As Technology has evolved over the last 10 years, the need for developers, of any type of software, to personalise their products to an end user they’ve never met has become fundamental to the usefulness of a product and its overall success in a heavily competitive market. The design behind Windows 8 devices has been shaped around this consumer expectation and can offer both students and educators a learning experience that’s tailored to their wants and needs.

Students can take a blank canvas approach to their work, and populate their start screen as well as their desktop with useful educational resources to facilitate their lesson and home work tasks. Such resources include the ever growing collection of Education based Windows 8 Apps available in the Windows Store, and what’s more many of these top Apps are absolutely free. The scale of learning focused apps covers a wide variety of categories. For pupils studying a range of subjects, even at KS2 and KS3, time is valuable to the overall academic success of a particular student.

Applications that can enhance productivity are welcomed across all sectors, but here are some fun and interactive offerings that student’s will enjoy using in the classroom. And best of all… they are free!

Mind Mapping – We’ve all used this method of brainstorming at one time or another to help get the ideas in our head onto paper and share with others or purely for self-clarification. One great app I’ve used is M8 Mind Map

M8 is really easy to use and presents an uncomplicated canvas for your thoughts, ideas and notes. Students can synchronize their maps across devices with its integration feature. It’s one of the more basic mind mapping tools, but for younger students a great foundation for presenting their ideas.

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Annotation & Note Taking – As an educator working with digital mediums, you’ll proably use PDF’s among other forms, to document work and send around to students. The only downside to this, is students having to copy and paste text key text or references. Welcome Drawboard PDF.

It’s pragmatic design allows you to view and markup PDF Documents, and avoids wasting paper by having to print out important documents for students to work upon. You can upload or create a new PDF using the range of illistrative built in tools such as text markup, highlighter, underline, strikeout and squiqqle lines. What’s more, using digital means you can simply erase any notes within seconds should you make any mistakes.

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For Note taking it really doesn’t get much better that OneNote. This is an App I use on a daily basis and for anybody else who liked to categorize their notes, it couldn’t be easier with the movable tabs across the top of the screen.

In addition to breaking up your notes by tabs you can also create as many separate notebooks as you like and as they are always visable at the side of the screen, they are easily accessible. Certainly saves fumbling around with lots of pieces of paper while trying to search for something specific. Speaking of search there is also a Search functionality should you forget where something has been saved. Similar to the Drawboard PDF, you have the option to use an array of tools to illustrate your notes, these include a range of drawing pens and the ability to take pictures from the camera on your device and insert into your notes. Another favourite feature of mine is snap view. Should you need to reference a website or take notes whilst watching a video, you can snap OneNote to the side of your screen with ease.

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Presentations - An App that I personally don’t use regularly, however for students I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate for classroom learning. The Record Voice & Pen App allows students or teachers to create presentations collaborating voice and video in an instant. Alternatively, students can start with a base recording , and simply draw on pictures or paper to annotate and highlight key facts. There are so many editing possibilities with this handy application.

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