Give it a try – our pick of the best apps and tools, part 5

Each week in our newsletter we highlight a favourite free or low-cost app/tool/resource/piece of software and give a brief rundown of how you might use it in the classroom. Every month or so we round them up here on the blog.

We’d love to hear what you think about them if you give them a go, and any others you’d like to share – leave a comment in the box below. Catch up with all the tools in Give it a try, part 1 part 2,  part 3 and part 4

Don’t want to wait for the roundup? Sign up to our newsletter to get a new ‘give it a try’ in your inbox every Thursday lunchtime.

London skyscape.

London skyscape. Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Layers of London
We love this. An interactive map of London that brings together digitised historic maps, photos and other resources, enabling you to interact with and contribute to many different ‘layers’ of London’s history from the Romans to the present day. These layers include historic maps, images of buildings and films as well as information about people who have lived and worked in London over the centuries.

There are lots of suggestions for use in the classroom plus an offer of free CPD for teachers as the project is keen to work with schools across London, and to enable them to use Layers to learn about their neighbourhoods, develop their own projects, learn how to geo-reference and share the information online.

In these heated times, a company whose mission is to ‘make the world more thoughtful’ has to be worth a look. Free for schools, Kialo is a debate platform that encourages thoughtful discussion, helps debaters to see others’ points of view and also supports collaborative decision making. The site uses structured argument ‘trees’ to present discussions, which makes it easy to see the flow of the argument and who has been swayed which way. There are both public debates and the facility to keep debates, such as classroom discussions, private. (Oh, and Kialo is Esperanto for ‘reason’.)

Another handy tool for decision making is Loomio, which seeks to nudge groups towards consensus. After discussing a proposal, every member of a Loomio group can make one of four choices: agree, disagree, abstain, or block. Blocking acts as a veto, which forces the group to reconsider the initial proposal and amend it until consensus has been reached.

Take control of your phone
Hat tip to Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes for this  suggestion, which comes via their excellent Tide (Today in Digital Education) podcast.
Take control of your phone is a very useful page of simple hints and tricks from the Center for Humane Technology to put you back in charge of your phone. Some will be  familiar (charge your phone outside your bedroom, delete social media apps so you have to make a conscious effort to use them from a computer only) while others are more left field – ever considered going greyscale to stop your brain getting so excited at the sight of all those bright, shiny app icons? There’s also a good list of apps and extensions that help you live without distraction.

Glitch is a ‘friendly community’ of free, open projects, from useful tools that solve problems at work, to cutting-edge VR experiences, smart bots and apps. And, what’s more, every project can be remixed, customised and personalised so you can ‘build the app of your dreams’. It can look a little daunting to begin with but it’s worth delving in to see what you can discover.


Enjoyed the roundup? Sign up to our newsletter to get a new ‘give it a try’ in your inbox every Thursday lunchtime.

Sign up to our weekly newsletter to get edtech news and views, free resources and reviews direct to your inbox every Thursday lunchtime – including a weekly ‘give it a try’ app or tool recommendation.

If you would like to contact us please click here.