Some apps are like swiss army knives. Some can do more than you think. Some can be used in thousands of ways in the classroom. Explain Everything is one such app. It seems to be able to sit comfortably in a primary or secondary setting. It works well in any subject. It even seems to be useful to a wide range of ages. At its most basic, Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard app. If you can wirelessly mirror the iPad onto your projector screen it enables you to be far more flexible in the classroom. This unlocks a huge range of options. Letting the children loose on the app creates even more possibilities.
The latest update has pushed the envelope and so there are more ways to use the app than ever! Here are 13 great ways to use the app…
You can use Explain Everything to create engaging presentations that help you to enhance your teaching input. The slides on the app enable you to structure a starter in the same way that you would when using a PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint and Keynote presentations can even be imported directly into the app. The laser pointer and annotating options, coupled with the wireless mirroring, makes it a great tool to present with.
2. Modelling and Visualising
The app can help you to model a specific skill or highlight important details in a lesson starter. The inbuilt film camera option enables you to film your actions at the front of the class. This is not only enlarged on your projector screen but can also be played again and again. Alternatively, the photo camera enables you to instantly display work up on the board. Therefore, you can seek out a good piece of work and use that to model the successful complete lion of a task.
3. Peer to Peer Teaching
Children can jump on the app and use the recording function at the bottom of the screen to record their writing and their voices. Therefore, a child can easily make a simple video that explains a key concept of a task. This video can then be watched back directly within the app by another child who needs help in this area.
In a similar way, using the recording function, a child could explain an entire mathematical problem for example. The recording will pick up any and all of the child’s scribing and any comments that they make through out the process. The video that is created can then be exported so that it becomes a normal video file. This video file could be sent to the teach and used as an extra piece of assessment material.
Being able to attach images, videos, text and annotations to a slide on Explain Everything makes it the perfect tool to use when observing learning progressions. The ease of use makes it possible for a teacher to create meaningful observations right there and then. You could almost create one slide for each observation and fill the screen with details that might otherwise get forgotten.
6. Guided Tasks
With a little bit of leg work, you can facilitate an entire guided task on the app. You can save and share Explain Everything files. This means that you can send entire ‘presentations’ (for want of a better word) to another iPad or a number of iPads. Therefore, as a teacher, you could create a project that asks questions or indicates different tasks on a slide by slide basis. This would put an emphasis on independent learning and free you up to work with select groups or children.
The app can be used brilliantly to bring everything together at the end of the term. Because you can import ‘existing images/videos’ onto an Explain Everything slide, it’s easy to import other iPad projects that you have completed through out a term. This means that you can bring everything together in one place and create a digital scrap book. The camera and videoing option opens this idea up to include any piece of work created in school. Simply take a photo and add it to your scrap book.
8. Improving Parental Communication
Explain Everything can undoubtably help you to explain key learning concepts. Therefore, you could use the recording feature to create explanation videos to improve the continuity of learning at home and at school. For example, you could create a video that demonstrates the correct formations of letters. This can be exported to become a normal video file that can be placed on your school website for all the parents to see.
9. Drafting and Redrafting
The annotation options and recording feature at the bottom also makes the app a great tool for making and analysing work. You can import files into the app. Therefore, you can access and import text files such as PDF’s. This capability means that you could import a PDF of a pupils assignment and mark it with added commentary. The resulting video can then be sent back to the pupil so that they can re-draft their assignment.
10. Providing extra Learning Provisions
Using the app as an Interactive Whiteboard comes with a number of technological and practical benefits. If you are brave enough to hit the red button and record your entire starter, you are effectively creating a live learning resource. When the teaching input is over, there may well be a child in the room that has missed a key part of the teaching. You can give that child your iPad and they can watch/listen to the entire starter again.
11. Teaching Assessment and Development
Following on from this idea, if you do start to record your starters, you’re also creating a great resource to self-assess your teaching with. These recordings can help you to pick up on any bad habits you may have as well as enabling you to listen back to your questioning and so on. This is all underpinned by a timer which can obviously help you to tighten up the timings of your first quality teaching.
There are a whole host of video analysis apps available on the iPad but never-the-less, Explain Everything is not to be over looked in this area. The multi-media nature of the app means that you can really deepen the analysation that is sometimes required in subjects such as Science or P.E. Two finger zooming options allow you to really look closely at images and pin point clear ‘areas for improvement’ and so on.
13. Independent Learning
With all of the features previously mentioned, it is pretty clear that Explain Everything is a multifaceted app. Therefore, it is a perfect tool to use when engaging in independent learning. The inbuilt web browser allows children to access the internet and expand upon their own knowledge. It’s easy to write notes with the pen tool or the word processor. You could even dictate notes with the all powerful recording feature at the bottom of the main screen. In this sense, the app becomes a digital notebook or an easily accessible workstation that helps users to consolidate their thoughts (a lot like a traditional whiteboard).
14. Live Collaboration
A new and exciting feature on the app enables teachers to share their Explain Everything whiteboard with their pupils through a unique code. Children can therefore see on their own screens what the teacher is doing in real time. They can then edit the whiteboard themselves. Each individual child can do what ever they need to do on the Explain Everything project. This feature brings the learning directly into the hands of the pupil. It can conquer particular visual impairment needs as well as providing an engaging and exciting way of interacting with the class. You can choose to share your projects publicly or privately.
15. Discovering and utilising pre-made Resources
Through publishing your projects publicly, teachers can automatically offer their Explain Everything slides up to the world. This new feature means that a community of teachers are sharing resources that can be accessed through the app and it is expanding every day. There is already so much on offer that you could use Explain Everything and never create your own project!
16. Making Resources Multi-modal
Of course, the power of Explain Everything stems from the ease at which you can make differentiated and personalised projects yourself. One aspect of the app that makes this easier is the ‘Open In’ options associated with it. PDF’s, Slides from Power Point or Keynotes, Jpegs and so on can all be ‘opened in’ Explain Everything. For example, a teacher can find an exam paper online (usually in a PDF format) and ‘open it in’ the app. This will automatically put each page of the PDF on it’s own slide. A teacher could then talk over and highlight different areas of the paper to better explain the ins and outs of answering exam questions.
17. Curriculum Specific Learning
Before a child even starts working on the Explain Everything interactive whiteboard, they can select appropriate ‘templates’ for specific curriculum areas. Instead of choosing a blank project, the child can choose mathematical paper template, lined handwriting paper template, blueprint paper template and so on. You can even make your own custom templates.
Learning is sporadic and should be set within flexible parameters. Explain Everything provides a foundation for a variety of learners with a variety of learning styles. It is the one app that I would recommend to anyone within Education. I can confidently say that it will make a difference.