I am a big Evernote and Remember the Milk user. I keep Evernote as mostly just a clearinghouse of all my notes I take at meetings, along with passwords and settings for a variety of applications. It works for me. Not perfect (oh, how I miss you Sandy…), but it does the job. What I would like is something built into Android. Yes, I will admit to the Apple fanboys out there that some, I repeat some, of their built in things work. Looks like, with the release of Google Keep, Android may finally get some of those things built in. If they can make it work, as the video shows, this could definitely go a long way to bringing Android on par for productivity with iOS. I am going to try it and see how it works. If I can abandon Evernote and RTM, that would be huge!
So who does not like games? Especially in a school. I remember teaching, using wastebasket basketball for spelling practice. Now in the 21st Century, everything is digital. With our annual state technology conference (NCTIES) coming up, of course we get innendated with offers from vendors. One, though, pieked my interest. The Teacher Gaming Network (app.teachergaming.net). On the site you can create a variety of games for your classroom. Things like Case Chase (Deal or No Deal), Classroom Feud (Family Feud), and Elevator Madness. So to get the ball rolling, you need an account. Once you set that up, you need to either broswe through existing games and questions or create your own. Certain games take certain types of questions, obviously, so pay attention! I just searched through existing games and found one on the Dewey Decimal System (exciting, I know!). so then you can actually play the game. Creating games isn’t too tough. Definitely some interesting promise here. Maybe not from the standpoint of a teacher creating all these, but maybe by him or her dividing topics up and letting students create different games.
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!
So we finally moved into the gaming era, albeit quite late, with the acquisition of a wii over the holiday. The girls are quite the dancers and bowlers already! That got me thinking what are we doing with gaming in our schools? I will assume you hear about the interesting things they do with World of Warcraft in Pender County, North Carolina. Lots of teaching of history, math, and science using a popular role playing game. How about a school that uses gaming exclusively as their curriculum, as in the Quest for Learning School in Manhattan? And now we see many schools offering video game development using Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio (ok, so it’s Microsoft) through Computer Programming courses in their Career-Technical Programs.
I love all of this! Why do we continue to think we need to prepare students for taking on huge debt for four years of college they probably mostly will never use. Yes, we still need doctors and lawyers, but if a high school grad can design a game or an app and make a decent salary, why does this upset us? I have seen time and again students design Apple or Android apps, sell them for $0.99 a piece and make awesome crazy money. Why do we not want this? In programming you need logic. You need math, especially in the spatial sense. Problem solving. So many skills. Let’s move more and more in this direction. Higher Ed will feel threatened, surely, but they also need to change with the time. Maybe 1 or 2 year programs to further a student’s knowledge. Don’t stick them in a 4 year program and take electives that have no relevance to their program. Yes, they may lose some money, but that’s the way of the world!