Friday, March 21, 2014

OpenStax Releases Principles of Economics - A Free eText

OpenStax College is an initiative whose purpose is to create and distribute free and low-cost college textbooks. The initiative is led by Rice University. An introduction to economics book is the latest free etext released by OpenStax. The book can be downloaded as a PDF and or viewed online. The text provides an overview of classic topics in economics as well as current topics like the controversy among economists over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the recent government shutdown, and the appointment of the United States’ first female Federal Reserve chair, Janet Yellen.

Learn more about OpenStax in the video below.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lots of Interesting Ways to Use Technology In Your Classroom

Earlier today in my Feedly account I noticed that Tom Barrett had published updated versions of two of his very popular Interesting Ways presentations. It appears that Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes and Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the classroom have received a facelift. These are just two of the many crowd-sourced Interesting Ways presentations that Tom has published over the years.

Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom is embedded below. Open the editor to make a copy of these slides or get in touch with Tom to learn how to contribute to any of the Interesting Ways presentations.

By Request - Five Ways to Create and Use QR Codes In Your Classroom

Recently, through the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page I was asked for suggestions for tools for creating QR codes. Here are five suggestions that I often make in regards to creating and using QR codes in classrooms.

Russel Tarr developed the QR Treasure Hunt Generator. The QR Treasure Hunt Generator provides you with all of the things you need to get started creating your own QR codes and using them in your classroom. To use the QR Treasure Hunt Generator type out a series of questions and answers, generate the QR codes using the tool Russel Tarr provides, then print and display the codes around your classroom or school. Click here to view a sample QR Treasure Hunt. is Google's URL shortening tool. When you shorten a link with a QR code is created for it too. To find the QR code, click the "details" link after your shortened URL has been made. The details page also shows you how many times your link has been used. This is useful to me if I want to make sure that all of my students have used the link. If I see that the link or QR code has been used 17 times, but I have 25 students, I immediately seek out the students who haven't followed the link.

QR Droid's QR Code Generator allows you to create QR codes that link to websites, chunks of text, phone numbers, email addresses, contact information, calendar events, and location coordinates. To create your QR code simply complete the information fields that you want to link to then select the display size for your QR code.

QR Voice is a free tool that allows you to create QR codes that when scanned will play a short audio message. To create your message and QR code you can record a voice message by clicking the microphone icon on QR Voice or you can type in your message. Either way you're limited to 100 characters. QR Voice is offered in Spanish, English, Japanese, and Portuguese. Teachers could use QR Voice to create QR codes that they then print and attach to objects in their classrooms or schools. Then have students try to identify those objects in the language that they're trying to learn. To check their answers students can scan the QR code and hear the correct answer on their phones or tablets.

TagMyDoc is a tool that allows you to apply a QR code to Word documents and PDFs that are stored on your computer. Upload your document then TagMyDoc creates and applies a QR code to it. You can print the document with the QR code on it or simply project the QR code for your students to scan and get a copy of the document on their mobile devices.

Class Charts Helps You Create Seating Plans Based on Behavior Reports

Class Charts, a free service for creating online seating charts and behavior charts and reports, recently added a fantastic new feature. The latest feature uses an Artificial Intelligence Engine which uses student behavior profiles to automatically create seating charts which are optimized to minimize negative behaviors and disruptions. Learn more about this feature in the video below.

If the AI seating chart option isn't for you, you can still create charts manually. Your charts can be arranged in a "seating" format that shows seat placement or you can use a list view. You can use students' real pictures in your charts or you can use one of the avatar images in your charts. Now you can flip the charts to display the students' perspective on a whiteboard. Class Charts allows for sharing of attendance and behavior data with parents and students. You can share your narrative comments too.

Disclosure: Class Charts is a current advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Free Collaborative Video Creation with iPads

This is a guest post from Greg Kulowiec of, an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Publishing student video that is created with iPads can be a challenging process, especially with younger students. Even schools that are Google Apps typically decide to turn off YouTube uploads to the student accounts. However, with the use of a handful of free applications, students can create video content on iPad, share their creation with a teacher, and then have the teacher upload to their YouTube channel or a class YouTube channel.

For the creation process, students can use any video creation app that allows the final product to be exported to the camera roll. My two favorite options for this step are to have students use the external video camera or Tellagami. Once the video content is created, students need to upload their video to Google Drive. A teachers may choose to have students upload to a shared folder or to their own individual video folder. The image below shows the process of uploading video from the camera roll to Google Drive.

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Once the content is in Google Drive, a teacher can access the student created video through the Google Drive app on their iPad. Using the “Open in” feature that now appears in Google Drive, a teacher can export the video content from Google Drive directly to the YouTube Capture app. The image below shows the process of exporting video from Drive to YouTube Capture.

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The video will now be ready for upload to the teacher’s or class YouTube channel. This process allows a classroom teacher to collect all video submissions from students, but hand select which ones will be uploaded to a public platform.

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If a teacher wanted to then edit student submitted video clips together into one larger group project, the built in YouTube editor that is accessible from a laptop and web browser can be used. When logged into YouTube, go to: to begin the editing process. Any video content that is uploaded to a YouTube account can later be selected to be part of a larger video creation. The image below shows the process of combining small student submitted clips to one larger group video project.

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For more ways to use iPads for creation and collaboration, come join Greg during one of the EdTechTeacher Summer Workshops or at the EdTechTeacher Summit.