Free Digital Storytelling Apps for iPads
Why the iPad Excels at Digital Storytelling
The iPad is an ideal device for digital storytelling, so it is no wonder that there are so many apps dedicated to just that purpose. It has two cameras for photos or video, a built-in microphone, and a high resolution touchscreen. When combined, the iPad becomes a powerful multimedia story building tool that is capable of producing high quality results with minimal effort.
Shadow Puppet EDU
With a version made just for education, Shadow Puppet EDU is a great storytelling app because it is simple enough for anyone to use. Kids and adults alike will be quickly up and running within minutes. Simply add the images you want to use as part of your story, and record an audio sample for each one. You can double tap to zoom in on an image while recording, and drag it around to pan to a different position. You can also tap the screen to highlight something with a yellow flash. You can pause your audio at any time, and swipe to go to the next picture. The finished recording will be seamlessly stitched together as a video and saved to the camera roll.
How to Craft a Great Digital Story
Adobe have an excellent free app for digital storytelling called Adobe Voice. It is clean, stylish, and very easy to use. Best of all, your finished product has a professional look that will instantly impress others. It produces a story in a similar way to Shadow Puppet, but with many more options. You can add your own images, or search through the 100,000+ images that Adobe has included for you to use with the app. There are also thousands of icons you can use too. Themes add animation and style to your story, while the audio that you record is processed by the app to give it a richer sound with more quality. Attribution for the images that you use are automatically included in the credits at the end to help model good digital citizenship. Find out more about Adobe Voice here.
Our Story for iPad
If you are looking to introduce young children to digital storytelling, then Our Story for iPad is a great way to do it. This app lets you combine pictures, audio and text into a digital book that is fun and engaging for children to use. Simply drag images from your camera roll to the timeline at the bottom of the screen, and re-order them as required. Tapping on an image will open it up and let you type a short amount of text underneath it, and/or record some audio. It's simple, but effective, and it is made by the Open University, so you can be sure that it is a quality app.
30 Hands is another app that is in the same vein as Shadow Puppet and Adobe Voice, but with a few additional features that those apps currently lack. For instance, there is a whiteboard tool that allows you to create custom titles or drawings for your story. You can also annotate over images that you selected as part of your narrative. 30 Hands lets you delete the audio on a given slide if you want the chance to re-record it, and finished movies can be saved to the camera roll for further editing in apps like iMovie. Overall, it is a great app and a must-have for the classroom.
It's not as free as it used to be, but Tellagami is still a decent choice for schools. It allows you to create and customize virtual person that you can use to tell a story. You can change the gender of your character, as well as their emotion and the background they are standing in front of. Once you are done, record or type your chosen story and watch your character automatically move to the expression in your voice, or the words that you chose. You only have 30 seconds of recording time, but in many ways that is a good thing. It encourages you, or your students, to be brief and to the point. Besides, you can always save the videos to your Camera Roll and stitch them all together as part of a longer story in iMovie.
If you like the idea behind Tellagami, but need a version for younger kids, then look no further than Chatterpix Kids. It has the same 30 second recording limit, but instead of creating a character, you take a photo of the person, or object, that you would like to animate. Then, draw a line where you want the mouth to be and record your audio. Once you are done, you can add a variety of filters, frames, stickers or text to your story, and then save it back to your camera roll.
Write About This Free
"I don't know what to write," said the student. It's a common complaint, but with Write About This, you can quickly solve that very problem. The app has a variety of pictures with writing prompts that help guide students towards the end product. They can type their story next to the picture, and/or record audio of the text that they type. Finished stories can be saved to the iPad's Camera Roll as a video. The free version of this app has 19 images and prompts to choose from, but you can also add your own pictures for more variety. Alternatively, you can try Tell About This, from the same developer.
If you are looking to create something more visual, check out bookabi. You build your story with some simple drag and drop selections from a variety of backgrounds, posable characters, objects or stickers that are included with the bookabi app. You can add text, audio, and even your own background images if you prefer. The free version comes with in-app purchases, so only includes a limited amount of usable media, but it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to take advantage of the free content you do get without paying for more.
Most people use an app like Educreations to create screencasts on an iPad. However, there is nothing to say that it couldn't also be used for digital storytelling too, and there are many cases where it is used for just that. You can record your story with live annotations to produce a video, but you may be better setting up all your pages ahead of time with the text or images you need, and recording the audio over the top of that. It is great for fiction or non-fiction, and projects can be shared easily via the Educreations website.
So, the next time you are looking for an authentic storytelling activity for students, or for your own children, take a look at some of the apps above. Each one is a guaranteed to be an engaging, interactive experience, but best of all, they won't cost you a penny!
© 2014 Jonathan Wylie