While my school system (and hopefully yours!) celebrated Internet Safety Month in February, we all really need to work on this year round. Whether at home, at church, or at school, we need to inendate our students and children with opportunities to discuss how to stay safe online. As I work toward clearing out my Google Reader and exporting it to Feedly (see about Google’s decision to kill off GR in an upcoming post), I came across a great resource, Planet Nutshell. Similar to the Common Craft videos from years back, Planet Nutshell makes nutshells on a variety of topics. They also look to monetize videos, but in some cases, they make videos for educators. Online safety is one such topic, and if you view the preview video I attached, you can go to their site to find even more. Good stuff!
We recently had our CTE (Career Tech Ed) Department purchase five Samsung 7.0 tablets. They asked me to load some apps, so I explored the Play store. With CTE, you have such a wide variety of areas. You have your business courses. You have your technical courses, like masonry and welding, and then your agriculture classes. So I explored around and found a decent set of apps. One thing I do not do enough is just explore the Play store. Lots and lots of good apps, and adding new every day.
For our business teachers, I installed a series of MS Office tutorials. While not the most interactive thing, I figure they use this and the tablets would be a good way to review. Interesting that some of these are Goodwill Foundation apps.
For our technical, tools are always a good thing. Smart Tools offers a great series of things like rulers, levels, sound tools, and more.
Of course you can always use the camera and other built in tools. But the point is you really can load anything for any area. We hope to now get them to use these more interactively. Small steps!!
So nice to talk about curriculum and know most of the people in the US can discuss it on the same level. Instead of each state creating their own resources, we can pool our content and find good things like Common Curriculum (http://www.commoncurriculum.com/). I recently discovered this after it being highlighted at one of our state technology meetings. The premise is simple. You sign up for an account, put in the subjects you teach, then begin dragging and dropping resources to create your plan book. It searches the Common Core to help with objectives, and allows you to put in your resources. Pretty nice user interface and tool. I plan to look into it a little more.
You know QR codes, right? Those little squarish things that resemble, kinda, the old screens on a b/w tv when the programming was over. So anyway, these QR codes allow you to tie some webpage or anything, really, to your phone or device with a camera.
Ok, so I will go with the presumption that you can scan QR codes with Apple like you can with Android. I seriously do not know. On the Android side of things, you can use an app like Google Googles. You ‘take a picture’ of the QR code, and it will pop up the link, video, file, etc. Pretty neat.
I recently saw an article on Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com/5973021/turn-your-daunting-project-backlog-into-a-fun-and-actionable-qr-code-to+do-list) where you could turn your regular to-do list into a series of QR codes. The thought, then, becomes not knowing what task is next, throwing some randomness into your daily chores or workload.
So I started thinking…how could you use this in education? Lots of ways! With students, you could have them in groups and have each group use their phone or tablet to scan a QR code to see what their task is. Or some type of quest or scavenger hunt, with a series of QR codes acting as clues. Then how about just choosing partners? Nothing says random like this does. Use centers? How about using some QR codes to put students into their centers or for them to receive their tasks for the centers. Or studying history? How about different historical figures each getting a QR code? Or maybe historical events?
Then what about professional development? I for one HATE group work. Just give me my task and let me complete it. Maybe using QR codes would motivate people like me. Maybe each QR code is under the seats, and those people sharing the QR codes do an activity together. Maybe Common Core meets The Amazing Race. Or maybe you have three or four concurrent sessions. Maybe use QR codes to shuffle people into different sections.
Lots of potential here. I believe I will soon try this. Love seeing some, almost forgotten, technology used in new ways.
QR code–created at website: http://www.qrstuff.com/
What college student doesn’t like free textbooks? Heck, you tell your parents to send money for texts, use free ones, and you pocket the rest, right? Boundless, a site that uses Creative Commons textbooks, will allow you to do that. Of course, K12 Open Source Classroom will not condone that though!
Boundless (www.boundless.com) seeks to provide open content to students. They work with the Open Educational Resources community to provide this free content.
So you go to the site, create an account, and choose your school and then classes. This is exclusively a higher ed entity at this time, but I can definitely see the promise for high school in the future. As you go through your courses, you will find some open textbooks. It does not seem like all the courses provide open texts, but my school I used to sign-up, North Carolina State (go Wolfpack!) has some using Boundless. You can also just browse an entire list of available texts at https://www.boundless.com/textbooks/. You can find a wide variety of courses from Accounting to Art History and from Marketing to Microbiology. When you drill down into a course you find a nice outline, and then your actual text. Boundless also provides other materials like study guides, quizzes, and flash cards for registered users. Pretty nice tool!
How great for a college student! If all their classes supported this, they would probably only need something like a tablet device for school. Instead of the hundreds of dollars put toward textbooks, put that to a device (although making sure to put a little to the good folks at Boundless who run the site–they need to eat too!). Do the publishers like this? Of course not, but they have had their run. Now it is time for us to shift directions, getting more crowd-sourced, current information. More engaging and interactive content as well. Now, just to see it at the high school level!