Developing Systems Thinking through app prototyping in Keynote

Keynote is one of my favourite and most ‘go to’ apps on iPad. It’s versatility and accessibility for all learners makes it one of the most dynamic apps around. More recently, I have been exploring the power of systems thinking and how students can develop this level of interconnectedness in meaningful ways, through app prototyping. Systems thinking refers to the structure of systems in everyday life, from basic workflows, solving mathematical problems, governmental system structures and even something as simple as a choose your own adventure book. It relates to how all parts of a system are connected and dependant on each other.

So to create something like this, of course my go to app is Keynote. It allows students to prototype their very own app in a short space of time, while developing the soft skill of systems thinking.


Keynote Screenshot of Template
Students use Keynote to 'map out' their app while exploring systems thinking.

Here are a few tips to get started making your first app prototype in Keynote.

  1. Set your presentation to ‘links only’
  2. Create a working model for your students which has a connection to a real world problem.
  3. Provide a scaffold (template) to support students at a range of learning abilities.
  4. Use real examples of app layouts to provide a nice look and feel for your app.

*special note - all of these tips are explained in the video below. 

I hope this has inspired you to use app prototyping in your classroom to engage your learners in systems thinking, but also provide new ways of sharing their learning with a larger audience. 

A few ideas to use this in the classroom:

  • display learning from an inquiry-based learning unit.
  • create a how to app to showcase procedural text understanding.
  • publish a ‘choose your own adventure’ novel based on choices.
  • showcase learning in a portfolio, encompassing videos, photos or any media created.
  • And many more…

Please comment below any other ideas that you may have to use this in the classroom and I look forward to seeing what your students create.

More information:

Keynote User Guide

Everyone Can Create Drawing

Systems Thinking Explained (NSW Dept. Education)



8 replies

November 28, 2022

Great job in sharing the keynote template and also explaining the functionality for systems thinking!

December 02, 2022

Thanks Matt! Glad you liked it - hope the Keynote file is useful :)

November 29, 2022

Keynote is awesome for this. Another idea is a tour around your school.

December 02, 2022

Thanks JJ love this idea. Students would have some fun creating links for their own school, a great example of student voice 🎤

December 02, 2022

Thanks for sharing these ideas for app prototyping across content areas! I could see this working in preservice teacher education, too, for students to demonstrate their understanding of the systems thinking that goes into lesson planning. Could be really interesting!

December 04, 2022

This is awesome - thanks Coby! It blows my mind just how versatile this app is. Love the download - those app assets are so handy!

February 21, 2023

Really enjoy this resource and video Coby - and thanks for the template :)

February 22, 2023

Great post, thanks for sharing! I've been doing something similar, and discovered the full iOS UI kit available for download from Apple - it expands a bit on what you provided here in this great template, thought it may be helpful! The .key is attached.

I have also found that using the San Francisco font and SF Symbols icons adds a lot to the prototying process on a mac, makes everything feel more "real world!"


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