Posted on July 26, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
Everywhere I look, I seem to be running into these odd, boxy, hieroglyphic-looking images. I’ve seen them in magazines, at the grocery store, and even in a conference presentation or two. But what are they? Those images are called QR codes. QR stands for “quick response” and they’re sort of like UPC symbols on steriods. Unlike a traditional UPC which only relays information through one dimensional coding, QR codes transmit information through two dimensional coding and can send more complex data. QR codes work with smart phones allowing people to quickly scan the code and visit a website, watch a YouTube video, send a text message, add a contact or so much else. The great part about QR Codes is that they’re really easy to create. There are a bunch of websites where someone can create a QR code for free. I used QR Code Generator from the ZXing Project to create the adjacent QR code (which will link you to the 8 Blog!).
So, besides being neat aesthetically, what can an educator do with QR codes? One idea is adding QR codes to course syllabi to give students easy access to a website or a blog. Adding QR codes to equipment that students use could provide quick access to online tutorials. An educator organizing a field trip could have students access QR codes at different geographical locations to get further information or participate in an onsite assessment. QR codes could also be used for an academic scavenger hunt where students navigate around campus via information relayed through QR codes at different locations. With smart phones and mobile devices becoming more prevalent in schools, we should all expect to see more widespread use of QR codes academically.
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Posted on July 18, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
A few weeks ago I was trying to fold a sun shade that I had purchased to take to the beach. It’s one of those new foldable shades where you perform a few “simple” moves and it folds into a small circle. No matter how I tried, however, the shade would not fold correctly. For help, I turned where many of us go these days: the Internet. After performing a few simple Google searches, I found a tutorial that described how to fold the shade correctly.
The Internet is becoming the source for these “just in time” learning endeavors. Whether we’re trying to learn how to use a piece of software, solve a mathematical problem or remove the dash from a 2004 Saturn VUE (another problem I faced recently…), we find the solutions online in the form of tutorials that others have written to help us.
Tildee is a new service where people can write and access learning tutorials on a variety of topics. The unique part of Tildee is that it coordinates text-based directions, screenshots and video into a multimedia learning experience. Presenting tutorials in this way taps into the variety of different learning avenues that can help people master techniques. Tildee is a great resource for educators who are trying to learn some new software or for students who are struggling with some content. Writing a tutorial on Tildee would also be a great culminating activity for students as they finish up a unit. A teacher could assign students to write tutorials to demonstrate how to solve a combination circuit in a physics class or to explain the economical implications of raising the debt ceiling. Since the tutorials would be shared through Tildee, the students would be authoring new content that would be shared with the world.
I often talk to teachers about integrating technology into their classrooms to support and assess student learning. One of the concerns that people express is the amount of time that needs to be dedicated to teaching students how to master whatever application is being used. With sites like Tildee, an educator can provide resources to help students learn how to use a software application without taking away valuable class time.
To learn how to use Tildee to create your own tutorials, be sure to watch this short video:
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Posted on July 5, 2011 by Ollie Dreon
Imagine you’re working with a team of people and you want to create a ToDo list that the whole team can see and contribute to. Your team needs to check out FolderBoy. FolderBoy is a new service that is built on the idea of “collaborative organization” and couldn’t be easier to use. Simply create a list and start adding your ideas. To share the list with others, just click the icon and the list can be shared with anyone with an email address. You can even use FolderBoy’s chat feature to discuss the list as it’s being built. FolderBoy has some unique listing features that I wish other service would appropriate. For instance, lists can be moved to other locations so that ideas can be networked together, rather artificially segmented into some discrete, disconnected manner. Also, lists can be moved easily by dragging and dropping items from place to place.
Educationally, FolderBoy would be a great way to help students organize their thoughts as they begin a research project, especially if the project involved working classmates. FolderBoy would also be a nice tool to incorporate into a class where multiple activities need to be tracked and organized.
To see check out FolderBoy, be sure to watch the following tutorial:
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