Back to School Apps for Productivity – What in Your OT iTool Kit?

It is back to school time! You probably have apps for skill development, sensory needs, handwriting or curriculum support for your students, but what productivity or utility apps do you have for your professional use?

Productivity or utility apps support tasks such as documentation, presentation, entering data or charts, scheduling, note taking, time keeping/alerting, emailing information with others or needed later. There is a plethora of such apps available dependent on task, workflow methods or personal preferences. Here are a few good free and paid for apps that can help therapists, teachers or parents with productivity of organization:

Awesome Note HD – I have been using Awesome Note for several years now and continue to use it due to familiarity and for the features provided which offer me a means to enter OT and AT caseload, admin tasks, schedules and certain meeting notes. Being a visual person, I prefer creating a binder – like existence to organize my notes and artifacts I collect on my students. Available in a version for the iPod and a HD version for the iPad, Awesome Note provides a calendar, sticky notes, to do list, folders that can be color coded and named and the ability to import or take pictures within the notes for archiving samples of student work or other artifacts needed. Here is a sample of what it can look like:

This is how I start my year with my e-docs, agendas, schedule, meeting information and student info for the year. Folders contain separate notes for all of the students that I work with or topics. The student files can archive anecdotal notes, IEP goals, student specific schedules, or import pictures taken of student work samples using the iPad camera for paperless archiving and retrieval. I have taken pre and post sample pictures of students handwriting readily, logged student sensory levels, behavior or other OT IEP  information gathering here for IEP meetings. Not a perfect nor only type of note taking or data gathering system available, but it provides a paperless method of annotation, scheduling and archiving information on my iPad. The notes can be synced to my Google Drive for secure archiving and also provides a method of workflow with the use of my school iPad.

Servicing three different building and many classrooms requires knowing the class schedules of each building. Access to paperless, daily schedules of each building schedule and in service dates in Awesome Note   has helped immensely with organization and scheduling which for me can change from day to day pending student schedules and the need to support AT needs across buildings.

 Awesome Note  app supports my note taking, scheduling and reminders organized in one app and supports the workflow available within our school district.

Notability app – Compatible with iPad,  (.99) Notability is an advanced note taking and organizational app and a bargain at $.99. I use this app when going to workshops,  general class or meeting notes not directly connected to my professional caseload.

Here are some of Notability’s features :

  • Full-featured Handwriting –  Notability’s zoom window helps you quickly and clearly draw, let you copy, move and even re-style the color and width of any ink. Organizing notes is easy you can add or remove pages as needed.
  • PDF Annotation – Provides features to annotate PDFs: record, type or handwrite on anything. Share your annotations with anyone using email or Dropbox and more.
  • Advanced Word-Processing – Features  styling, outlining, text boxes, and spell check.   Other tools like bullets, bold, italic, underline, font presets, cursor controls, and more, help you create and organize your notes.
  •  Linked Audio Recording – Audio recordings can be automatically link to your notes.  Use the recording feature to capture your own voice for memos, presentations, or speech practice.
  • Auto-sync – Notes are always backed up in the cloud. Easily collaborate at work or school sharing ideas and notes on the fly.
  • Media Insertion – Enhance your notes by adding pictures from your photo library or from the iPad camera. Insert web clips, figures, and drawings to compliment your notes. The ability to crop, resize, and draw on images is available.
  •  Library Organization – Organize, protect and share  information. Drag and drop notes into a subject and use a password to keep notes secure. Auto-sync makes backing up simple: your notes are automatically uploaded to Dropbox, Box, iDisk or WebDAV. Import notes, PDFs, and RTFs from the cloud or web. And share notes via Email, Dropbox, Box, Twitter, iTunes File Sharing, and AirPrint.

Dropbox app – (free) available as an app for iPhone/iPad and Android, provides cloud storage of documents, audio and video.  Dropbox app and web-based service is an easy method of storing and transferring documents and media from device to device whether mobile device or to your computer.

Dropbox provides methods of organization and file sharing with privacy features to allow access to specific files to users given access. Here is a video on Dropbox features made for Android:

Dropbox  is an invaluable workflow service supporting file and media sharing between devices however dependent on Wi-Fi connectivity.

