For me, one of the best things about using mobile technology in the classroom is that it allows users to create and share amazing content that previously would have been impossible. There are a range of fantastic tools out there which facilitate this, depending on the type of content you wish to create, but one that has caught my interest recently is Adobe Slate. Adobe is on a roll and offers a wide range of superb apps for iOS devices. Slate was even made it on to the App Store’s Best of 2015 list.
Below is an example of a presentation made using Adobe Slate, focusing on a case study of the volcanic eruption at Mt. St. Helens, USA in 1980 for a Key Stage 4 Geography class:
How to create a project in Adobe Slate?
Creating a project in Adobe Slate is incredibly simple. In fact, the app guides you through the entire creation process. If you haven’t done so already you will first need to set up a free Adobe ID. Once you have done that, simply press “+ Create a New Story” to get started.
First you will be asked to add a title, subtitle and photo (see above). To do this, simply tap each component and type or select the content you wish to add. Slate allows you to add photos from a variety of sources:
- Find Photos – allows you to search websites for photos which are tagged with an appropriate Creative Commons license.
- On My iPad – import photos stored on your iPad
- Take a Picture – take a photo using the camera on your iPad
- External Sources – allows you to import images from Adobe apps including Creative Cloud and Lightroom, or from a linked Dropbox account
Next, swipe upwards to add a new element of content to your presentation (see above). Slate gives you the choice to add either a photo, piece of text, a hyperlinked button, a photo grid or a Glideshow (an image with a text overlay).
Once you have added your content to your presentation, select the Magic Wand (top right) and choose a theme for your presentation. When you are satisfied with the layout, tap the Play button to preview the final piece.
Finally, tap the Share icon (top right) to share your presentation. You can opt to either make your presentation Public which is accessible by everyone or Private which is only available to people who have the link. Slate provides the option to share your work on a variety of platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Alternatively, you could share the URL, which could be emailed out, added to an iTunes U course or used to create a QR code. By choosing < >, the app will generate a HTML embed code which will allow you to add your presentation to a website.
Using Adobe Slate in the classroom
What’s great about Adobe Slate is its versatility: it is an app that can be used right across the curriculum. It could be used as I have in the example above to create engaging resources for students to use. However, as it is an app that is very easy to use, why not get it into the hands of your students and get them creating the content for themselves.
- Creating a factfile/case study – Rather than make case study materials for Geography like I did, in the example, students could research an event and produce one of their own. This could then be used as a revision tool. Alternatively, students could produce an interactive fact file for a historical figure in History, or a character from a novel in English.
- Writing a report for an investigation/project – Slate could be used to document the steps students take during an investigation in science or a project in Design and Technology. They could start by stating the aim of their investigation or design. Students could add photos of the equipment they used. They could then include images and text documenting the method they used. Students could even include links to external documents like a spreadsheet showing their results or a survey to gather feedback on their design.
- Writing a news story – The end product looks similar in style to the stories that feature in the News app on iOS devices. As a result, students could research a topic and create a news story based on their findings, incorporating text, suitable images and quotes from sources/eyewitnesses.
- Promoting digital literacy – When creating content using Adobe Slate (or any other app where students create content), encourage students to make choices about the content they use and how they use it. By using the in app image search, students will be using images which are licensed to be reused under Creative Commons. If they are unable to find what they’re looking for, encourage students to use sources like Pixabay or Wikimedia Commons, to find free to use images rather than Google Images where some content may be subject to copyright. In addition, encourage students to maintain a list of sources used and attribute the work of others where necessary.
Why I love Adobe Slate
There are many reasons why I love Adobe Slate, first of which is the fact that it’s completely free! There aren’t even any in-app purchases to unlock extra, much needed features, as is all too often the case: big win! Secondly, Adobe have recently released a web based version of Slate. Slate automatically syncs everything to your Adobe account meaning you can start creating a project using the app on your iPad and then complete it using the web based tool on your desktop/laptop, or vice versa. Thirdly, Adobe Slate is incredibly easy to use. As mentioned earlier, the interface is simple and guides users through the creation process. Finally and perhaps most significantly, the final outcome is stunning! Slate automatically takes care of animations and transitions. All too often it seems, when creating presentations, many students tend to focus on the aesthetics: choosing a pretty theme, deciding the best font colour or the jazziest slide transition. Since Adobe Slate automatically decides this, users can dedicate more time can to adding great content. As a result, the end product can be far superior, not only in terms of the information included, but also the appearance.
Adobe Slate – Make your words and images move by Adobe is available for Free on the App Store.
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