Apps in the Art Room

Loads of teachers and students are now using apps such as Pinterest, Behance and Art Stack. On this page I will review my favorite apps relevant to art education. For each app I will provide some extra resources on how to manage it in the classroom.

The first few Apps are productivity apps, while the rest are more art related. If you have any apps that you love to use, email me and I can add them to the page.


1. Pinterest
Many teachers and students have discovered Pinterest. Its an app that has made art research much more accessible to those who don't have access to galleries and expensive books. Pinterest allows you to collect and share images in an online pinboard setting. Users can make unlimited 'boards' to which images, videos and links can be easily added. I've made a whole page dedicated to Pinterest so this review is brief. 

Pros
Easy to use: New users can quickly sign up using their Facebook account and you can be creating boards in moments. Pinning new items and re-pinning existing ones is easily done on both PC and portable devices. 
Sharing is caring: Pins can be shared via email to students and comments can be placed outlining the content and one's impression of it. You can 'follow' other pinners and the more you follow the more you see. It's good to try and add pins from the web so that things don't get too stale.
Follow, Follow Me: You can follow your students and they can follow you. This means you can all research together and broaden each other's horizons. By checking out what your students are pinning you can gain an appreciation of their interests and ideas. You can ask your students to create specific boards for each task.


Cons
Its addictive!: Many teachers and students have become really addicted to using Pinterest and at times its hard to pull students away from their research to actually do some work.
Copyright Issues: The ownership of images and surrounding copyrights issues are dubious. Pinterest discourages people from pinning their own images for this reason. It's really frustrating when pins are not cited correctly, making it almost impossible for students to track down the artists' names. 
Board management: It's hard to figure out the best way to manage your boards, and without care your boards can easily spiral out of control. My first 'painting' board quickly grew to 1000 pins and took me 10 minutes to scroll to the bottom. 

Cost: Nada
Rating: 10/10
Where can I get it?: Online or via App Stores

Check out the Pinterest page for more details and resources

 


2. Google Drive
Lots of schools are now using Google Drive. Drive is a cloud based application which allows you to create, share and manage a variety of documents, slide shows videos etc. By effectively using Google Drive, teachers and students can increase their productivity tremendously. Drive allows us to collaborate and communicate on a whole new level. Students find it especially useful for photographing notes (we have whiteboard tables) and sketches, and easily storing them away for later. 

Pros
Easy to use: Drive is very intuitive. Students learn to use it within minutes and seem to have no trouble making full use of it.
Productivity increases: Drive auto syncs and auto saves your work. Anything you create will automatically appear on your other devices and can be accessed anywhere. As all our teachers use it, information can be quickly shared and edited without having to attach things to emails etc.
Collaboration: Users can work on the same document at the same time. For example students could research a topic in groups, each student can be on a different device but be working on the same document.
Flexible privacy and editing rights: You can choose to share some documents while keeping others private. 


Cons
Ooops!: Some people find it hard to get their head around sharing files correctly. More often than not someone may delete something that others needed access too. Its crucial users manage their files correctly. 
Big Brother: There are theories that Google reads all your stuff and spies on its users. That might put some people off. If it's true then they are welcome to read my year 9 unit plan as much as they like! The service is free so I can't complain.
Simplistic: The applications are not as in-depth as Microsoft products so I still find myself using Word from time to time. They have begun releasing great add-ons which have enhanced the functionality heaps.

Cost: Zilch
Rating: 8/10
Where can I get it?: Google it to add it to your PC or find it on the App Store



 










Google Drive
3. Realtime Board
You've probably heard of Prezi, well Realtime Board is similar but way better. It's an online whiteboard in which you can create brainstorms, mock-ups, presentations, lessons etc etc. The board features a range of tools to allow you to create text, symbols, insert videos and heaps more. All our art teachers use it for presenting lessons in a non-linear way, and students now use it for all their brainstorming.

Pros
Easy and fun to use: Once you're signed up it's all go. Content is easy to add (it gets slightly tricky to add external content) and edit. 
Multi-use: Once you've added content you can make it into a slideshow, print it off as a PDF or share it with anyone via email. It also syncs to Google Drive so students can get access if you add them.
Non Linear: PowerPoint was horribly linear and you could spend hours sorting out the correct order of your slides. Realtime Board allows you to re-visit and re-contextualize with ease.


