Awesome Software Math Teachers Can’t Do Without

Having moved over from a new MacBook Pro to a newer MacBook Air at the end of this year I’ve had to take a hard look at the apps I had on my old computer to consider whether they were worthy of being ported over.

Here’s a run sheet of which apps made it and which ones didn’t.

Apps that made the transition

Alfred

I no longer have apps stored in the dock, and I love the clipboard, calculator and terminal features. I purchased this app during the year and have recommended it to most of my teaching colleagues.

Evernote

I wasn’t a big user of this service in 2011, but have used it extensively in 2012 and even became a premium account member in November (thanks MacHeist!). I love the Evernote Web Clipper as it easily allows me to share sites, videos and links with my students, and the only thing lacking in Evernote is notebook collaboration. My students still have to use Google Docs for this.

Dropbox

I don’t know how I lived without this service. Became a premium member when I splashed water over my MacBook Pro and the computer died – realised how vulnerable my data and documents were and learnt how to create symbolic links very quickly!

Office for Mac 2011

Even though I use Google Docs for practically everything I still ported over Office for student work. I use Excel perhaps the most out of the Suite.

Camtasia 2

Good screen-casting software. Processing of videos seems a little faster on the Air.

VLC

Great free video and DVD player without all the hassles QuickTime gives.

Reeder

Good app for keeping up to date with sites’ RSS feed. I am finding that I’m relying more on Twitter to keep up to date with popular personalities and companies. Don’t know whether this app will last much longer.

Kindle

Simple reader application for ebooks. I am finding that most of the recent books I’ve been reading on this device haven’t been purchased from Amazon, my last Amazon book was a gift to me (my last purchases being from sites such as: LeanPub and The Pragmatic Bookshelf)

MousePose

A great piece of software that allows your viewers to focus in on area where your mouse pointer is, also allows for clear display of keystrokes. Good for screen-casting software use.

Apps that didn’t make the cut

Skitch

Even though I’m a big user of Evernote, I didn’t particularly use Skitch very much. It had some advantages of being able to annotate images clearly, but that was about it.

iWork ’09

Having been a big user of the Microsoft Office Suite for many years I never really appreciated and liked the iWork Suite. Personally I think it needs an update, and I found the tables feature particularly annoying.

Mathematica 8

Sadly I haven’t had the time to devote into creating workbooks and therefore have hardly used it this year, found myself using Wolfram Alpha more.

Smart Notebook Software

I really didn’t like this software. A high school teacher needs simplicity when setting up their Smart Board, we need it to be hassle-free when moving from room to room and this service just had too many issues. From its heavy installation process where it takes forever downloading all the resources (most of which I think is geared towards primary school teachers) and connecting a Mac to it can be very painful – especially if you happen to have different versions of Smartboards within the school. My replacement is ConceptBoard – it allows for online collaboration, is quick and easy to set up, you can import any type of file and all they need for my needs is an app in case the internet drops out.

Adobe Creative Suite

Our school had a site-wide licence, but I never found any benefit with using it for my classes. Suited more the Design & Tech teachers. Have been using Sketchbook Express as a replacement – much simpler to use with Cintiq tablets.

While being a teacher means that we certainly have to be flexible with software changes, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on innovative products in the future. It will be interesting to see next year what apps will make the list or whether any of the apps dropped will restore themselves.