Classic Clock  app – (free) Provides a clock, stopwatch and count down timer to for timed tasks as standardized testing, writing, keyboarding, balance, coordination tests, activity tolerance, attention or countdown to forewarn changes in activities or therapy activities.

The free Classic Clock app timer does not alert when used in the background. Purchasing the full Classic Clock HD version (1.99) will allow alerting when running in the background.

Visual timer apps –  there are many visual timer apps that provide visual communication to students to begin and end tasks. Here are a few free and paid visual timers:

  • Time Timer app – (3.99) For iPhone/iPad provides visual timer like the portable Time Timers standardly used for visual communications.
  • Kiddie Countdown Timer – (free) visual timer providing count down visual of stop sign. Great for young children.
  • VisTimer app – (free/1.99) – The free version provides limited timer with paid version providing extended time options. Appropriate for older students

Email apps – Email services can be synchronized on your iDevice. Follow these steps to set up the first email account on your iOS device.

  1. Tap Mail on the Home screen of your iOS device. Mail Welcome screen
  2. Select your email provider. If you don’t see your email provider listed, tap Other > Add Mail Account.
  3. Follow the steps and provide the required information to configure your account.

If you already have an email account set up and you want to modify its settings, tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, tap the name of your account, and then your email address. Then tap any information you want to adjust.

If you want to add another account, tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account… and follow the onscreen instructions.

If you are synchronizing a work based email, contact your IT department for the information to connect your account. Synchronizing your email has many benefits however consideration of whether you want email readily available on your device if you allow students or others to use your device should be considered for confidentiality.

Calendar apps – iCal on the iPhone/iPad,  Google Calendar or Outlook among many other calendars can be synchronized. Options in Settings you can establish a default calendar to synchronize other calendars to provide a mobile method of organization, scheduling and alerts for work related events and meetings. Alarms can be set 5 minutes to hours ahead to help remind you of tasks.

Photo app – Original app installed on the iPhone/iPad, provides not only the ability to take and store photos but also the ability to create “Albums” to organize photos by subject, student or event for slide shows or stories.

Taking pictures or student work, schedules, notes, worksheets or screen shots of documents and pictures on the web provides endless opportunities to organize, save import or exporting images to share, produce or create!

What productivity apps are in your teacher, therapist or OT iTool Kit?


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in Android, App Reviews, Apps for OT's, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Occupational Therapy, Organization and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Back to School Apps for Productivity – What in Your OT iTool Kit?

  1. Adele MacNeill says:

    My favorite apps for making education material/home exercises are Snapseed ($4.99), A+ Signature ($0.99), Diptic ($0.99) and NoIMGdata ($1.99). All four apps are compatible with iPhone and Ipad. I take a photo with my camera and use the photo app Snapseed to edit my photo. It is one of the easiest to use photo editing apps available. I don’t use the photo edit function that comes with the iphone because it does not save your original photo – Snapseed saves your original photo so if you don’t like your saved edited photo, you can start over with your original. With Snapseed you can brighten a dark photo, crop the photo to show exactly what you want, and you can “straighten” crooked photos. There are many other excellent editing features available on Snapseed as well. A+ Signature is an app that allows you to add text to your photo. I like the different fonts available – there are other add-text-to-photo apps, but this one has more professional looking fonts. There is a free version (A+ Signature lite) too, but it has fewer font options and you can only add one line of text at a time (then you need to save photo and add text to the saved photo if you want to add another line). Diptic allows you to combine 2 or more photos into one photo. You can choose from many different layouts, and it has different filter options. There are other free apps that allow you to combine photos (eg. Pic Stitch, Frametastic) – I use Diptic because it is easier (and no adds). Finally, NoIMGdata is an app that will show and remove the EXIF metadata from your photo. If you have left the Location Services “on” for your camera setting, it is possible to view the exact location (longitude/latitude) of where the photo was taken. It is important to leave location services “off”, as leaving this information in the photo can compromise client confidentiality. NoIMGdata allows you to check to see what data is embedded in the photo, and also allows you to remove this data from the photo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s