Recently I was pitching an idea for a workshop on spreadsheets. The an administrator gently shot down the idea. He had politely listened and then asked a couple of questions, “Are you going to do more than just show the basics of how to start a sheet file? What are you going have the teacher do? What will be their takeaways? Will this help them in their classrooms?”
His words that impacted me the most were, “True, we are looking for classes that teach applications and programs, but we want classes that put “tasks before apps.”
I drew a blank. I couldn’t remember hearing that phrase. What does he mean, “tasks before apps?” My creation for a spreadsheet presentation got shelved.
A week later I attended a workshop by Martin Cisneros. He presented some 40 plus or minus apps and tools for use in classrooms. Repeatedly he told us to choose only two or three, and not try to master all of them. As I explored each app as he presented it, I began to realize what “Task before App” means. Some apps and extensions he presented were useful. Some were frivolous. Some had no use in my classes.
I understood: If I don’t have assignments to use the app, then there is no need to teach the app. Now I understood that administrator when he says, “task before app.”
Let me share just two apps that have become mainstays for me.
I use the Keep app to make notes that include lists, links, pictures, note taking, outlining and reminders. I can even use them as a collaboration tool. The best function of all, is that this one app will automatically sync across all my devices. I have an icon on my smartphone, an extension on my laptop and on my desktop. It doesn’t matter where and when I add a note, it automatically syncs with all the other devices.
Second, Mercury Reader offered by postlight.com.
I use the Mercury Reader to get rid of all the clutter on web pages. It simplifies the looks of the page to make it easier to read. I can easily print hard copies or post to Google Documents or to a Google Classroom assignment. All this make the pages become student friendly.
Other features allow me to toggle to a white on black screen or increase the font size. I can highlight. I can send it to a Keep note. For Kindle owners, the touch of a button will send the file to a Kindle for on the go reading.
I hope you can enjoy these two apps for the task that need apps.