Cons
Clunky collaboration: It can be hard to figure out how to get others working on your board. Hopefully they will have better synchronization with Google Drive to improve this feature. 
Account Limitations: If you sign up on the most basic account you only get 3 boards. To get unlimited boards you must sign up on a educational account. This is a pretty easy process but a bit annoying to have to do. 
Loading: The bigger your board gets the longer it takes to load. But with fast internet it shouldn't be too bad. However, you may want consider not getting too carried away with your boards. 

Cost: Free for education
Rating: 8/10
Where can I get it?: Online or as a Google Add On


 



4.Behance
Adobe set up Behance as a way for creatives to share their portfolios. It's perfect for seeking new design inspirations. Some teachers even get their students to submit their own Behance folios. 
Pros
Extensive: While Pinterest deals with singular images Behance provides you with a thorough snapshot of design outcomes. Students can see all the outcomes for a design brief as opposed to a singular image.
Collect: Behance is easily compatible with Pinterest and you can pin images quickly to your boards. Alternatively you can get a Behance login and add portfolios to your own collections. 
Curate: Behance provides curated folios, and suggests creatives to follow and a shuffle function. These elements make it a great way to discover new creatives. 

Cons
None............

Cost: None.......
Rating: 10/10
Where can I get it?: Online or via App Stores

 
5.Show Me
Show Me is a great app which allows teachers to create short tutorial videos. You use the app as a whiteboard on which you can draw or place images. You then record yourself talking over the whiteboard. The tutorials can then be quickly uploaded online and shared. The Show me community is still growing and I think it'll become increasingly useful.

I have embedded a few Show Me examples to the right. 

Pros
Flip Learning: The app allows you to pre-record important snippets and get students to watch them in their own time. As the videos are public you can also search for other teachers' lessons and simply play these to your class. Students can watch the videos as many times as they like until they grasp the concept.
Community: As mentioned above you can access other teachers' lessons. Simply search by category and and play the video. 
Ease of Use: The App is easy to get the hang of. Recording and uploading is really intuitive to the extent that it is often used by primary school children. 

Cons
You: The biggest critique of Show Me is that you have to hear the sound of your own voice. I must admit it normally takes me 3-4 recordings before I'm happy with it, but I'm finding the more I do it the quicker it gets. 
That damn finger!: You have to use your finger or stylus to draw and write on Show Me so it's hard to be neat. This really annoys some people and takes some getting used to. I find that if you just embrace the wonky line it's fine. Students don't seem to mind anyway. 
Make the first shot count: Annoyingly you only get one take and not only that if you stuff it up you have to reload all your images again. Because of this it's best to write yourself a script first and just try to act natural. If you don't have some kind of script to follow you end up creating a rather dull video. Students will tune out rather quickly (just like in class) if you don't make it short and sharp.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself!: Speaking of tuning out. If you show students other Show Mes it's really worthwhile watching them yourself first. There are some bad ones out there and you could probably make a better version yourself.
It's ipad only



Cost: None.......
Rating: 6/10
Where can I get it?: Online or via App Stores

 


6.Explain Everything
Explain Everything is a better version of Show Me (above). Its has more advanced features such as editing abilities and loads more insert options. Teachers find this App to much easier to use than Show Me and I highly recommend giving it a try. 

Pro's
Flip Learning: Flip learning allows you to make the most of your contact time however it can take lots of non-contact time to make the resources. This App is intuitive to use and you can save your projects as you go (unlike show me) so you can make the resources rather quickly.
Variety: You can insert videos, images, text, live web pages, basically anything. This makes the tool perfect for teaching from any resource you can imagine. Its also has lots of tools to edit, write and move content around.
Help: The developers have provided lots of help videos which are succinct and relevant.
Uploading: It is easy to upload images to YouTube, Google and a range of other accounts.
Fun: Its really fun and easy to use. While these tutorials take some time investment to learn they are much more satisfying to make than a power point. They feel natural to use and allows you to collate all you resources in one place. 

Here's a video I made for 3.3 Design students. I discuss ways of demonstrating critical decision making by using NZQA scholarship exemplars.

YouTube Video

Con's
Ummmm?: Honestly cant think of how they could improve it. The one problem is the lag when talking through a web page but if you have a fast connection its bearable. Some say the Android version is no good but I haven't tried that. You do need a tablet for this App and if you can't get individual teacher laptops but want to do flip learning see if your department can buy a shared iPad. 

Cost: $3-4
Rating: 9.99/10
Where can I get it?: Online or via App Stores
 

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