Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Category: 12 Apps of Christmas (Page 1 of 2)

Day 12: Zombies, Run!

What is Zombies, Run?

Today’s app is Zombies, Run!, a quirky alternative to your ‘normal’ free health and fitness app. Developed by Six to Start, an independent and entertainment company based in London, Zombies, Run! Works on IOS, Android and Windows and described as ‘the world’s most popular smartphone fitness game’.

So as you prepare for the ‘run of your life’ here’s a little peek of what to expect from the app:

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Once you’ve signed up, Zombies, Run! sets the scene. Only a few have survived the zombie epidemic, you’ll play a runner en-route to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts and they need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors and defend their home – so the pressure is on!

There are lots of different missions you can complete, supplies that you can pick up and you’ll be able to monitor how far you’ve run and for how long with the built in run logs. The app let’s you register with the free online ZombieLink service to view and share your individual runs and also view your full run history including maps.

The great thing is you have the option to play by walking, jogging and running and can also listen to the story and your own music through your headphones while you use the app – so you’ll feel well equipped and ready to save the world!

How could this app help me?

There are several options to tailor the app to work to fit into any fitness routine. With a running commentary and warnings of zombies approaching, it’s easy to picture the scene and can be quite addictive to play especially if you are a completionist.

Definitely worth a download if you are looking for a more interactive, motivating fitness experience!


Day 11: Nearpod

What is Nearpod?

Nearpod is a fantastic collaboration tool for staff and students, which is available on iOS, Android and the Web. The app allows a class leader (whether that’s a student or staff member) to create an interactive presentation for display on other people’s individual devices – phones, tablets or computers.

It’s quick and easy to create this interactive content, and the material can range from simple presentations with questions to full-blown quizzes with corresponding feedback. Nearpod allows real-time feedback from the group to the class leader. For example, teachers can present the results of a group survey immediately to the whole class with the tap of a button.

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

There are two aspects to Nearpod: the creation of presentations and the viewing of those presentations.

In order to be able to create presentations a teacher will first need to sign up for a free licence. (We also have some paid licences available, which allow for more than the 30-connected-device limit that exists on the free licence. The paid tier also unlocks various extra features, which you can read about in more detail on the Nearpod website.) To build a presentation you use Nearpod in your internet browser. You can use an existing PowerPoint presentation as a starting point or you can choose to create new PowerPoint files specifically for use in Nearpod.

Nearpod Promo image

When you want to present to an audience, you simply upload the relevant file, ensuring that you have added any extra interactions that you want to include, then publish the presentation and run it in the classroom.

The viewing app is free from both Google Play and the Apple App Store, or you can access Nearpod on the web at Each member of the audience will need a device with access to the app or to the website. When the presenter begins the session he/she will be shown a code, to be given to the audience. An audience member connects to the presenter’s Nearpod by entering this code. It’s as simple as that.

How could this app help me?

Nearpod can help bridge the gap between teacher and student, and turn what could be a passive session into a dynamic one. Any input made by a student or teacher can be shown in real-time to everyone else in the class who has a connected device – a teacher can therefore tweak sessions as needed, perhaps going into more detail in areas suggested by the class or filling gaps in knowledge as identified by quizzes. The use of Nearpod can be a good way to shake up a normal lecture or seminar, and might even prompt a teacher to rethink their approach to a particular teaching session.

Ideas for using Nearpod:

  • Students and staff can use their own preferred device to interact with lectures, not something you’re unfamiliar with!
  • Students can work digitally in groups without having to use a main screen.
  • Receive instant feedback from in-class quizzes, and tailor the class according to its results.
  • Staff can enhance presentations with interactivity.
  • Encourages all members of a group to engage with the topic being discussed.

Keep an eye out on Tel Tales for more info on Nearpod in early 2018!

Day 10: Slack

What is Slack?

Today we’re looking at Slack — a messaging app that aims to reduce the amount of email sent between people working in teams. The app is available for iOS, Android, Windows and MacOS. Although it’s aimed primarily for teams of people in the workplace, it’s applicable to teams working together on any project. The benefits of Slack will vary depending on how you and those you work with communicate: if you chat a lot, share files and thoughts, and like the fact that everything is searchable, then Slack might just be for you. We use it in the 12Apps office and we love it!

