Friday, April 29, 2011

Have You Looked at Blogger Lately?

Blogger continues to add enhancements. Current Blogger user will probably get a few ideas from this video.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tryphone Makes Selecting a Cell Phone Easier

The number of cell phone selections can be overwhelming. A site called TryPhone is designed to make the process easier. You will be able to choose from a selection of featured phones. You then see an interactive video demo of your selection. You may select from a number of tasks and have the the site walk you through the steps. The site also allows you to select any two phones and see a comparison of features.

Going to this site is certainly no substitute for holding the phone in your hands. It may, however, be a good prerequisite to a trip to the retailer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

How Can I Use QR Codes?

QR Code
In the last three posts, you learned what QR codes are, where to download a reader, and how to create them. Today, we will learn some practical uses for this tool.

Would you like for visitors to view videos of current school events? Post a QR code on the wall of the main office and consider it done. Visitors scan the QR code and view the video while they wait for their appointment.

Would you like the entire community to view those “current events”? Post that same QR on bulletin boards and windows throughout the community.

Ah, but the “current information” changes, right? No need to pull down those flyers and put up new ones. As long as the new information replaces the old and uses the same URL, the QR code can remain the same.

The spring play is coming up and you would love to include a wealth of information in the printed program. Printing costs, however, are high. The solution? Keep the program simple, but include a few QR codes. While the audience waits for the play to begin, they enjoy a slide show of photos, read bios for each actors, digest letters from the superintendent and principal, and even view a video of “out-takes” from rehearsal, all from a smartphone or tablet.

In our profession dealings, we exchange business cards with other people. Later, we manually enter their contact information in our electronic address books. Want to shorten that process? Create a QR code for your own information. Save it as a JPEG and transfer it to your smartphone’s photo collection. Now, you can give someone your “electronic business card” by letting them scan the QR code. Your information is safe and sound in their contacts without anything having to manually enter anything.

One of this blog’s readers mentioned putting a QR code with his contact information on the back of the school ID he already wears.

What about putting a QR code of your school’s contact information on promotional material? As people scan the QR code, your institution’s information becomes a part of their contacts.

Flash cards have been a popular study tool for generations. QR codes add a new dimension. Instead of hiding the answer by putting it on the reverse side of each card, you can create a single sheet with all of the questions. Next to each question is a QR code containing the text for the correct answer. Students check themselves by scanning the code and viewing the answer on the smartphone’s screen.

Do you have items you want students to identify on sight? Budding geologists should be able to identify various rocks. In anatomy class, students should be able to identify the bones on a skeleton. Print the QR codes for the names of the rocks or bones and attach them. Students check their knowledge by scanning the QR codes to reveal the correct answer on the screen of the smartphone.

You have a flat tire. You open the trunk and are a little unsure as to the steps for changing the tire. But right there on the inside of the trunk is a QR code. You scan the code, and on your smart phone see a video for how to change the tire.

Enjoy this short video on QR codes:

Whether it’s turning a sheet of paper into a multimedia presentation, opening a door to a larger document, unlocking hidden text, or sharing contact information, QR codes offer a new dimension to how we can communicate information.

What ideas come to mind for you that we have not listed?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Create Your Own QR Codes

QR CodeIn the last two posts, we learned what "Quick Reference" codes are all about and where you can get a reader. In this post, you will learn how to create your own. Several sites are available for you to create QR codes in seconds.


This very simple site asks you to enter the URL and click "generate." To save and use the code, click directly on the QR code to view the it in a separate window. Right-click and save the image to your computer. Another option is to copy the html code for later use on a website or blog.

Notice that Kaywa also allows a phone option. Enter a telephone number. When someone scans the resulting code, it will call the phone number. If the phone number has an exchange, my own experiments indicate you follow the phone number with an "x" and the extension. The smartphone calls the number, pauses, and enters the extension.


This generator operates much like Kaywa. This site also allows you to compose a QR code that will create a new e-mail message on the smartphone with an address, subject, and pre-formatted text body. You will also see a simple "message" option. Rather than taking the viewer to another site, you see a message immediately on the screen.

Online QR Lab

This generator does all of the things we have discussed to this point, but also allows you to create a contact. Add your own contact information, and when others scan the QR code, you will be added to their smartphone contacts.

Kerem Erkan

Browse the drop-down list of QR code types you can create. Your result appears as a very large code on the screen. Right-click and save to your computer

If you already use as your link shortener, realize there is a built in QR code generator. After creating a shortened URL, refresh and click the "Info page" beside the link. There you will see your QR code.

BlackBerry Messenger

If your BlackBerry does not already have Messenger installed, clicking the above link will allow you to download it. When you open Messenger on your BlackBerry, press the menu key and select "Scan a Group Bar Code." This code reader will take you to a URL or make a phone call. I have found it does not support some of the other options, such as e-mail or messages.

As you see, creating QR codes is easy. Now the question becomes, "Why would you want create them?" Perhaps you are already thinking of some uses. The next post, the last in this series, will provide some practical uses for QR codes.

Have you benefited from this series on QR codes? If so, send me an e-mail. In fact, you can scan the code you find in this post. It will create an e-mail with my address completed, a subject, and a pre-formatted body. Depending on the reader, the subject and text of the e-mail in the address line, but don't worry. The e-mail will send successfully.

