Creating Innovative Student Projects With App SmashingImage composite: TarraS79/iStock/Thinkstock

These Wisconsin middle school students are combining multiple apps to create projects that cross disciplines and encourage higher-level thinking, collaboration, and innovation.

The iPad is one of my favorite learning tools. The potential for using various apps to improve student learning is tremendous. Yet, despite the iPad’s possibilities, apps are often limited in their functionality. No one has created that magical, one-size-fits-all app that accomplishes all of the tasks that you had in mind. Luckily, there is an answer to this common problem: app smashing.

What is app smashing?

According to Greg Kulowiec of The History 2.0 Classroom blog, app smashing is “the process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project.” For example, a student could begin a project by editing images in an app, such as Skitch, and then add these images to a video creation app, such as iMovie, to produce a product that truly identifies her learning.

How can app smashing enhance a project?

As I said, there’s no perfect one-size-fits-all app available that takes advantage of all of the capabilities of the iPad. One app may be great for combining text and photos, while another app incorporates sound and video. With app smashing, a student can create exactly the type of product she has in mind.

Getting started with app smashing

Before beginning any app-smashing project, you and your students first need to consider the end product. Identify your learning targets and the outcomes that you want your students’ final products to showcase. Once you’ve identified the end result, you are ready to begin app smashing! Follow these steps to get started.

Smash some apps

See app smashing in action with this step-by-step video.

  1. Choose a first-level app to create content.
  2. Save the work to the iPad’s camera roll.
  3. Add the content to an app that allows for extra layers of creativity. These apps may allow students to add things such as audio or video annotation.
  4. Publish the work.

First-level apps: Create
Find a first-level app that gives students the ability to create some basic content, such as simple images or videos. Some of my favorite first-level apps include:

  • Skitch: This app is awesome for adding labels or comments to images or marking up photos.
  • Pic Collage: Create a unique collage of images and text.
  • Comic Life: Insert your own images and add comic-like features.
  • Camera Roll: Take your own images or video.

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