I cannot believe it has taken me this long to cover Showbie. We just discovered this app during a PD meeting a few weeks ago. I immediately instituted it in my classroom, trained the students how to use it, and have not looked back since. It allows for incredibly easy document distribution to students and paperless assignment collecting/grading for teachers. It is intuitive, easy, useful, and pretty much free to use.
This app is absolutely essential for any 1:1 iPad classroom at any and all grade levels. I feel like a total iPad amateur for having gone a whole year without utilizing this app before now.
I had actually heard about Showbie last year. I downloaded it and looked at it for about five minutes, but didn't really “get” it. But that's because you can't “get” it by just looking at it from the teacher's side of the app with no students to test it on. Once I saw an active class set up in Showbie, it finally clicked. I'll try my best to give you the same “A-ha!” moment that I myself experienced.
First, you download the app and set up a class. The free version of Showbie allows you to set up classes of up to 35 students. After your students download the app, they create user names and passwords (I recommend a universal class password so they all have the same one and won't need to work hard to remember it) and then they join your class using the class code you were given when creating the class.
Next, you create “Folders” of the different assignments you want to give to students:
You name the assignment and pick a due date. One of the greatest things about Showbie is that it will send notifications to students whenever you add an assignment or change a due date. It is a brilliant feature, but make sure the students allow the app to send notifications or they won't show up. With the free version you can have 100 active assignments going at once (and can archive as many old assignments as you want; they can be archived and unarchived easily and repeatedly).
Once you create the assignment, the app will create a shared folder and then individual folders for every single student. The teacher can see everything, but the students can only see their personal folder and the shared folder. The teacher can then add stuff to the shared folder (resources for the whole class to use) or individual stuff to a single student's folder (like additional notes or supplementary materials that only a single child needs):
You can also add items to the folders by going to other apps, loading a document, and choosing Open in Another App. You can upload PDF's, Pages documents, Keynote documents, and many more. It works with a ton of apps and you can even send the documents to Showbie straight from your Dropbox app:
Students can then take the document from Showbie and open it in another app to edit. For example: I upload PDF worksheets for all the students to use for practice. They go to the shared folder and then open the worksheet in neu.Annotate+ to complete. Or if I give them a Pages document to complete, they can open that too.
When students are done the work for an assignment, they can then submit it to Showbie to “hand it in”. They can submit annotated PDF's, iWorks documents, Toontastic cartoons, Pinnacle or iMovie videos, Inspiration maps or outlines, scanned drawings they did by hand, or a million other things.
When they submit, be sure to emphasize that, if at all possible, they should submit documents as PDF's (so you can annotate/grade them in-app) and they should be sure to pick the correct assignment folder:
Showbie keeps track of when students submit assignments, so you will know if it is on-time or late. Once the due date passes, the app will even email you a list of how many students submitted the assignment. Students can keep submitting revisions or late work until you archive the assignment.
In-app you can view a document and (if it is a PDF) you can annotate it directly. Students will be able to see your comments and markings as soon as you hit Done:
For non-PDF assignments, you can leave notes or voice messasges in the student's personal folder instead. The free version limits your annotation colors and voice message lengths, but the limitations are reasonable and totally workable. You shouldn't have to pay for a Showbie license unless instituting the program school-wide or if you teach university classes with 35+ students per class.
You can also use it to store worksheets, syllabi, assignment directions, or other classroom documents. Just make an “assignment” with a due date at the end of the school year and students can access the materials for the whole year.
This post was long, but I really wanted to give you a clear idea of what this app is capable of. It is basically free, makes it easy for students to keep track of documents, assignments, and due dates, and lets you reduce your school's paper use considerably. I strongly recommend implementing it in any 1:1 classroom.
Feel free to leave questions or comments below.