There are not an abundance of apps for the iPad that really encourage a worthwhile level of collaboration between students or between students and teachers. There are several that would allow students to share an iPad and work on something together on one iPad, but what if you want students to be working on their own iPads at school, at home, or at a time of their choosing? The following 5 apps are designed for just that, and help take advantage of the iPad as a collaborative tool.
1. Rabble Browser – Spend a lot of time online with your class? Rabble Browser may be ideal for you. This app lets a teacher, or student, host a collaborative web browsing experience on the same wi-fi network. There is a chat window to collaborate and discuss ideas, a file browser that lets you share files with the others in your sessions, and a bunch of restrictions that let you lock the client app view, enable navigation, disallow chat, and allow voting. The app is robust, and a great way to collaborate with iPads in the classroom. Rabble Browser is currently $2.99.
2. iBrainstorm – In days gone by, sticky yellow notes would litter a desk or whiteboard to record a brainstorming session. Today, most of us do this digitally. The iBrainstorm app was created for this purpose, but it has a neat trick that is sure to wow first time users. There are two apps needed to collaborate with iBrainstorm – the host app (the iPad app) and the companion app (an iPhone app, which also runs on the iPad). You can have one iPad app and four clients connected at once. Students type on a yellow sticky note on the companion app, and then flick it towards the iPad and it appears like magic on a corkboard for the host to rearrange, edit or delete as required. iBrainstorm is free, and according to their Twitter feed, they are working on a native iPad companion app.
3. BaiBoard HD – Need a collaborative whiteboard space? Look no further than BaiBoard HD. It is packed full of features. Multiple iPads can connect to the same space. You get a choice of drawing tools, colors and line thicknesses. You can add photos, stencils and even documents that you want to mark up in real time. There is a chat feature and a push to talk function, the ability to save snapshots of your work at any given moment, and the option to share a URL for others to view the progress even if they don’t have an iPad. Boards can also be “watch only” if required. In short, you get an amazing amount for free and the developers are looking to improve the app wherever they can. Try it!
4. Subtext – Ok, so what if you wanted to collaborate and share a story or longer piece of text? Take a look at Subtext. It allows you to search Google Books for free or paid books, and the teacher can create small study groups for students working on a given book. Students, and teachers, can highlight sections, leave comments, and create conversations about the text. You can link out to the web and provide additional online content to add to the narrative or put things in a better context. It also integrates well with Edmodo and will import all your groups if you use your Edmodo login. Subtext will even let you share any ePub documents you have, or have converted to that format. Subtext is free and well worth checking out.
5. Ask3 – This new iPad collaboration app comes from the makers of Camtasia, Snagit, and Screenchomp. It offers students and teachers the ability to collaborate using video screencasts. Teachers create an account and can invite students to join their class with a unique class code, (no need for email addresses). Once the class is created, you create short screencast videos and share them with your class. Students watch your video and can leave a comment at any point in the video. These comments are shared publicly with the group, but can be used to help reinforce learning or clear up any misunderstandings. Students can even create a video of their own and add that as a comment to your video lesson, so it could be a great way to add some interactivity to a flipped classroom instructional model.
Do you have favorite apps for collaborating across iPads? Which ones do you use the most, and why? Leave a comment below with your favorites, and make sure to check out my iPad Apps page for more ideas on iPad apps for the classroom.