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Slack requires you (or someone in your group) to take the lead and set up your team. This will be the place all of your communication is stored. Once you’ve done that you’ll need to invite the people you want to work with.

Slack organizes messages into what it calls channels. You’ll start off with some default channels, but it’s best to take the time to set up some of your own. Think of these as topics of conversation — in the 12Apps team we tend to set up a new channel for each project we are working on; this helps keep our chat on-topic and focused. Of course we all need a break so it’s also a good idea to create a channel for general off-topic chat, and perhaps even the occasional animated gif!

Notifications are extremely customisable in Slack. You can be notified for all messages, if you wish, but since that might become overwhelming there are options to reduce the amount of pop-ups you receive. You can instead choose to be notified only when your name is mentioned; or, which is what many of us in the 12Apps team do, you can enter keywords that notify you when they are used in messages by others. For example, if you were working on part of project that involved the use of Moodle, you could enter the keyword ‘Moodle’ and it would notify you when someone mentioned it. It’s a clever way of reducing the distractions that endless notifications can provide.

What’s crucial is that the app keeps everything up to date across all of your devices — that obviously includes your messages, but also the notification settings we have just looked at. These are all adjustable on one device and then they populate across to the other devices on which you have Slack installed.

How could this app help me?

Setting up open channels to discuss projects (or distinct parts of projects) has meant our team has been able to share much more of what we are working on with each other; this has helped us contribute ideas and thoughts to projects that we wouldn’t necessarily have been involved with before.

Having all your ideas about a project in one place proves to be convenient when you realise you need to search through your chat history for a specific exchange or file you sent to another team member a some time ago. Slack’s aim is that you spend less time searching for files and content, and spend more time creating — hence it’s tagline: ‘Be less busy’.

This is one of those apps where you get out what you put in — so if there’s a group of you who need to work together, give it a go!

Ideas for using the app:

  • Students can use the app to collaborate with other team members on their group work.
  • Staff could use the app to set up a team for a unit or subject area, to share ideas or work.
  • Really anything you need to communicate on, you could use Slack.

To find out more about Slack, check out how the TEL team are using Slack in ‘Is your team ‘slack’ing when it comes to communication ? ‘

Day 9: Duolingo

What is Duolingo?

Duolingo is a free language-learning app that works on iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices as well as the web. With the help of Duolingo you can attempt to learn around fourteen different languages, including most of the main European languages such as French, German and Spanish. The selection of languages available on Duolingo continues to increase, so you’re sure to find one you’d like to have a go at! The video embedded below gives you an overview of what the app aims to do.

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Duolingo is a brightly coloured app that’s fun and simple to use. Once you’ve signed up for an account you choose the language you’d like to learn, and then proceed through a series of lessons of increasing difficulty. Repetition is encouraged – if you don’t grasp something straight away, the app will suggest you spend more time on that specific area.

Screenshot of the duolingo interface

Duolingo is brightly coloured and engaging

In terms of lesson style, Duolingo makes heavy use of gamification. Each lesson consists of a variety of challenges – filling in missing text, choosing the correct meaning of words, translating spoken words or even pronouncing words or phrases into your microphone. All of these challenges are instantly graded, so you get immediate feedback on what you got correct and what you got wrong. If you get an answer incorrect you’ll lose a heart, and once you’re out of hearts you have to start over again – just like a game. The app gives you hints on what to work on, based on your scores.

To keep you coming back day after day, Duolingo records how many days in a row you spend learning your chosen language(s). This ‘streak’ keeps increasing until you miss a day, so make sure you don’t!

How could this app help me?

Whether you need to learn the basics of a new language for work or leisure, hope to get more out of your summer holiday, or want to get a head start on your IWLP course – Duolingo is a fun (and free) way to begin.
Ideas for Duolingo:

  • Teach yourself a new language in time for your summer holiday.
  • Learn an uncommon language for fun.
  • Brush up on that half-remembered French from school – and turn it into something you can put on your CV.

