Wednesday, September 28, 2011

QRPedia - QR Codes for Wikipedia Entries

QRPedia is a neat website that was featured on Read Write Web this morning. RWW called it "the coolest QR thingy ever made." I don't think it's the coolest ever, but it is pretty neat. QRPedia is a tool for creating QR codes for any Wikipedia page in any language. When scanned the codes generated by QRPedia will automatically recognize the language of your phone and delivers the corresponding Wikipedia page in that language. Watch the video below to see how QRPedia is being used in museums.

Applications for Education
One way that you might use QRPedia in your school is to have students add QRPedia codes to collage-type assignments to enable the sharing of more information in the same amount of space as before. For example, you could have students add QRPedia codes to a Glogster collage.

Add Data Visualizations to Your Google Site

If you're a Google Docs users, and especially if you're a user of spreadsheets in Google Docs, you probably know that Google Docs has some nice data visualization tools built into it. Starting today you can use many of those same visualizations in Google Sites. To do this just open the "insert" menu in Google Sites, select "charts," then select the data set you want to create a visualization of. Visit the Google Docs Blog to learn more about this new option in Google Sites.

Applications for Education
Give students a big spreadsheet or large unorganized data set and they might sit and wonder what to do with it. Take that same data and put it into a easy-to-read graphic and they can do a lot more with it. If you use Google Sites for your course website now, it just got easier to give students accessible data to work with.

What is CNG? An Animated Explanation

If your any part of your science or social studies curriculum deals with alternative fuel sources, Explania has a short video that may be of interest to you. What is CNG? is a short explanation of compressed natural gas, where it comes from, and the benefits of using it compared to gasoline or diesel.

What is CNG? - Explania

The video was sponsored by a compressed natural gas company so you will want to have a discussion about bias with your students if you do choose to show the video.

7 Good Screen Capture Tools for Teachers

Introducing new technology tools to your students or to your colleagues can become a frustrating exercise if you end up repeating the same step-by-step directions over and over again. Not only is it frustrating for you to repeat those directions, it can also be frustrating for the students who want to go ahead but can't because you're waiting until everyone is on the same page. One way to avoid that is to create annotated screen captures of the tools you're introducing. Another way to avoid repeating directions over and over again is to creating screencast videos in which you explain each step of the process. Here are seven tools that you can use to create annotated screen capture images and screencast videos.

The tool that I use most often of creating annotated screen capture images is Jing. Jing enables you to take a picture of part of your screen or all of your screen. Once you've captured the area you want in your picture, you can type on it, draw arrows on it, and highlight sections of text within it.

To use Jing you must download and install the free software for your Mac or PC. Once it's installed, launch it and it runs in the background until you need it. You'll know that Jing is ready for you to use because you will notice an orange ball in one of the top corners of your screen. It takes up very little screen real estate and is ready to use whenever you need it. You can also use Jing to record a video of your screen. Simply select the area of your screen that you would like to show, click the record button and begin talking. Jing will capture everything you say and do for up to five minutes. A free Jing account allows you to store your videos and screen captures. For $15/year you can upgrade to a "pro" version which will allow you to resize videos and share them directly to YouTube.

Show Me What's Wrong is a free service offered by Screencast-O-Matic. The service is designed to help you help others with their computer problems. To use the service enter your name and email address to have a custom url assigned to you. You then send that url to the person who needs help. They open the link and can start recording their screens and talk about the trouble they're having. When they finish recording the screencast is sent directly to you. Watch the two minute video below to see Show Me What's Wrong in action.

Screenr is a very simple, easy-to-use tool for creating screencast videos. Screenr is an entirely web-based tool that you can use to record part or all of your screen. To use Screenr sign-in with your Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, or LinkedIn account. The recordings you make using Screenr can also be published to YouTube or you can download your recordings. Screenr offers a universal player that you can embed into your blog or website. This universal player will automatically display the right kind of video for the device it's being viewed on. So if people view your site on their phones they will be shown a video that plays correctly on their screens.

Sketchcast provides tools to demonstrate ideas and concepts through drawing and voice. Using Sketchcast is as easy as drawing on a white board while explaining a concept. Sketchcast provides users with a place sketch diagrams while speaking at the same time. The sketches can then be embedded into a blog or shared via email.

Aviary is best known for offering a comprehensive set of online image editing tools and audio editing tools. They also offer a free screen capture tool called Talon. Talon is available as a Chrome extension and as a Firefox extension.

Awesome Screenshot is a great Chrome and Safari browser extension for capturing, annotating, and sharing screenshots. Once you've installed Awesome Screenshot you can simply activate it from your browser to capture a page or region on a page, draw boxes, draw lines, blur out information, and add text to your screenshot. When you're satisfied with your screenshot you can save it locally or share it via the url provided by Awesome Screenshot. Watch the short video below to see Awesome Screenshot in action.

Bounce is a neat application that not only allows you to make annotated screen captures of websites but also allows you to instantly share those screen captures with others. To use Bounce go to their website then type in the url of any website you like and click "Bounce." Bounce will then create an image of that website on which you can draw boxes and annotate those boxes. You can create as many boxes and notes as you like. When you're done creating notes, Bounce will provide you with a unique url for your screen captures that you can share with others. If you create a Bounce account (optional) you and other Bounce users can annotate the same screen capture.

File Info - What Kind of File Are You Receiving?

If you're in the habit of collecting assignments via email or in a Dropbox through a service like DropItToMe you've probably received a file or two whose extension you don't recognize. Before you open that unfamiliar file check out File Info to determine the type of file you're about to open. File Info is a registry of file extensions with explanations of what each file type is and what programs you can use to open it.

Applications for Education
File Info could be a handy reference for teachers and students who are gathering documents and media files from a variety of sources. You might encourage students to use the registry to determine if the file type they have created on their home computers can be opened by one of the programs on the computers they use at school. Of course, if you're working with text documents the best way to avoid file compatibility issues is to use Google Docs or Zoho Writer.