App Smashing: Combining Apps for Innovative Student Projects

Use different apps together to complete tasks and create student projects.

March 31, 2014
Kelly Mendoza Director of Learning and Engagement
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Professional Development, Technology Integration

At this month's CUE conference in Palm Springs, California, a lot of people were geeking out about "app smashing": the process of using -- or "smashing" -- different apps together to complete tasks and create rich student projects.

In the session "App Smashing: Using Several Different Apps to Do Richer Student Projects," Jon Corippo introduced the concept to an eager audience of educators. (You can see his slides here). Corippo, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Mariposa County Office of Education, attributes the concept to Greg Kulowiec.

App smashing involves these steps:

  1. Create content with one app.
  2. Create content with another app (or apps).
  3. Merge content together (smashing).
  4. Publish content to the web.

Corippo notes that app smashing can help maximize the potential of digital tools by combining their features and functions. It can include combining apps for the process of research, note-taking, understanding, creating, and sharing. Take, for example, the basic book review assignment. An app smash on the iPad could involve students transforming their book review into a “book trailer” by doing the following:

  1. Google Docs: Use their book review to script a storyboard.
  2. Tellagami: Record themselves as avatars explaining their review.
  3. iPad Camera: Take pictures role-playing characters or scenes.
  4. Doceri: Import camera images and draw or write out key information as part of the review.
  5. iMovie: Edit Tellagami and Doceri files into one video, add music.
  6. YouTube: Export and publish.

For example, Donna Young's fifth graders did an app smash as a way to analyze characters in a book they read. Students created talking avatars of a book character using Tellagami, found a background image for their avatar video using ImageQuest, and added citations to that image and exported their video using Pic Collage. You can read her post and see student creations here.

In another CUE session on app smashing, elementary teacher Kim Bass from Fullerton, California, explained how, for the Read Across America project, she recorded parents reading to students with an iPad camera. She then embedded the videos into a ThingLink, which links different parts of an image to popover text, videos, or other links. Students could go back to the ThingLink and click on any of the parent readings they wanted to watch. See her example here.

An important piece of advice shared by both Corippo and Bass is to use the iPad’s Camera Roll to save photos and videos, and use Air Drop to share them. There are also other workarounds for saving and sharing work, like using Kanex’s MeDrive, an external USB hard drive that allows one to wirelessly backup, share, and save photos, videos, and documents from multiple devices.

If you’re already using our tech-rich lesson planning template, you might be curious how app smashing and our Lesson Plans compare. Both approaches move away from being singularly app- or tool-centric. Instead, both highlight how apps can be used in conjunction with one another to reach an objective or complete a task. However, it seems that app smashing centers on transforming student projects to be rich media creations, whereas a Lesson Plan is a broader framework for instructional planning. Lesson Plans include pedagogical insight, allowing you to focus on incorporating a variety of digital media tools, including subject-specific ones, throughout lesson. Both of these concepts truly encourage the seamless use of technology to meet chosen learning objectives. The possibilities are endless!

To learn more about app smashing, watch Greg Kulowiec’s video, "What is App Smashing?" or check out his App Smash Pack of recommended apps that work well together.

What are your app smash ideas? Share them by starting your own App Flow today.