If you’d like to learn more about Duolingo visit their website – and have a go!

Day 8:

What is is a website designed to help you gain new skills in a variety of different subjects. As well as supporting your own learning it is possible to share courses, create playlists, embed courses into Moodle, all making it easy to support the learning of students and staff. All staff and students at the University of Portsmouth, have unlimited access to which contains a library of high-quality instructional videos covering a vast range of skills.

What does look like and how do I use it? homepage imageWith more than 5,000 courses taught by industry experts – and more added every week – is designed for all levels of learners, and it’s available whenever you’re ready to learn. You can access from, directly from or you can view courses on your mobile device by downloading the app.

Searching for a course in is as easy as using the search bar to find a specific course, or you can browse through categories if you aren’t looking for a course on a specific topic. You can then watch the lesson that you’re after.

As mentioned above, a app for iOS and Android is also available, and this enables you to learn on the go, it’s perfect for using that train journey to learn something new, or even refresh a topic you’ve learnt in the past.

Across the University, students and staff have accessed and viewed nearly 2000 hours of learning so far. Content from has been embedded into Moodle as part of provision by the Graduate School, it has also been used in the Enterprise toolkit. Many students are using to support their studies, for example the top course in Creative and Cultural Industries is for 3DS Max, animation software directly relevant to some of the courses. In Science statistics tools such as SPSS are popular, while general skills such as Excel and Time Management are popular overall.

How could help me?

You can use to access learning at anytime on any device to support your learning, professional development or teaching. It is possible to share courses, create playlists, embed courses into Moodle, all making it easy to support the learning of students and staff.

With you’ll get:

  • Unlimited access – Choose from more than 5,000 video tutorials covering business, creative and technology topics.
  • Relevant recommendations – Explore the most in-demand skills based on your interests.
  • Expert instructors – Learn from industry leaders, all in one place.
  • Convenient learning – Access courses on your schedule, from any desktop or mobile device.
  • Helpful resources – Reinforce new knowledge with quizzes, exercise files and coding practice windows.
  • Relevant content – Map content to support the learning of your students and staff.
  • Link certificates of completion to online profiles like LinkedIn.

To find out more and log into, visit

Please also join our Google Community, keep up to date, get ideas and it would be great to share how you’ve used in your own learning and to support others

Check out ‘ – Online training for everyone‘ written by our very own guru – Adrian Sharkey.

Day 7: H5P

What is H5P?

Today we’re looking at something new for this year, H5P. H5P is a content creation app available on the web and in Moodle at the University of Portsmouth. H5P allows you to create interesting and varied interactive content like Video Quizzes, Flashcards, Picture Sliders, Memory Games, and more! You can do all this really quickly through an easy to understand interface – with no coding knowledge required.

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

H5P content picker screenshotThe H5P website allows you to sign up for an account and save created interactive elements online. If you use the app within Moodle you don’t have to sign up, and you create your content directly inside the familiar Moodle user interface.

H5P gives you a variety of options when it comes to creating content. While we won’t go into the whole list here, a selection of the most interesting options include:

  • Multiple choice questions – create flexible multiple choice questions.
  • Course Presentations – create a presentation with flexible slides.
  • Interactive Video – create videos with questions for your audience to answer as they are watching.
  • Drag and Drop – create drag and drop tasks with images.
  • Flashcards – create stylish and modern flashcards.
  • Agamotto (Image blender) – create a series of overlaid images which fade in and out over each other.

H5P takes you through setting up whichever type of content you choose, with varying degrees of success. Some content types are easier to get to grips with than others, though to mitigate some of this complexity there is an active community forum, whose members are more than willing to help experienced and new users alike. Of course in addition to this, our own elearn team offer training and assistance for staff who want to get to grips with H5P.

Each content type has pre-made examples for you to try out, this helps you visualise whether a certain content type fits what you are trying to accomplish, though as always we’ve found that the best way to explore all the options that H5P offers is to sign up for an account and have a have a go with the different tools yourself.

Whilst creating content on the H5P site is excellent for embedding it a variety of places, the Moodle integration is really good if you want to record the scores students get in each of the activities, as H5P will record them in the Moodle gradebook, using H5P from the website won’t do this.

