Review by Amanda Finkelberg, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2014

Apollo

Presentation and student-response system good for BYOD, 1-to-1 classrooms

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
5-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: The drag-and-drop interface makes designing easy; students can take control, answering questions and presenting their own knowledge.

Cons: Audio recording isn't available within all browsers, and some features are difficult to find.

Bottom Line: A fantastic presentation option for teachers with blended classrooms, despite some usability issues.

Apollo could be a great fit for students and teachers who already work in a BYOD or 1-to-1 classroom. If you've got access to devices, this is a great and innovative way to make use of them. Those used to creating digital presentations should be able to get up and running quickly. However, the more interactive features like quizzes may be a bit tricky to figure out the first time -- give yourself time to test some lessons first, before trying them out in class.

Many of the most interesting features are hidden -- the chat and discussion tools are only documented in the Support page and invisible to teachers until students are enrolled in the course (along with some dashboard information, as well). While it may be tricky to envision, a standout feature for teachers is the ability to drag and drop content into slides on the fly. This can enable you to make the most of teachable moments, without interrupting the rhythm of a presentation -- if you can create and present on your toes.

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Apollo is a next-generation screencasting and presentation tool that combines the basic features of a program like PowerPoint with cloud storage and mobile compatibility. Teachers can create slide decks in a relatively simple interface, then present to a group of students across many networked devices, including tablets and smartphones. For users running an updated version of Mac OS X (10.8 or higher), a downloadable app allows audio recording directly into the presentation.

The slick interface makes adding content to presentations a simple drag-and-drop affair. What's more, teachers have the ability to add images and slides in real time, without stopping the lesson flow. Another feature allows teachers to hand screen control over to students during a presentation or lesson -- students could then share drawings, ideas, or annotations from their own device. In terms of student response, Apollo offers features like polling and multiple-choice quizzes; real-time analytics show everyone anonymous results.

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Apollo has the potential to simplify and improve the learning experience in a blended or “bring your own device” (BYOD) classroom by combining the features of several useful tools into one. Students' ability to get a mirrored display on their own device is great, not to mention the option to ask and answer questions through the interface. While the ability to screencast isn't fully available, teachers can record audio and save slide decks for students to watch at their own pace, on their own technology. However, this is only if they've got the downloadable OS X app.

Apollo's response tools open up further options for formative assessment, and the inclusion of draw-on response questions (where students can literally draw a digital response) improves upon the variety of digital assessment types usually available in this type of tool. On the whole, Apollo is relatively new and will likely develop over time. While the collection of tools here offer a lot of possibilities, some of the features are not as easy to access and use as others. Expanded availability for more users and better help options could help smooth out the experience.

 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students will really respond to seeing content live on their own device. Teachers can adapt lessons to be digitally engaging, with live assessments and real-time content updates.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The tool does a good job or supporting blended classrooms, offering multiple ways for students to interact with learning content. However, teachers may need to augment their lessons to maximize the tool's full potential.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Help is available via email, but the support pages are limited. Information on some features is buried in the site's documentation. It's difficult to test lessons without two accounts: one as a teacher, and the other to act as student.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Chris C. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Heathcote School
Scarsdale, NY
Great way to make a PowerPoint interactive & cloud accessible

Overall I think Atlas has some great potential. I'm not sure if it's worth it at it's current price point, but it is definitely interesting technology. My students were very much engaged and I did have viewers from outside of the class following along with the lesson. the technology and possibilities are definitely interesting, I would definitely recommend signing up for the free trial and giving it a try. The $10 a month might definitely be worth if for some teachers, but might not be for others.

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