Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was a primary school teacher before running a Museum and Gallery Education service. After this I became English & Gifted and Talented Advisor for Oldham LEA . I then moved to Blackburn LEA as a cross-phase Teaching and Learning Consultant.
For the past 15 years I have run the International Training Consultancy www.alanpeat.com. I am also the Director of the publishing company Creative Educational Press Ltd.
I became a Fellow Of The Royal Society of Arts (F.R.S.A.) in 2003 and more recently was awarded a Fellowship of the Historical Association (F.H.A.) ‘...in recognition of a significant contribution to the promotion and knowledge of history.’ (October 2010)
You've just launched your first app today. What led you move into this field?
The first app 'Alan Peat's Pocket App of Exciting Sentences' came about primarily from a desire to produce something with more collaborative possibilities than my book publications. I wanted an app which gave teachers key information about my sentence types and approach to grammar in a format they could access on their IPads and iPhones.
We are also a relatively small publishing company and making key material available in an app format makes my ideas more affordable for teachers working outside the UK (no postage costs!)
I work with clusters of schools internationally and have built note taking/lesson planning into the app so that teachers can save their ideas directly in-app. Importantly we have also built Dropbox compatibility and email functionality into the app so that teachers can share ideas across schools and networks of schools. This promotes collaborative working and is a logical extension of the way I work with schools in my training events.
Finally I was lucky to meet Doug Stitcher (Twitter @TheRenegade78) who runs Angel Applications As well as being a talented app designer Doug is also a Primary school Assistant Headteacher and so not only understood the design process but also, most importantly, the needs of the target audience.
Why did you choose to focus on sentence level work for your first app?
The book I wrote on this subject already is used in more than 20 countries and the app seemed like a sensible platform to add to the book in a way we can't do in book format. It's also clearly an area of need - work on grammar and punctuation take up more than 40% of my time currently. I also wanted to add a grammar glossary with teaching ideas which isn't in the book. The app also promotes a consistent-language approach to the teaching of sentence types which is fundamentally important in a whole-school approach to grammar. It also encourages the contextualised teaching of grammar - VERY important!
What are the key features of the app that will make it stand out in the App Store?
The key feature that will make it stand out is the huge amount of information and advice it includes for only £1.49 Value for money is of paramount importance. I wanted it to be a reference point teachers would find invaluable. In a sense it is a combination of an Ebook and an App and this makes it stand out from the crowd.
Is it aimed at a particular teaching stage or age group?
The app is useful with able infant pupils up to early secondary pupils. In terms of English levels, it's useful from level 2 - level 6/7
Do you think it could be used in the EAL classroom?
The main idea of the app - a consistent-language approach to sentence types - has already been used to great effect over 3 continents. Many of these schools have more than 30 languages. In such a situation the use of the SAME language to describe sentences from class to class is of paramount importance. It's hard enough learning a language which isn't mother-tongue without adding complexity to that process which is unnecessary.
In general, how important do you feel the use of mobile technology is to the modern educator?
I think it's hugely important that it is used to share ideas. I'd be lost without my Ipad but it's HOW the technology is used. Technology does NOT make a great teacher but a great teacher will harness technology both to their own and their pupils' benefit. Many of the apps now available are hugely useful and sometimes a simple use of tech ( turn your iPad camera on and use it as a mobile visualiser which connects to the interactive whiteboard using Apple TV etc) can have huge benefits in the classroom.
What other sorts of apps have you harnessed well to augment learning experiences?
Long, long list BUT...
Epic Citadel for multisensory locational writing;
Ultimate Alphabet App for information retrieval and vocabulary development; GarageBand for instructional writing;
Flipboard as a brilliant aggregator of RSS feeds.
I also like the Padworx apps - their 'Christmas Carol' interactive book app was superb. For older pupils the 'Shakespeare's sonnets' app demonstrates the possibilities of the medium.
I also recommend following @ICT_MrP on Twitter. He works with us and his ideas for the use of apps are fabulous. He is currently completing a book for CePress on Apps to develop Narrative writing.
What's next for you? Do you have plans for further app releases?
We have many further apps in the pipeline many of which will be based on my word games. the next apps will be aimed at pupils and will include a banned letter app and a reverse dictionary. If teachers want adding to my Apps list to be personally informed when a new app is released just tweet 'Add me to the Apps list' to @alanpeat on Twitter
How can our readers keep up to date with everything you're doing?
Follow us on Twitter @alanpeat I also retweet interesting and useful links and resources hereFollow the website: www.alanpeat.com (updates for conferences and INSETS etc)
Follow: www.thecepress.com for new publications including ebooks ( my last punctuation book is now available as an Ebook on cepress)
Alan it's been a genuine privilege, thanks for speaking with us. We wish you great success with your app launch and look forward to hearing more from you in the near future.