Have you been able to scan QR codes? Have you created some of your own? Tell me about your experience.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Download Your Own QR Code Reader

QR CodeIn the last post, we introduced the concept of "Quick Response" codes, better known as "QR" codes.To use a QR code reader, you will need a smartphone equipped with a camera. The next step is to download a reader. The one I use on my BlackBerry is called "QR Code Scanner Pro." You can download it for free here.

Here is a list of other sources for downloading QR code readers:

2d Code
Best QR Code Readers
5 QR Code Readers for iPhone
QR Code Readers for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7

In addition, if you have a BlackBerry with BlackBerry Messenger, you already have a built-in QR code reader. Open the BlackBerry Messenger, press the Menu key, and choose "Scan a Group Barcode."

How do you use the QR code reader? When you see a QR code, open the reader on your smartphone. The smartphone will use your camera to let you see the code. Position the smartphone so that you can comfortable see all of the image.

With both QR Code Scanner Pro and the reader built into BlackBerry Messenger, simply hold the smartphone still. In a couple of seconds the reader confirms that it has successfully scanned the code and gives you a prompt as to whether or not you wish to go ahead with the results.Other software may require you to press a key to start the scan. Once you have confirmed the selection, your browser opens and you are taken to the link.

That's all there is to it! You may notice that scanning a QR code on your smartphone is the on-the-go equivalent of clicking a link when we are on our computers. QR codes allow those "links" to show up anywhere in our environment.

At this point, you have probably already seen some practical uses for QR codes and may have some others in mind. In the next post, you will lean how to create QR codes. In the post following that, we will look at some ways you could use this tool.

Have you been able to download and begin using a QR code reader? I would like to hear your thoughts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What are QR Codes All About?

QR CodeI remember when funny little black and white rectangles started appearing on products in the grocery store. Today, we are all accustomed to those bar codes. We know that the pattern of black lines contains information and that a special scanner is needed to read that information.

Now, we are beginning to see a different pattern. This one is square, with the area being filled with a small squares of black and white.Welcome to QR codes. "QR" stands for "Quick Response."

What does a QR code do?
When you scan a QR code with a special reader, the most common result is that it takes you directly to a website. That website may then give additional information or show you a video. However, the QR code can be used to make a phone call or create an pre-formatted email.

The thing that is making QR codes grow in popularity is the ability to download a reader to your smartphone. Then, when you see a QR code in a magazine you are reading, on a flyer taped to a store window, or on a piece of promotional material, you can scan the code and see the additional information.

In the next three posts, you will learn how to do each of the following:

  1. Download a QR code reader to your smartphone.
  2. Create your own QR codes.
  3. Implement QR codes in a practical way.

What are your thought so far on the topic of QR codes?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Google Language Tools

In the technology workshops I conduct, Google's language translation capability is a topic I enjoy. We all use Google, yet many people have not noticed the little "language tools" link. That link allows us to type text in one language and have it translated to another. The same area allows us to enter a URL and view the site in another language. I have used that capability for years to allow people to translate any of the blogs I have authored into another language just by clicking a link.

How accurate is the translation? Those who speak foreign languages fluently tell me that grammatical and syntax errors are common. The meaning, however, is conveyed well.   

Just how does Google handle the process of language translation? This video provides an interesting explanation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Can I Do With a Document Camera?

What can you do with a document camera? Basically, you can take any object and project it for an audience to see.

LCD projectors attached to computers have given us the ability to take anything that can be brought to a computer screen and project it for a large group to see. In the same way, a document camera attached to a projector allows someone to put a piece of paper or a three-dimensional object under the device and see the imagine on a large screen.

Need some specifics for how a document camera can be used?
Here are some ideas.

Monday, April 11, 2011

NAESP 2011

Thanks to those who came to "Data That Matters." As a reminder, you can download the tool from Click the "Free Resources" link, and look for "Data That Matters."

This session was recorded, so whether you attended the session and want a refresher or whether you were unable t attend, you will be able to download the presentation. My understanding is that you will be able to download the presentation from this site.I am not sure when the presentation will become available, so check back.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Networked Student

"The Networked Student" was inspired by CCK08, a Connectivism course offered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes during fall 2008. It depicts an actual project completed by Wendy Drexler's high school students. The Networked Student concept map was inspired by Alec Couros' Networked Teacher. Teachers may use it to help their colleagues, parents, and students understand networked learning in the 21st century.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education Paradigms

I am looking forward to hearing Sir Ken Robinson speak at NAESP. Enjoy the following talk accompanied by the "quick draw" artwork.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Instant Grader--Final Project for Online Course

This post is primarily for the benefit of those who, along with me, took an online course entitled "Using Google to Become a 21st Century Administrator." The "final project" of the class involves implementation of what was learned in the course and a presentation of that learning. This video outlines the problem addressed and the solution I created using Google Docs.

Now that you have watched the video, how about taking the Instant Grader for a test drive?

Hitting "Enter" will submit the test for grading. Also, scrolling to the bottom of the screen and clicking "Submit" ends the test.

Use the two tabs at the bottom of the screen you see to examine both the raw data and the graded test.

So, what do you think?

Monday, April 04, 2011

21st Century Education

This video was produced by the New Brunswick (Canada) Department of Education. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion among educators and other public education stakeholders within the province of New Brunswick. The video demonstrates the rapid change in our society due to technology and the changes predicted for the future. The video explores the world of students today and the world that students will step into following graduation.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Next is Now

"Next is Now" depicts the human connections empowered by rapid changes in communications technology both in Canada and around the world. "Next is Now" was produced by Rogers with support from 76design and Thornley Fallis.