Back to School Apps For The New Nexus 7

As the sultry days of summer rolled by, Google introduced a hefty refresh to their already solid Nexus 7 tablet. The new Nexus 7 (2013) sports a resplendent HD display, faster processor, upgraded ram, better power efficiency, and a sleeker design. Also included is a rear facing 5MP camera, which should satisfy those who longed for a camera on the first edition.

Google continues to keep the price significantly lower than the obvious competitor, the iPad Mini. Consider that at a cost of $269, the 32GB Nexus 7 is $160 less than the $469 32GB iPad Mini. Importantly, the Google Play store continues to offer a mammoth selection of apps for Nexus 7 and other Android tablets, many of which are free or ultra-low cost.

Based on performance, price and apps, the new Nexus 7 is an outstanding device and continues to be my top recommendation for students, parents and staff seeking an affordable yet powerful tablet.  Check out a detailed Nexus 7 2013 hardware review on Anandtech.

Image via Google
Nexus 7 Image via Google

Show me the apps!

Last year, I posted a few Android app recommendations based on our teacher and student experiences with Nexus 7. Here is an updated list of ten interesting education and classroom apps. Note that these apps will run on various Android tablets, not just the Nexus 7.

Duolingo – Learn and practice Spanish, French, German or Italian on your Android tablet. Duolingo is a fun and free language app to help develop conversational fluency. Simple and addictive, Duolingo provides language learning tools for Android and via the Duolingo website.

Evernote – Replace your paper notebooks with Evernote, the king of personal note-taking and archiving apps.  Notes may be organized into folder-like notebooks, tagged with keywords and later searched. Your notes are stored in the cloud and automatically synchronized everywhere you access Evernote, be it the web, your phone or tablet. The Android app is a super organizational companion for students and teachers.

Lecture Notes – Annotate, draw, sketch and write in style with this versatile note-taking app. The feature list is long; PDF import/export, a wide pallet of pencil/pen customization, drawing tools… there are too many to mention. Plus, you can easily export your written notes to Evernote. The full version is $4. However, the free trial includes two notebooks, which should be sufficient for casual note-taking.

Writing Prompts – Chop writers block with 500 inspirational prompts to help your students launch the next great novel. Prompts are organized into category topics such as Animals, Crime, and Fantasy. One of my favorites: “Write a love letter from Peanut Butter to Jelly.”

Groupboard – Draw, chat, and collaborate in a virtual whiteboard space with Groupboard. The app and companion website offers a dynamic workspace for group projects or remote tutoring. Organize your students into small teams and let the brainstorming begin; the free version allows up to 5 participants per board.

MyScript Calculator – A great tool for checking homework or tutoring, this app truly needs to be seen to be believed. Write a mathematical expression on the screen and MyScript Calculator will convert your script to numbers and solve the operation in front of your eyes.

Graphing Calculator – MyScript Calculator is great for simple equations. When your studies reach the next level, you’ll find useful Algebra, Geometry and Pre-calculus tools inside Graphing Calculator by Mathlab.

Moodle Mobile App – Connect to your classroom Moodle course while on the move! The Moodle app provides access to course content, messages and notifications. Note: This app requires your school’s Moodle server to be running version 2.4 or above and Mobile Web Services to be switched on.  

Socrative Socrative is a free web service and mobile app that turns any laptop, Android or iOS device into a clicker response system. An innovative upgrade to traditional test review, Socrative continues to be a favorite of educators. 

Extra Credit for Linux: Check out GfxTablet, an app that allows you to draw on your PC via your Android tablet. Pair this app with GIMP and you have a natural drawing slate. Note: This app is still under development and may be a little rough around the edges.

Google Play for Education Announced

Huge news for Android in the classroom: Today Google revealed Google Play for Education, a forthcoming service to help teachers manage, discover and install learning apps on classroom tablets. Designed specifically for the needs of educators, the new section of the Google Play Store will be organized by subject matter, content and grade level.  The service will include a new bulk purchasing option to help simplify app and book purchases. Importantly, Play for Education will support over-the-air installation of content to student devices. Schools may mass-install apps to hundreds of tablets, which should make app deployment and management incredibly easy.

Scheduled for release this fall, Google Play for Education promises to be a fantastic resource for mobile classrooms. With a growing fleet of student and teacher Android tablets, the Penn Manor Technology Team is anxious to test the new service. More information is available here:
cc Photo Credit: JD Hancock

Nexus and Open Source at PA Educational Technology Conference

mediumandroidI’m thrilled to be delivering two presentations at the 2013 PA Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C) in February. The first talk is titled, Android Tablets: Power Up Mobile Classrooms. We’ve had great success with Nexus 7 tablets in our classrooms and I can’t wait to share our experiences. Here is the session description:

Android tablets offer dynamic instructional opportunities in an affordable package. Google’s Nexus tablets may be the future of mobile learning. Learn from our district’s Android journey and discover how your school can affordably extend the reach of powerful mobile technology. Classroom apps, management, and best practices will be featured.

The second session is titled Best of Open Source Tools for Schools 2013:

Open source means more than free software for cash-strapped schools. The open source community is transforming education through alternative, high-quality learning applications. So where does one start? Join us to review a versatile set of 10 free applications for students, educators and life-long learners. Your open journey starts here.

I look forward to sharing our success stories and having great conversations with colleagues both old and new. See you in Hershey!

cc Photo Credit: JD Hancock