Transforming Teaching and Learning with Mobile Devices and Learning Apps

Ron-Ron Schildknecht is Instructional Technology Consultant at the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning, Ron Schildknecht consults with faculty about digital media, produces instructional video, and manages multimedia services. Ron is also an independent filmmaker, screenwriter and instructor. He received his MFA in Writing from Spalding University and teaches screenwriting in their undergraduate program and film production in their graduate program.


With today’s lightning fast smart phones and both iOS and Android tablets, opportunities for educators to tap (pun intended) into technological resources has never been better. Mobile devices and learning apps are slowly  breaking down the walls of the classroom, transforming virtually any environment into a teaching and learning space.

If you’re just getting started, here are a few suggestions and resources to explore.

When reviewing my suggested apps below., consider not only how you might adapt them to your teaching, but also in how you can use them in assignments for your students.

Getting Started

One app every educator and student should have on any device is DropBox, which is a free file hosting service. This online organization and storage app allows you to store files in the “cloud,” giving you the ability to access them from anywhere. You will want to move files from your computer to your device and vice versa. You can also create a shared folder with full access to all of your students.

If you have an iPad, a Bluetooth keyboard is a necessity. Your complete mobile workstation just got a lot lighter.

Creating and Sharing Content

For creating presentations using iOS devices (iPads and iPhones), Apple’s Keynote app allows you to create beautiful and functional slideshows similar to Powerpoint for your lectures, which can be presented straight from your device if connected to a projector or HDTV. You have the option to save your work to the iCloud and work on the same presentation seamlessly from any device or computer.  Some of our faculty who use Keynote export edited versions of their presentations as PDF’s to share with their students.

There are literally hundreds of apps that simulate the functionality of blackboards and smart boards to create drawings and documents on your tablet. You can create using free-hand drawing tools, using typing tools, or a combination of the two tool sets. Your drawings and documents can be sent to and synced with other users so that they can comment and edit your drawings and documents. All of these apps include some way to share your content, such as DropBox or to upload to their server with a link to share. A few popular ones with educators include Doceri and ShowMe for iOS and Whiteboard for Android.

Skitch (iOS link) (Android link) is a fun way to annotate any photo in your device’s library. For example, you could push out a map or a diagram to your students and have them label it for you.

One of my favorites is a simple digital story app called ShadowPuppet. You simply select images from your device, record your voice talking about the images, and share.

For recording voice only, Voice Recorder Pro 7 (iOS link)(Android link)is one of the best free apps I’ve come across, giving you multiple options for sharing – DropBox, email, Sound Cloud, YouTube, etc.

Annotating PDF’s allows you to mark documents for grading papers, have students critique others creative writing assignments, etc.  Adobe Reader (iOS link) (Android link)and PerfectReader are two free apps I’ve used successfully.

iTunes U

Many people don’t realize the vast range of free content already available to them on Apple’s iTunes U site where most of the content providers are colleges and universities. A quick browse of your subject matter can yield numerous videos, audios and PDF’s, any of which can be linked to share with your students. And of course there’s an app for that as well.

You also have the ability to create your own iTunes U Courses, which can be only made available to your students or you can open it up to the world through the iTunes Store. The only downside is it’s only available through iOS devices. Please contact me directly if you have any interest in learning more.

Learn More at our April 17 Open House

I’ve found the best way to sort through the millions of available apps is to see what my peers are using  Come join us at the Dine and Discover Appy Hour on April 17, from 3-5, at the Delphi Center in Ekstrom Library and share your favorite iOS or Android apps along with your success story. Join us for informal conversation over sparkling beverages and appetizers as we consider how mobile apps are being used across the curriculum to change the way we teach our students.

What are some of your favorite apps for teaching and learning?

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