It’s worth noting that you’ll find that the tools that are offered on the main H5P website may differ from those that are available in Moodle directly.

How could this app help me?

H5P is an excellent way to create new and interesting types of course content for students. It’s easy to get stuck creating the same sorts of activities for students over and over, so H5P offers a simple way to expand what you can offer students studying your course.

It’s also really useful for students who want to create website content for their projects really quickly and easily.

If you’d like some more information on H5P and what it can do for you, contact elearn and ask about our training programme.

Day 5: NUS Extra

What is NUS Extra?

Today’s app is NUS Extra, a free lifestyle app to accompany the student discount card, which University of Portsmouth staff can also take advantage of. Available on IOS and Android, with over 200 exclusives discounts from well-known brands, the app is the easiest way to keep track of them all.

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

When you first install the app on your phone you are prompted to enter your student (or staff) email address and password.

Once signed in, you can view your NUS account details and start searching for discounts in your surrounding area. You can search for well-known brands, find the nearest ones to your location and view the discounts they are currently offering.

The various discounts are organised into categories, these are then subdivided by brand. The categories you can browse through include:

  • Beauty
  • Books and Stationery
  • Eating Out
  • Entertainment
  • Fashion
  • Finance
  • Health and Fitness
  • Music and Technology
  • Supermarkets
  • Travel
  • Uni Essentials
  • International Discounts

A nice little feature to the app is that you can also save your favourite brands in one place so they are literally a click away when you are out and about and want to find out the latest discounts and offers.

How could this app help me?

It’s great if you are popping out for a bite to eat as the app will flag up the nearest deals in your area. It also works just the same if you are off on a shopping trip, which comes in handy this time of year if you are looking to save some money on Christmas presents!

If you haven’t claimed your NUS Extra card already make sure you do to take advantage of all the discounts available out there and download the app so you don’t miss out on any of the offers!

Day 4: Smiling Mind

What is Smiling Mind?

Today’s app is Smiling Mind, a free mindfulness app for iOS, Android and the web, created by a not-for-profit organisation of the same name based in Australia.

Mindfulness centres around taking time out of your day to become aware of what is happening at that moment. When you practice mindfulness you focus on what you are feeling and thinking right now. It’s an experience many people find therapeutic and relaxing.

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Once you’ve signed up, Smiling Mind takes you through an ‘introduction to mindfulness’ which gives you a taster of some of the exercises you can expect on the full programs. It’s worth noting here that the programs are all free of charge (unlike similar apps which follow a ‘freemium’ model, allowing you to download the app itself free of charge but then asking for payment for the particular features or programs you’d like to take).

Smiling Mind offers programs for all ages, from children as young as seven all the way up to adult. What seems to work well in this app is how the courses are tailored for specific age ranges, and so can address issues that people in particular age groups may need to address – meeting new friends, dealing with change, and so on.

There are also programs available for “Sport” and “the Workplace”. These are specifically designed to help you deal with the stresses and strains of those two particular environments.
The app asks you to rate your mood (pictured here on the right) based on a set of criteria. Doing this provides you with a record of how your mood varies from day to day, and helps you to assess whether working on your mindfulness is improving how you feel.

How could this app help me?

Mindfulness is something that many people don’t consider to be important, but research shows that it can help us stay calm and relaxed during our day. The app is free, so why not check it out and see if mindfulness can help you?

Ideas for using the app

  • Use the app a few times a week to help focus your attention on what’s happening around you.
  • Students could use the app to help relax before exams or other stressful work.

If you would like to find out more about mindfulness and other associated mental health topics, you can contact the Student Wellbeing Service on MyPort, who offer help and assistance to those who might want to talk to someone about a specific issue.

Day 3: Evernote

What is Evernote?

Today we’re looking at Evernote, a popular note-taking app available on iOS, Android & the web. The write up proved a popular in 2015 and it has such a variety of educational (and personal) applications that I thought it worth revisiting this year!

The app allows you to create a record of anything from simple shopping lists, to notebooks full of research images, files and notes for your course, all synced over the web for you to access wherever you happen to be. The video embedded in this section gives you an introduction to how Evernote looks, and some of what it can do. It’s well worth taking a minute to watch this!

