Unleash the Power of the iPad with App Smashing

The most important thing I learned from the iPad conference was the power of App Smashing.  When we started in Shawn McCusker’s Advanced iPad classroom, it became very apparent that this session would be much more than how to use an iPad in the classroom.

What is App Smashing? According to Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec)  The process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project.

We quickly learned that every App is “crap” because it can only do one thing.  Even if the App can do that one thing very well, the tool is still limited.  We have a very powerful tool in the iPad, but at the same time we have limited the potential of it by looking at Apps on an individual basis.  On a side note – here is a scary thought about the power of the iPad. “This is the least powerful tool these students will ever use.” #scary

The first thing to understand about App Smashing is that Apps can export to other apps and import from other apps.  The two places that most apps can access, and export to, is the Camera Roll (on the iPad) and Google Drive.

Therefore, you have to understand the following:

  1. Where can I get more resources to enhance the App I am starting with.
  2. Where can I can send the end product from the first App.
  3. What App do I want that product to open in next.
  4. What else can I bring in to these Apps to enhance my presentation.

As you think through these 4 items, and decide the path you will take to create your end product; this is called creating a work flow.  This workflow example was tweeted by Beth Holland @brholland. She is an EdTech Teacher and was another presenter at the iPad Summit San Diego.

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So if I export an edited image from Skitch to the camera roll, then I can import it into Book Creator.  I can also bring movies that I have created in Explain Everything into this same book.  Once I have them in Book Creator, I can share that book through Google Drive, and combine it with other books my classmates have created.  Once this book is completed, it can be published as an ebook which can be downloaded to other devices.  Maybe a Spanish 3 class can create a book for Spanish 1 students to use. 

I’m sure if you are new to App Smashing you had to read the last few paragraphs at least twice (okay, 4 times). I know my brain was full by the time we hit lunch on the first day of the conference.  Although this seems complicated, it truly unleashes the creative power of the iPad.  It may not be something we do as teachers for all of our lessons, but think of the creative power it gives our students to express what they have learned.  If we can give them clear learning objectives, the ways in which they can show their understanding of these objectives is limitless.

Many teachers feel that grading becomes more difficult for PBL (project based learning), but when you see a student’s project that clearly shows their understanding of the learning objective, the grading becomes easier.  Because the students can share their projects through Google Drive and students have their devices with them all the time, the teachers can watch this entire learning process unfold. As another presenter mentioned, “By the time the project is turned in, I already know the grade because I’ve been involved in the production process the entire time”.

If you are interested in learning more about App Smashing start searching for it on Twitter.  Find examples, try it for yourself, have your students try it.  Remember, failure is not an option – it is a good possibility, and we learn from it.

Here is a link to Greg Kulowiec’s EdTech Teacher posts on App Smashing.

About Sean Scanlon

Director of Instructional Technology Marian Catholic High School Google Certified Trainer
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