App review by Ashley Kemper, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2015
Visual Schedule Planner
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Visual Schedule Planner

Visually appealing, thorough scheduling tool may overwhelm some kids

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Grades
5–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
Character & SEL

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Pros: Robust calendar lets users input images. text, and video to get organized and stay on track.

Cons: Complex screens and tons of options may be too confusing for younger users.

Bottom Line: This is a must-have tool for older students in need of scaffolded scheduling support.

Teachers can help students create daily checklists for important events. They might set recurring activities, such as turning in homework, changing for physical education, or preparing for lunch on behalf of students who need extra prompting to maintain daily routines. Visual Schedule Planner allows students to record voice or video descriptions of activities they need to complete; this feature might be used by teachers to bridge gaps for students who may benefit from language support and those who are still learning routines.

Teachers may also encourage students to record long-term assignments or assessments using Visual Schedule Planner. As students learn the process of breaking down large activities into smaller, more manageable tasks, teachers can allow them to take the lead in maintaining their own calendar.

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Visual Schedule Planner is a multi-screen scheduling tool that opens to the current day, divided into three areas: morning, afternoon, and evening. Students can add activities, scroll through options for the frequency of events, and link video, sound, or photos to the activity. Kids can add one of more than 1,500 pre-built icons to accompany the event that you’ve scheduled, or they can upload their own images from the device's camera roll.

Each activity must be set up using the edit screen before it can be added to a schedule. Once activities are added, a green "Now" icon indicates which activity should be happening at the current time. A timer is provided for each activity. Visual Schedule Planner settings are adjusted using the gear, accessible on any screen. Users can hide notes, activities, and clocks; restrict editing privileges; and adjust the "next" and "now" icons. Parents also can print out the daily calendar by clicking on the settings gear.

Though the learning curve for using Visual Schedule Planner is steep, especially for younger students, the depth it provides for daily activities may be extremely useful for many. Every activity can be visually represented on the daily, weekly, or monthly calendars. Larger activities can be broken down into smaller tasks and can include graphic, video, and/or audio input. These features provide an incredible digital opportunity for students to take the lead on learning time-management skills. It's also great that there are so many options: This multi-sensory approach makes the app a good fit for a range of abilities and learning needs. 

When creating a detailed Activity Schedule in Visual Schedule Planner on the iPad, the keyboard will overlap some of the areas students will want to type in. This may provide some frustration, especially for students who may struggle with visual-spatial relationships. Also, the image library is not searchable: Users must scroll through the images alphabetically. For kids who are easily overwhelmed by visual stimuli, many of the screens may be too busy to be beneficial.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

This tool provides incredible flexibility in adding items to the planner. Teachers can include video or photos, which may make students more likely to use the app regularly. 

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Though the planner lets users choose a specific activity breakdown (with images, video, or voice), maneuvering through the tool may overwhelm some and minimize the tool's learning potential.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Support videos are provided on the developer’s website, but there's no easily accessible in-app tutorial to get kids started.


Common Sense reviewer
Ashley Kemper STEM Project Manager

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