Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Athenir - A Search Engine With Visualizations of Related Terms

This afternoon I had a nice Skype conversation with a Stanford student named Nick Hershey who has built a nice search tool called Athenir. Nick has lots of neat things planned to add to Athenir this summer, but for now it is a search tool. When you enter a search term on Athenir you will get results from Yahoo along with a graphic of related search terms. In that regard it reminded me of Google's, now defunct, Wonder Wheel tool.

Applications for Education
Athenir could be useful to students who are struggling to see connections between search terms and or are need of assistance in changing their search terms.

Riddle - Create Image-based Polls and Quizzes

Riddle is a new service for creating polls, quizzes, and what they call commenticles. The polls and quizzes that you create in Riddle can be image-based or simply text-based. If you choose to use images to represent answer choices you can have text appear below the image. Commenticles are polls that are based upon an article that you share. The purpose of a commenticle is to survey an audience for feedback about an article that you have shared with them. All polls, quizzes, and commenticles created in Riddle can be shared by embedding them into a blog post as I've done below or by sharing the poll's link on Twitter (I did that earlier today), Facebook, or any other social network.


Applications for Education
Riddle's format of using images as response choices could make it a good option for giving informal quizzes on topics that require a lot of visuals. For example, a quiz on fractions might use pictures which represent various fractions. A quiz on art history might use Riddle to showcase works of art of answer choices.

Classkick - Distribute Assignments and Give Feedback Through Your iPad

Classkick is a free service for creating, distributing, and assessing students' work through iPads. Through Classkick you can create an online classroom through which you distribute assignments to students. Students join your class by enter the class code into the Classkick app on their iPads. Once they've joined your classroom you can start distributing assignments.

The assignments that you create in Classkick can be based on screenshots, imported images, drawings, text, or voice recordings. Classkick lets you see what your students are working on within the app. You can give students feedback on their assignments directly through the app. Students can ask you for help while working in the app too.


Applications for Education
For classrooms that have iPads for every student, Classkick could be a great tool not only for distributing assignments but also for providing individualized feedback to students while they are working. The option to record your voice to create questions could be a great aid to students who struggle with reading but would otherwise be able to answer a question or explain a process to you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Apricot - Create Writing Prompts for Students and Share Responses With Parents

Apricot is a neat new service that aims to connect teachers, students, and parents through writing. The basic idea behind the service is that teachers give writing prompts to their students. Students respond to the those prompts. Teachers can then share those responses directly to parents through Apricot.

To use Apricot you register as a teacher and create an online classroom. It is possible to create multiple classrooms within your account. Students join your classroom by entering the join code provided by Apricot for your class. Once students have joined your Apricot classroom you can begin distributing writing prompts to them. If parents have joined your classroom you can share students' works with them. Parents join your Apricot classroom with join code.

Applications for Education
Apricot could be a good service through which students write weekly reflections on their learning. Those reflections can quickly be shared with parents. This kind of sharing could lead to better conversations at home than this old pattern: Parent: "what did you do in school today?" Student: "nothing."

Now You Can Add Images to Plickers Questions

Plickers is one of my favorite new tools of the last year. It has been a hit with every group that I have demonstrated it to.

Plickers uses your iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. You can ask questions verbally or project them on a screen for students to see. When your ready to collect data, use the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards held up by your students. Plickers will show you a bar graph of responses. Responses can also be saved in your online Plickers account.

The latest update to Plickers allows teachers to add pictures to the questions that you create in your Plickers account. To add pictures you have to create your questions in your web browser instead of in the Plickers mobile app. Then to show the image-based questions to students you will have to project them from your laptop to a screen.

Applications for Education
Adding images to questions was the most requested feature in the Plickers user discussion forum. Many people wanted to be able to add pictures to questions in mathematics classes and art classes.

Here are three other ideas for using Plickers in your classroom:

1. Quickly taking the pulse of the class. Ask your students, "do you get this?" (or a similar question) and have them hold up their cards to indicate yes or no. You can do this with a saved class or a demo class in the app.

2. Hosting a review game. Create a series of questions in your saved Plickers classroom. To conduct the review have students hold up their cards to respond to each question. Every student gets to respond at the same time and you get to see how each student responded. This is an advantage over many review games in which only the first student to respond has his or her voice heard.

3. Take attendance. In a saved Plickers class each student has a card assigned to him or her. At the start of class just have them hold up their cards to check-in.