Our Story for iPad: The Best Digital Storytelling App for Young Writers

There are a lot of digital storytelling apps for the iPad. Each is just a little bit different from the others, but one stands out among the others, at least for me, because of its simplicity, ease of use, and ability to tell great stories. On top of all that, it is 100% free! I’m talking, of course, about Our Story for iPad, an app created by The Open University. In my opinion, it is the best digital storytelling app for young writers. Here’s why.

Our Story for iPad

Open the app for the first time and you are greeted with three choices Get Started, Create a New Story, or Use Existing Story. Tap the green button to begin Add a title for your story, then find the photos you need in the iPad camera roll. Drag the images you want to the tray at the bottom of the screen.

Our Story for iPad Creation screen

To begin adding story details, tap on the image you want to use in the timeline at the bottom of the screen. That page of the book will open and you now have the choice over whether you want to add text (tap the keyboard), record audio (tap the microphone), or do both! The app keeps things simple. There are no font choices, page layouts or anything else, so that definitely cuts down on distractions and helps focus the user on the story. When you are done with the page you are working on, the back arrow will take you back to the previous screen to choose another page.

Our Story for iPad Creation Screen

If you want to return to the story to work on it later, press the save button (the floppy disc icon) to store your progress for another day. If the story is finished, you can view it by pressing the purple play button to see the finished product. Stories can be shared from this screen too. Tap the printer for a printed version (no audio of course) or share by email, Dropbox and iTunes as a PDF. You can also send it to other users of the Our Story app the same way so that they can play and edit your story.

Overall it is a great app. Personally I would like to see the option for students to take a picture inside the app and use that in their story, instead of relying on existing images. Alternatively, access to a simple drawing tool would be nice to have students illustrate their own picture if needed.

Otherwise, I think this is a very worthy app for any elementary or primary classroom, and can be a great way for you to create digital stories with your students. Give it a go if you have never used it before.

30 Hands: A Versatile, Free Storytelling App for the iPad

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Have you tried 30 Hands yet? This free iOS app is a great storytelling or presentation app that has lots of potential for the classroom. I first learned about it from the TCEA iPad site, and my head has been spinning with classroom applications ever since.

Presentations can be made with or without audio, but using audio will be more effective in most situations. Once you create your presentation, you can add images from your Camera Roll, from Dropbox, or you can take a picture with the camera on your device. Multiple images may be selected at once, and can be rearranged in the same way you rearrange apps on your iPad homescreen – press and hold until they wiggle, then drag and drop them to the order you need.

30 Hands App Slides

Tap on the slide you want to record your audio for, and hit the red record button to begin and end the recording. Playback your audio when you are done, and re-record if necessary. After all your slides are recorded and you have them in the order that you want them, hit the arrow to publish your video and save it to your Camera Roll for sharing to YouTube or uploading to Drive, Dropbox, etc.

With a little imagination, you could create some very creative video projects with the 30 Hands app, but it’s the simplicity and ease of use that makes it a winner for me. This app could be just at home in an elementary classroom as it could in a middle school classroom, and that versatility, for free, is hard to match.

It would be a great digital storytelling app, but it is an equally capable presentation app – not in the same way that Keynote is – but in terms of having students present their content and share their ideas, this is a useful option to have and could make a nice change from screencasting apps once in a while. You can get some more ideas and see real student projects by visiting the 30 Hands community site.

A video tutorial is embedded below, but if you are already using the 30 Hands app, and want to share some ways that you have used it with your students, feel free to leave a comment below.

Using Blurb Mobile for Digital Storytelling on the iPad

I’m a big fan of digital storytelling apps. There are lots of them, and most of them are very good, but many are aimed at elementary students. So, when I find something new, innovative, and a little less cartoony like Blurb Mobile, I am always glad because it gives me another app to share with secondary teachers.

Blurb Mobile

The Blurb Mobile app is offered by blurb.com, the same company that offers wannabe authors the chance to create their own print and ebooks and sell them online.  It has a very intuitive interface and is easy to pick up and use. With an emphasis on visual media, Blurb lets you create some short, but interesting, gallery style stories that the author can narrate and add short captions to.

Blurb Mobile 2

The app is free and lets you add up to 8 images per story, one 30 second audio clip per image, one 10 second video. There are also 7 built-in themes to choose from, page layouts, image adjustment tools, and privacy controls to keep your story unlisted or public to the world. I hate in-app purchases (I much prefer a separate paid app) but for $0.99 you can up your image limit to 15, add 2 minute audio clips, three 30 second videos, and get access to 8 additional themes.

Blurb Mobile 3

For some inspiration on what you can create, check out the Story Stream in the navigation menu to see what others have created with the Blurb app. There are some great examples: some poignant, some fascinating. You can also use the audio bin to record your audio ahead of time and store it in the clip library for when you need it.

Overall, it is a really well made app that has some interesting options and a fresh approach to how you can tell a story digitally on the iPad, and an app that could easily find its way onto iPads in the classroom. So, feel free to check it out, and be sure to see my other picks for digital storytelling apps for the iPad.

More Digital Storytelling iPad Apps

digital storytelling apps for the ipad

I have recently added a new section to this site that is dedicated to iPad apps. I know that there are countless lists of apps out there, and more created every day, so these apps will be my own contribution to all that is good for teachers in a K-12 iPad classroom. They are some of my favorite apps, and the ones that I think give you the best bang for your buck.

Are the apps organized in the best possible way? Probably not, but I struggled with a way to this for a while. I have seen lots of good, (and bad), ways to organize apps. Spreadsheets, databases, lists, tables, standards, learning goals, and more. In the end, I opted for what made sense to me. The apps are organized in much the same way I organize apps on my iPad.

Could some apps appear in more than one category? Absolutely. In fact, the really good ones do. Teachers often ask me about a good app for Science or Math, and while there are some great apps dedicated to Science or Math, the apps I end up showing them are ones like Nearpod, Explain Everything or InfuseLearning.com, because these are apps that can be used in Science, Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and just about everything else!

So, the first group of apps I chose for this new section of the site are digital storytelling apps. I shared a presentation I gave on this topic at ITEC 2012 this year. There were many more apps that I wanted to include, but just didn’t have time for in that one hour session, so I added them all to a new page of digital storytelling apps, and I will update it with new additions whenever I come across new apps that are worthy of inclusion.

Future collections will include screencasting apps, note taking apps, assessment apps, PLN apps, and more. Stay tuned for further updates and feel free to add any app suggestions of your own as I look to build up this resource for others.

Digital Storytelling Apps for the iPad

The second of my two presentations at ITEC 2012 this year was Digital Storytelling Apps for the iPad. I love the potential that the iPad has as a multimedia device for creating and sharing digital stories, so I wanted to try and encapsulate some of the best ways to do that in this presentation.

The apps I chose will not necessarily be new to everyone, but I chose these apps because each is just that little bit different in their own way. Each one either pertains to a different strand of digital storytelling, or was built for a specific age level to help make digital storytelling relevant and meaningful to all ages of students.

So, if you are looking for a collection of digital storytelling apps to use in your classroom, take a look at the slides below. There are many more I would have added if I were not restricted to a 50-minute session, but these apps are a great start for K-12 educators who are looking to explore digital literacy with the iPad.

Are your favorites included in this slideshow? If not, leave a comment below with a list of your own favorite storytelling apps for the iPad.