Sunday, August 19, 2012

Google Moderator

Back from a much needed vacation, and ready to explore more ideas for incorporating mobile learning in the library!

Google Moderator is another back channel option (like PollEverywhere) except it also allows the audience to vote on comments. For example, I can set up a Moderator series asking for topics students would like to review for the midterm. Students can submit as many topic as they wish, and they can also vote on the topics their peers post. Then, Moderator will sort the responses based on popularity.
Moderator is easy to set up if you have a Google Account, and is available for Google Apps schools as well, just ask your administrator to turn it on.

Here are a few ideas I have for using Moderator in my school next year:

  • have students suggest review topics for exams
  • have students choose what topics they want to learn more about
  • have students choose their own research topics
  • have students suggest improvements for the library
  • have students suggest books for the library to purchase

And some ideas for administrators:

  • set an un-conference professional development day, have attendees suggest and vote on topics to be covered
  • use for faculty meetings to build the agenda
  • use for professional development days to get an accurate idea of what types of professional development teachers are looking for, and how many attendees you might have in a class if they got to choose

Once you have created your Moderator Series, you can share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or by email, you can also post a web address for users to access the series. For help getting started.

Here is a Moderator Series that I set up to get your feedback about what you might like to see on this blog!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

QR Codes

QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, are becoming more and more popular in the business world. You can see them on your favorite cereal box, your carton of milk, on billboards, in magazines, in name it, you probably find one. What they are is a 2d barcode that turns text into an image. When someone scans the image using a QR Code Reader, they may be brought to a webpage, given contact details, shown a piece of text, a video, and image, or almost anything you can think of that is hosted on a webpage.
The benefit of using QR codes is that you can deliver an infinite amount of information with a simple code. They are easy to create, easy to scan, and easy to incorporate into your curriculum. Here are a few ideas I have come up with:

For Librarians
  • Database Access Links
  • eTextBook Links
  • Library Website Access
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Book Reviews
  • Screencasts showing the steps explained in a paper based tutorial
  • Apps I want students to download
  • Quizzes, Surveys etc I would like students to participate in
For Classroom Teachers
  • Links on homework to videos that reteach the concepts taught in class
  • Link to websites with more information
  • Links to Classroom Pages
  • Links to Classroom blogs
  • Links to assessments (quizzes, surveys etc)
  • Homework Assignments (like you would write in the board, but easy for students to scan than to write the details)
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Orientation Activity for new students to the building (such as incoming freshmen etc)
  • Posted at the front door of a school linked to a map of the school for easy navigation

Generate QR Codes
Read QR Codes
Android Devices
Apple Devices

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Visual Searching

Do you ever need to conduct research on something, but don't know where to start? Do you ever have a broad topic, and want to narrow it down? Once upon a time, Google offered a gadget called Google Wonderwheel. I found it, and was amazed. I used it in my sample lesson when I interviewed with my current school. It was awesome, it was amazing, and by the fall of 2011 it had disappeared. On more than one occasion I thought of it fondly, and how useful it was to teach students to narrow down their research topics.

Welcome instaGrok!

When you access their website, you enter what you would like to learn more about. The site tells you it is "grokking" and then returns with a graphic map, suggesting related concepts. On the right hand side you are given key fact, and also lists of websites, images, videos, quizzes and a glossary.

But it is more!
Students can also create their own notebooks using instaGrok, keep track of sites they have visited, change the difficulty level of the results returned, and take the interactive quizzes to test themselves.
Call me nerdy, but I am giddy about this tool!

So what does this have to do with mLearning? mLearning is all about personalizing the learning experience for each learner, making connections and allowing them to expand their own lines of inquiry. Also, it does work beautifully on an iPad. I have not been able to try it on other devices though, so I don't know how it would do on a tiny screen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Overcoming a Lack of Flash

One of the biggest challenges I have had to overcome with using iPads in the library is the lack of Flash. This is particularly annoying because the eTextbooks we use require Flash to access them. How frustrating it has been to hand students log in information, but tell them they have to use the computers to access the books.

Thankfully, this summer I discovered the Rover App for iPad. Rover is a web browser that specifically designed for K-12 education to give access to materials that were previously unavailable on the iPad, this includes resources like educational Flash based movies and games. Rover uses the iSwifter platform to run Flash on a web server. It has built in cloud based web filtering to ensure that what students access using the app is appropriate and it even comes with some built in content for elementary, middle and high school.

It runs a little slowly, but that is to be expected when trying to stream Flash content. The best part is that it is FREE!

