For a while, Rover used to be a default app on school iPads because it was a Flash browser for the iPad, and many curricular resources that were still being used in schools were reliant on Adobe’s Flash Player. Rover still exists, albeit in a different format, but it now has some competition in the form of Puffin Academy.
The Puffin app is already a well-known and reliable Flash browser that has been available for the iPad for some time now, but the Academy version is relatively recent. It is a filtered, educational browser and only specifically approved content is accessible through the app. Anyone who wants to have their content featured on Puffin Academy has to apply and be vetted before they are accepted as a content partner.
Curious as to what has already been approved? Check out the Puffin Academy Portal. Here you will find a selection of K-12 websites sorted by curricular subjects. This is essentially the home page of the browser itself, but it can be accessed via the link above to let you know what kinds of content is available.
Puffin Academy whitelists sites, so only the websites that are specifically approved can be accessed from the browser. Any attempts to navigate to Google, Facebook, YouTube or other non-approved sites will result in a “Website Blocked” message for the user. This means that your students will be safe while using this app.
After a while, you will doubtless wish that this website or that was part of the Puffin Academy. Unfortunately, you can’t just add a website by emailing Puffin. They have a strict process for content providers who have to apply to have their content added. So, email your favorite educational Flash website providers and tell them about Puffin to see if they are willing to apply for their free listing on the Puffin Academy app.
Other advantages of Puffin Academy? Well, even though it is a Flash browser for iPads, Puffin Academy is rated suitable for 4+. Almost all other browsers in the App Store – Chrome, Dolphin, Mercury, Photon etc. – are actually rated as 17+ apps because they have the ability to access all available content on the web.
So, if you haven’t tried Puffin Academy yet, and you need a Flash browser for your classroom iPads, you should definitely take a look. It is free app, and the developers are committed to supporting educators with approved content in the classroom. Is it limiting? In some ways yes, but it can be a great introduction to the web while you are still working on developing digital citizenship skills with your students.