When the iPad first arrived a few years ago, I avoided purchasing one as I thought it would only be good for accessing content. My needs revolve more around producing content, rather than simply as a consumer. A few months ago after much deliberation I decided to take the plunge. I bought an iPad Air with the intent to use it within my class and to create videos for my courses. I use ExplainEverything to create the videos I share with my students within my flipped classes. I also take pictures during labs or whiteboarding and Tweet them using the class hashtag.
But the focus of this post is an app I've only started using recently. In fact, the first time I tried Educreations was on a whim. I had received an email from a student asking a question about a stoichiometry problem. In the past, I might have tried to slog my way through an explanation to the student about the conversions required. Previously, while trying to decide what app to use for video creation, I tested Educreations. It didn't match my needs, so I moved on. However, for this email conundrum, it seemed perfect. To answer the student, I simply created a 90-second video with some explanation to answer her question. I then sent her the link to the video. Voila! Problem solved. Total time investment: about three minutes. Based on the student response to the video "help" I'd say it was a success.
Since this trial run, I've answered a number of student emails using this method. And each time, the students are amazed that I can provide them such a personal answer so quickly. But the reality is that it's just as easy to make these short video snippets as it is to try to type an email response to something complex. And I can provide graphics and show them my problem-solving method. I like the flexibility provided by Educreations in creating a bigger canvas to write on by dragging the screen around a bit. This solves - to a certain degree - the major problem I've got with my iPad: not enough screen real estate. I might be in the minority, but I'd love to see a larger iPad in the future.
One additional use I've found for Educreations is offering "homework help." I now occasionally choose one (or more) of the more difficult problems from a homework assignment and work through it using Educreations. I then Tweet the link to the class so they can use it as a resource. Similar to the email help, this process typically takes 3-4 minutes from start to finish. If you're interested in one of these videos, here is a link to an example. Please remember, though, that these videos are not meant to be refined. They are simply quick - but hopefully useful - explanations of a question from the homework.
One drawback I've found with Educreations is the difficulty in adding pictures and diagrams. The current version allows access to the iPad Camera Roll, the camera itself, Dropbox, and a web search. I'd love to see future versions include access to my OneDrive and GoogleDrive as well.
What apps do you use with your chemistry classes? I'd love to hear more ideas about how to use technology to interact and engage with students.