I will be sure to install Rover on my library iPads so that when I hand out log in information for our textbooks, I can also hand out iPads so that students can work comfortably at tables.
Rover opens so many doors for educational uses of iPads, and I can't wait to introduce it to my students!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Audience Polling

Audience Polling allows you to get instantaneous feedback from your audience, be it a faculty meeting or a classroom full of kids. This is just one of the many ways to incorporate mLearning into your classroom, and one way I intend to incorporate it into my library.

PollEverywhere is Free! Participants can respond via text, the web or Twitter. You have the option of "multiple choice" or free response polls, so really the possibilities are endless. Despite the name, it only works in the US.

Below is the poll I intend to use in the opening days of school to get an idea of what types of devices the students will bring to use in the classroom. This will help me and the teachers I work with plan activities based on the technology that is available to them. I will post the poll on the library website, and I will project it on the SmartBoards in classrooms when I collaborate with teachers.

It is important to me to know what devices students are using so that if I plan an activity that requires the use of an App, I can make sure the App, or a similar one, is available for the devices they will use.

Some other suggested uses for PollEverywhere:

  • Use as a back channel for students to take notes during lectures and activities (think of the movies you might show where students may not always pay attention). Having a back channel allows students to refer back to it to study for quizzes and exams.
  • Quick assessment of learning objectives to make sure your goals are being met.
  • Quick assessment of whether students did their homework, so you know how much time you need to spend on old concepts.
  • Bring entertainment to your room: for fun, put up a poll asking students if they want to see you perform a choice of entertaining things (such as singing a Justin Beiber Song, showing off your HipHop moves, hula hooping for an extended period of time...ok, the fact that I will be collaborating with two fantastic women with multiple talents who sang to their students at the end of last year gave me this idea!)
  • Put up suggestions for field trips and allow the class to vote.
  • Get feedback from your students about your lesson (I plan to do this a lot, because if they kids do not learn from the lesson, what was the point?)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Google Apps Education Individual Qualification

Google offers individuals a chance to become Individually Qualified in Google Apps for Education (and for some of their other products). They give you training modules, and time frames for working through them. Each test is $15, with a total of 6 tests to pass. The passing score is 80%, you have 90 minutes for each exam, and 90 days to pass all 6 exams to get the certificate. The certification is valid for 1 year from completion. You also have the option of completing other activities to become a Google Certified Trainer.

When I set out this summer (along with my fellow district librarians) to become Google Apps for Education Individually Qualified, I had no idea what I was in for. I have been using Google Apps personally for years, and thought I had it pretty much down. I printed out all of the learning modules anyway, and skimmed through them. As suspected, I knew most of it, so I challenged myself with the Mail test.

Yikes! For a company who thinks they are changing the face of education, Google certainly has a lot to learn about creating assessments to actually check for comprehension! What I learned was that the exams they give test your photographic memory of the phrases used in the training modules, but not your actual ability to use their products. I had envisioned some sort of virtual environment where they asked you to, say, "create an email to John Smith, and add a picture" or "organize the inbox files to be displayed alphabetically," you know, testing my ability to use the product effectively. Instead, I found multiple choice questions where the correct and incorrect answers were just one word different, and almost all of it was taken directly from the training modules.

Alas, I have finally finished all 6 exams, and here you have it, I am officially certifiable! Am I any more qualified to use Google Apps for mLearning this year? No, not really, but I did learn a few nifty things I didn't know before, and I have one thing crossed off of my summer To-Do List.

Friday, August 3, 2012

mResearch Introduction

I created this video to introduce students to apps that are available to help them conduct research. Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The beginning

This summer, as with every summer in the past 14 years, finds me learning new things, and hoping to apply them in the real world. And, as with other summers, I make a list in my head of all of the things I hope to accomplish this school year.
This blog marks the beginning of my journey this year. I hereby pronounce the following goals for myself:
  1. Actually post to a blog on a regular basis about what I am doing with technology and information literacy.
  2. Tweet on a regular basis about #mlibs, #mlibrary, #byod, #edchat and other related hashtags
  3. Become more active in PLNs 
  4. Work with fellow School Media Specialist Jeri Hurd to develop a series of mobile lessons for information literacy.
  5. Work with Jeri Hurd to turn those lessons into an interactive iBook.
  6. Try not to get involved in too many other projects which will sidetrack me from my ultimate goal.
  7. Earn Tenure.

This summer's task list is slightly less daunting:
  1. Complete Individual Google Certification process 
  2. Finish final paper for mLearning Course at UWStout
  3. Write guest blog post for DyKnow about BYOD
  4. Complete Product Reviews for T&L Awards