Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

I'll APP-ly to your eye, remedy

Shakespeare Pro for iPhone&iPad

Shakespeare entered the world of  iPods, iPhones, iPads, and all Android devices early on. App designers found that using the complete works was cheap and easy as the texts were already available in the public domain.

Just take a look at the iTunes store and you’ll see a variety of Apps, from Shakespeare Pro to Shakespeare in Bits.  Unfortunately, you’ll also find a “free”  No Fear Shakespeare app, which according to the angry comments I read, only gives one access to purchase individual plays in “modern” translations.

Android users also have access to lots of Shakespeare apps such as the free Shakespeare (Beta) and one on the Sonnets which includes audio versions as well as text.

We at the Folger are looking into creating a Folger app, and we need your advice. Here are a few questions we’d like to ask you. Please post your responses in the Comments sections.

  1. Should the app be designed for students, teachers, or the general public?
  2. What would you want to see in a Folger app?
  3. How do you use the Shakespeare apps that are already available?
  4. What’s the best and worst of those apps?
  5. What features of non-Shakespeare apps do you find most useful?
  6. Take a look at www.folger.edu and tell us what parts of our site you’d want in an app.
So please post answers to these questions in the comments section.
When I begin a workshop on Teaching Shakespeare with Technology, I often challenge the crowd to take out their phones or tablets and  tell me the opening line of Coriolanus.  The record is 7 seconds.
If you want to contact me directly, you can at MLoMonico@Folger.edu.  I look forward to hearing from you.


  • Please design the FREE app for students’ use. They need a well-done version of notes — hopefully in a parallel column, line by line — to help them with language. My freshmen relied on their print version for notes — most of them didn’t access the link to well-done online versions of Romeo & Juliet with notes. We are an “everybody has an iPad” school, and my older students love the iBooks tools available as they read The Scarlet Letter or The Life of Frederick Douglass. Maybe going the iBooks route would be the best bet for a truly student-friendly version of the Collected Plays.

  • My favorite literary iPhone app is from the Poetry Foundation. An index like this might be nice for the sonnets.

    As far as the plays, it would be great if an agreement could be made with PBS or with the Royal Shakespeare Company where you could provide links to theatrical performances of the plays from the app. For instance, at the beginning of Act IV, Scene i, students could click a link to watch the scene from the Sir Patrick Stewart version from PBS. That would be cool.

  • What I would like is a way for the kids to make Facebook pages for Shakespeare’s characters and then have a space for the other characters to respond. I found one site that will do this (http://myfakewall.com/) – but it had major technical difficulties. Great idea for a site – but it had major technical flaws (slow to load, accidentally deleted pages, often unavailable online for hours at a time, problems uploading photos). A site made specifically for Shakespeare’s characters could be pre-loaded with graphics and the bio questions could be tailored to the plays, etc.

    I also like Chauncey’s suggestions about the film clips.

  • Hi Mike,

    As you probably know, I’m developing a mashable script tool app for the iPad with NEH funding, called “MyShx”. Bruce Smith is the co-PI and the developer (whom I’m really enjoying working with) is Bawtree Software (http://www.bawtreesoftware.com/) Bawtree uses the Agile software development strategy (similar to the iterative sprint processes George Mason’s crowd has been using for tools such as Anthologize) and I’m finding it very effective and engaging.

    I have lots of thoughts about this question are too long for a post like this. Shall we set up a phone call?

    Some highlights:

    — developing an app with a good software group uses all my literary skills of rigorous, nuanced description, quick study of new vocabulary, and clear, accurate writing. I’m feeling surprisingly well-suited to it and surprisingly satisfied, intellectually, by the process itself. And/but for the lead scholar it’s about as much work as teaching a class.

    — you need close involvement with someone(s) in your target user group, who has a lot of time to spend with you: the American Shakespeare Center is our generous partner in this: http://www.americanshakespearecenter.com/. We’ll be testing our MyShx prototype over the life-cycle of a play in production in 2012, then building out the tool for release.

    — it took some time for me to understand the intellectual property environment, so as to develop under a license that would maximize the usability of the code we create. Working that out carefully should (in theory) mean that code from several projects could be combined to create enhanced apps.

    Drop me a line at my email and let’s talk more.



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