six apps that could be used as collaboration, but I’m always looking for more.  I’m still looking for that Google Doc replacement, although I’ve come to realize I may not find one.  
To answer the question that I posed at the beginning of this blog – YES, I do believe we made the right choice when going with iPads.  In another post I’ll discuss how iBooks (a feature only on the iPad) transformed my English classroom.
Mr. Bormann
English Rocks!
P.S. If you know of any apps that allows the iPad to become the ultimate collaborative tool, share it in the comments below.

One response to “6 Apps That Allow Collaboration on the iPad

  1. Great set of apps. I noted the Tapose app. Will download it to try it. I will be interested in your opinion on it.

    Apps are useful but it is how we use them that fosters collaboration.



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