The fact is that the Windows Store is bursting at the seams with juicy educational apps ripe for the picking. Many teachers are not aware of this, and because sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, I want to share some of my favourites with you.
Teachers all around the world engage their students in the learning process via Minecraft. This procedural game is rooted in Mathematics and Earth Science and can be played individually or by a multiplayer world hosted on a server. The world is made of blocks which measure 1m3, and players can mine objects like iron ore and wood and then craft the mined items into products like a pick axe. In creative mode, students can build houses and villages.
Turtle! is a visual, drag and drop programming tool that mirrors the successful Logowriter of 30 years ago. Lovers of Scratch will instantly gel with the simple interface and controls. Turtle! also has a debugging mechanism to help users perfect their scripts. This is great for teaching about the sides and angles of regular polygons. For example, by using the Pen Down block, students can write a script to draw a heptagon. The only way to find out more is to play it now!
Physamajig replicates realistic physics rules by allowing users to create games. We’ve all played Angry Birds, which is a good example of the types of games that you can make. Gravity, friction, bounciness and other phenomenon are added to games through objects that ae drawn onto the game. There are games to play or remix to customise, and you can even create vehicles and dolls using joints.
Doodleinator is a handy little animator, great for showing a sequence such at the lifecycle of a plant or frog. It is very simple to use and can be exported as a movie. The animation is helped by an onion skinning function that allows you to see what you drew in the previous slide. Doodleinator is an app that is optimised with the Surface and stylus, and is brilliant for combining cartoon animations with an explanation task.
I like Music Maker Jam because it is fun and easy. Students will love the aesthetic of the interface, and the sounds they can create are awesome. Why use other people’s music when you can create your own? Dubstep is the free genre of choice, and after a few minutes exploring, students will be creating professional sounds and wicked beats. Headphones or buds are a must for this cool app, and any song created can be easily exported to .mp3 format.
Don’t take my list as being a definitive one. There are so many great apps in the store that can be used in the classroom by teachers and students alike. Not only that, the list is growing longer every day. There are innovative apps that can transform the teaching and learning process, enabling you to do things like flipping a lesson or enabling students to create learning objects. Coupled with powerful tools like the Microsoft Surface and stylus, these apps will deliver fun and innovative learning experiences.
Matthew Jorgensen, Microsoft Teacher Ambassador.
Twitter: @jorganiser @msauedu
For more educational articles, go to the Microsoft Australian Teacher's Blog.