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Exploring free multimedia apps


New multimedia apps for mobile phones are being developed every day, and many of them are free. This lesson will give students a chance to explore these apps with a critical eye, allowing them to brainstorm specific uses for the apps in a journalism class setting. At the end of the lesson, students will create a rating system for judging the usefulness not only of these apps, but any new apps that crop up over the course of the year.


  • Students will explore multimedia apps for use in the classroom.
  • Students will analyze the user interface and ease of use of the apps.
  • Students will create a rating system for deciding on apps to use in the classroom.
  • Students will develop a persuasive presentation about their assigned app.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


Two and a half 90-minute blocks (225 minutes total)


Handout: Application analysis questions

Rubric: Rating system for multimedia app selection/app presentation

Handout: Creating a rating scale assignment

Handout: Presenting your app: Should we use it or not?

Handout: Application cards

Dongle to connect iPhone/iPad OR Android to projector

Free Apps:

*Do not pre-load the apps if you plan to give school-owned devices to use. Part of the lesson requires students to look at ease of set-up, so they will need to be able to download them on their own. If they are using school-owned devices, you may have to be on hand to input usernames and passwords for the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).*

Video Editing




Photo/Video Montage




Voice Recording

Voice Record Pro

Rev Voice Recorder



DV Prompter

Teleprompter Pro Lite

Lesson step-by-step

Mobile Journalism Explanation – Brainstorm and Discussion – 15 minutes

1. Teacher should write the words “Mobile Journalism” on the board, and then ask the students to write for approximately two minutes about what they think mobile journalism is. You could have them use index cards, sticky notes, or an online brainstorming app.

2. Once the two minutes are up, have students share what they wrote with the person sitting next to them. In doing so, have them create a list of characteristics of mobile journalism.

3. After approximately four minutes, the teacher should read the following definition of mobile journalism from Wikipedia: “Mobile journalism is an emerging form of new media storytelling where reporters use portable electronic devices with network connectivity to gather, edit and distribute news from his or her community.”

4. Have students take that definition in mind and narrow their list of characteristics, eliminating any characteristics that might no longer apply.

5. The teacher should lead a full-class discussion, making a list of all the characteristics of mobile journalism. What students will see is that mobile journalism relies upon one very important tool: your phone. To make the most out of that tool, mobile journalists need to have applications that will help them do their job.

Application Selection and Analysis, Group Work – 75 minutes

6. The teacher should explain that we will be exploring eleven different apps (depending on the number of students, feel free to eliminate one app from the categories that have three apps listed), broken down into four categories: Video Editing, Photo/Video Montages, Voice Recording, and Teleprompters.

7. Students will draw cards with an app’s name on it out of a bucket/hat/basket not only to decide which app they will work with, but also their group. Make enough copies so that every person in the class gets one card and so that groups are relatively even. Again, feel free to eliminate one app from the categories with three listed in order to create even groups.

8. Once students have found their groups, pass out the “Application Analysis” handout, have them get out their mobile devices, and download their assigned app. If you find yourself with a group that does not have a mobile device, provide a school-owned device, or have them complete the “Application Analysis” via internet research.

Presenting Your App, Planning – 30 minutes

9. Once the group’s research is complete, the group should plan a persuasive presentation, arguing either for or against use of the app in your broadcast program. Each group should get one handout explaining the assignment.

10. Students should decide the best way to demonstrate the app’s use. If the teacher has a dongle for students to project their demo, they can demonstrate in real time. If not, students will need to find a way to demonstrate the app’s functionality.

Presenting Your App, Presentations – 60 minutes

11. Students will present for no more than five minutes on their app, with the aim of the presentation being to persuade the audience to agree with their recommendation.

12. While each group is presenting, the audience should be keeping a list of the most important things that a broadcast program should look for in an app.

Creating a Rating Scale – 45 minutes

13. Groups should use their notes from presentations as well as their “Application Analysis” handout to create a rating scale. This scale should be appropriate for students to use when judging whether or not the broadcast program should add a new app to its toolbox.

14. Optional: If you so desire, the Broadcast Executive Producer/Editor-in-Chief could look at all of the rating scales in order to create a consistent rating scale for us by the program when looking at new apps for staffers to use.


For students that need more support, the teacher should go through the “Application Analysis” with one of the apps as a model, remembering to remove that application from the card. Alternatively, the teacher can model with Videolicious (link to lesson plan).

For more advanced students, after the presentations, students should select an app and create a multimedia product using that piece for publication consideration.