We teach in our own schools, cities, states and even countries but because of the magical power of social media we have met “our people” – you know, those fellow teachers out there who think like you do, share your goals and enthusiasm, make teaching fun – even from hundreds of miles away. How do you connect on a daily basis? Sure, there are tweets, pins and status updates but we can do better than that!
Here are 10 field tested apps to help you connect with the PLN members you can no longer remember teaching without! In honor of the first day of Connected Educators Month, today’s Top Ten Apps are:
1. Sanderling (Beta) register and log in at sanderling.io- This app is brand new- it allows teachers to keep a digital journal around their learning and observations in the field or they can create projects that can be kept private or shared publicly. Sanderling gives the teachers capability to record text, pictures, videos, quotes, and more within the app. Still in the hands of the early adopters, I can’t wait to use Sanderling for collaborative professional development projects with educators from across my PLN- working and sharing synchronously through our mobile devices.
2. Voxer – turns your phone into a walkie talkie. This is a particular favorite of my personal PLN because it’s a great go to to get things done without having to take the time to wade through and respond to email. If you can’t listen to the voxer from one of your favorite educator friends immediately because perhaps you are with your students, no worries. The voice message will be waiting for you when do you have a chance to listen. It’s really easy to sneak voxer messages in at any time, like in the car or if you have a few quiet moments in between classes. Voxer has the best aspects of both text messaging and phone calls. It’s not disruptive just like a text message, but can include the tone and emotion of a phone call. Voxer can work one to one or include big groups of connected educators. It’s really great because sometimes it’s just better to hear your teacher friends actually laugh then just see the #LOL.
3. Google Hangouts -definitely the most powerful tool I have personally experienced for flattening school walls and connecting educators. Educators are coming together in droves – whether it be to plan events or conferences, to do one to one or group tutorials on digital tools, to record learning together and share it as a podcast or even to just hang out and give moral support. I think it might be safe to say educators are using Google hangouts more than any other group of professionals. Don’t believe me? Did you checkout Edcamp Home this summer? How about all the podcasts recorded weekly in Google Hangout on Air? Maybe it’s the screen share option that syncs seamlessly with Drive or maybe it’s the sound effects but Google Hangouts is quickly becoming an essential tool for all connected educators.
4. Schedule Hangout – it’s hard to get teachers together, period. When you have physical distance and multiple time zones working against you it can be practically impossible. But there’s an app for that! Schedule Hangout allows you to send an invite to all the participants with multiple date and time choices making it the one stop shop for coordinating everyone’s schedule and making the Hangout happen.
5. Backchannel Chat - this newly released this app designed for education gives educators (or students for that matter) the opportunity for real time discussion. Teachers have full control over the conversation and can even keep the discussion private as well as archive it. Could be a good tool to test out among educator friends and then also use it to transform classroom discussions with students. Or even have your classroom use it with one of your PLN member’s students and have real time discussions across the globe!
6. Lino (or en.linoit.com if you are using a web browser- both the browser version and app work together seamlessly) Think of it as a vitrual cork board- just like the one you have in your school’s teacher lounge where everyone pins up announcements, articles, invties, etc. but now it’s online. You can have that same experience with your virtual PLN- start a board around any topic, invite your PLN members and they can add to the board from either the app of the website.
7. Subtext-everyone should gave a virtual book club with their PLN. What could be better than that? Subtext, if you haven’t tried it yet, is the must have app for every reader, let alone every teacher. The only hard part is deciding what book you all want to read together (and, of course, actually finding the time to read during the school year) but once everyone has the text loaded your questions, comments, notes and quotes are seen by all included in your subtext reading group. Never read in isolation again!
8. Touchcast- this super robust app that hit our ipads this summer just keeps getting better. The app lets you create huge mashups of every information you channel you follow. It is a frame for all the media you want to collect. Plus, there are many of interactive elements of Touchcast. Now you can even connect your Instagram account and add your photos to your Touchcast projects. This is a great tool to use to create media products that can really inform and deepen your connection with the members of your PLN.
9. Message Me – is Voxer and texting plus a whole lot more. Within group messages, you can text, send voice messages, photos, videos, music and even emoji stickers – stickers? What teacher doesn’t like stickers? Now you can send them to each other.
10. rithm – when you need a break from talking about school and the world changing work you are doing everyday and you just want to send those other awesome educators a good song to brighten up their day. The app rithm let’s you send snip-its of songs, which you can add a short video clip or an animated character to, simple as that. It’s just fun. Happy Connected Educators Month!