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Evernote has a consistent look and feel across the web and the mobile apps so you’ll know where features are wherever you are using it.

Once you have downloaded the app on your chosen platform, you’ll be able to sign up to an account, and then you can begin. You can create things called: Notes, Notebooks and Stacks.

The easiest way to think of these are that Notes are stored in Notebooks, and Notebooks are stored in Stacks. Stacks are groups of Notebooks that may have a related theme or topic. For instance you could have a Stack of Notebooks with distinct themes, but which all ultimately relate your dissertation. This structure is the key to utilising Evernote to it’s full potential, as once you have everything in Evernote, it’s all searchable!

Diagram explaining Evernote file structure

Note, into Notebook, into Stack, it’s simple really!

We should mention the elephant in the room (i’m here all week): cost. Whilst there are paid tiers Plus, Premium and Business, the good news is that for most people the free ‘Basic’ option is more than sufficient for average use. If you really get on with Evernote then it might be worth paying for the increased upload space and extra features but it’s certainly not necessary.

Another pretty cool thing you can do is link your Evernote account to IFTTT (If This Then That) which is an online service that links up your various different apps with each other. For example, you may like to save your favourite tweets to Evernote, or perhaps save all screenshots you’ve taken on your iPhone to a specific notebook within Evernote. IFTTT makes this easy (and automated), we would encourage you to check out the website as there are lots of other uses both for Evernote and IFTTT.

How could this app help me?

You really get out what you put in when it comes to Evernote – jump in head first you might find it invaluable to your daily workflow.

One practical example is that each note that you add can be tagged with any number of terms or phrases that you can later use to sort through your notes. For example, if you were using the app to collect research for your dissertation, you could add a tag to mark every webpage, photo, article and lecture note you save, with it’s topic. Then, when you come to write down your ideas, you’ll have a list of your researched topics and their corresponding notes at your fingertips.

It works for collaborative working too – you can share notes with other Evernote users, allowing you to contribute for example in a group research project, or perhaps compare notes on a topic you have learned about in that day’s class.

Ideas for Evernote:

  • Create audio and visual aids for revision.
  • Search an index of all your work – time saved looking for that note you made at the beginning of term!
  • Collaborate with peers on both your work and your notes from class.
  • Use in class with students as an informal ePortolio.
  • Encourage collaboration amongst students (and staff).
  • Organising your own work.
  • Present notes on screen – to use in class or for your own research (paid feature).

If you (student or staff member) would like to dig a little deeper into the uses of Evernote, this article is an honest account of how a former Evernote skeptic makes use of the app in every walk of life.

Day 2: WhatsUp?

What is WhatsUp?

Today we’re looking at an app for students, and one that’s important for all staff to know about: WhatsUp?. WhatsUp? is an app for University of Portsmouth students availiable on iOS and Android platforms, which provides 24/7 safeguarding, wellbeing, and emotional health support.

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

WhatsUp? is an app which is supported by the Student Wellbeing Service, it’s an anonymous service, once you’ve signed up the data you record will only be used to identify you if staff had serious concerns that you were at risk of harming yourself or others.

Once you’ve signed up, your identifying information is kept private so you can record your thoughts & feelings anonymously in a personal journal, update your mood, or even find some inspirational quotes. The homepage provides you with a series of menu choices to access the different features of the app, it’s not complicated and is very straightforward to use. This is very much a personal app, and there is no outside contact from anyone unless you instigate it first.

The MyPort pages give a nice summary of the app, which lists the main features of the app as:

  • Rate your own mood.
  • Record a Personal journal.
  • Receive Inspirational notifications.
  • Raise a concern for someone.
  • Ask a question.
  • Wellbeing contacts to receive further information or help.

How could this app help me?

Mental health is something that is often overlooked, and it is tremendously important that you look after your own state of mind as your work through University. The WhatsUp? app is a

If you are an academic member of staff and you’re concerned about a student’s state of mind, you might find it useful to speak to the wellbeing service, but it’s also good to know about apps like this and to keep students informed of them.

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