Technology Column - End of Year Lists

by Shaun Wilden

* Please note this article was written at the end of 2014.

I’m writing this at the time of year when media sources start to compile their ‘best of’ lists.  Therefore, inspired by that theme, I bring you the three apps I have enjoyed most this year from an educational standpoint.  That is not to say that they are apps that came out this year, but ones I have got the most out of, be it with students, trainees or teachers.

First up has to be iMovie (1) trailer, the often-overlooked gem that comes as part of Apple’s iMovie. I wrote at the beginning of the year about learning from outside of the profession and iMovie is one of those things I learned.  The sheer simplicity of trailer has made it the ideal project to show off the potential of tablets in language education.  If you’re coming to the DoS conference, you’ll see first hand how easy it is when I do a session on it.  In a nutshell, iMovie trailer provides a template for pretty much every genre of movie trailer.  The idea is that the user simply adds photos to a template to create a trailer.  You can see an example of a finished one below, it also happens to be my favourite of the many that I’ve overseen this year: (2)

On seeing the trailer you might wonder how iMovie trailer aids language learning, after all there is little language in the trailer itself.  However, that comes in the planning and evaluating.  A trailer needs to be planned. For example the class (or groups in a class) can discuss what the topic is going to be and which template to use? Once these are decided then the students need to decide upon 12 -18 photos and videos clips to realize their trailer. All this being done in English provides an excellent focus for language production.   An additional boon is that it doesn’t require the class to have tablets, one will do as all the planning can be done on paper and photos taken on the students’ own phones.  To assist in the planning, the website has produced downloadable versions of the templates (3).

App number two is Aurasma (4) I’ll visit that more in the next issue. Often described as the app that allows you to create a Harry Potter style daily prophet, it has gained more popularity in education as the year has gone on, being recently reviewed on Edudemic (5). It does take a little learning (to make your own you need to have an account on aurasma studio), but once you have got to grips with how it works the virtual reality classroom is ready for you to embrace. From interactive flashcards to wall displays that come alive, there are many ways to use the app in the classroom and a good starting place for ideas is the kleininspriation blog (6)

My third choice is one of my favourite finds this year, Plotagon (7).  It works on computers as well as iPads but I have only used the iPad version. You should also note that it is a freemium app so for some things you need to pay, though the free parts are enough for a creative project.  Simply speaking, Plotagon turns the written word into video and as such can be the spark for creative writing and language practice.  Imagine the motivation from a story-writing lesson where the story comes to life.

As you can see from the image, on the left hand side of the app you have a place to write a script. Here you type dialogue, stage directions and even audience reactions.  This is then realized in video as you can see in the top right of the image. Once finished the video can be exported to youtube (or Facebook) for people to view.

So that’s it, three apps to add creativity to your classroom.  I always say the tablet (or phone) in the classroom is not there simply because we can use it. Using them as tools must give added ‘value’ to the language learning process and I reckon all three of these apps provide a catalyst for both creative and motivating projects and a lot of language practice for any age of student.

Happy creating.


Author’s Bio: Shaun Wilden has been involved in English language teaching for over twenty years. He is currently the International House World Organisation Teacher Training Coordinator. He also maintains several online teaching sites including and is interested in the application of technology to teaching. He is a moderator of the twitter
#eltchat group which meets every Wednesday to discuss issues and ideas in ELT and membership secretary of the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG. Feel free to follow him @shaunwilden or read his blog ( When not sitting at a computer, Shaun enjoys growing food in his garden and then cooking it.