QR Codes: Future of Station Teaching?

Do you know what this is?

This is a QR code and they are popping up everywhere, whether you are looking up or purchasing an app or just having it take you to a web site. A QR code is a fast way for you to use Smartphone, iPod touch 4th Gen. or iPad2 to look up information without having to use a keyboard to type in the URL. For a QR code to work you will need such a device which has been listed (you have to have a camera for this to work) download barcode reader app and you are set.
I am stepping out on a limb by predicting this, but I believe this is the future of advertising, and education as well. Teachers, listen up you can take advantage of this now if you have the right equipment or if your system allows the use of Cell phones. You can implement this now, and all is needed is an app that can be downloaded that will read the QR code. It is totally your choice because there are many apps that are out there. This can be the future of station learning.
Here is a website that will create a QR code for a website of your choice. http://qrcode.kaywa.com/
Teachers in general can use this technology, but science classes could benefit the most out of it. Here are the steps for it. Set up your classroom with different stations that have the QR code on it. The students can use the hardware for looking up the information such as videos or general information. They can also answer questions on the certain topic, if you chose. I believe this will engage the students in two ways they will learn in a traditional station to station way and also, using technology the students are engaged in an act of learning that is familiar with them.
I know this would be difficult to accomplish if you have a cell phone policy at your school if you plan to use Smartphones. An alternative would be if you school has iPod touches that can be used for educational purposes. If you check your school’s library they could help you out if your school has them. WIFI is also something that could pose a problem if you do not have WIFI in the school, but most 90school systems have implemented this.


Google Cloud Connect

This has been a long time coming for me, but I am so glad Google has decided to release this. Google Cloud Connect is a great new way to sync your Microsoft Office documents to your Google Docs account. If you are a teacher or anyone that has a lot of documents and a need for them to be portable this is a great way for you to use both the benefits of Microsoft Office and Google Docs. Once you install the software on your computer you will need to sign in to your account, and in order for you to sync it to Google Docs is just hit the save button. This is going to make sending your documents to Google Docs so much easier than going to the upload portion of Google Docs and finding the files you want to upload you just hit the save button. Now how easy is that? I hope if you use it you will enjoy this as much as I do.


You can find Google Cloud Connect here http://tools.google.com/dlpage/cloudconnect

Google Voice

Have you tried Google Voice yet? Chances are you probably haven’t. Well I want you to know this is a great product to use for any teacher who wants to keep up with their students and vice versa. Signing up for a Google Voice number is easy. If you have a Google account you are half way there.  Just search the web for Google Voice and then sign up for a number. The numbers can be local numbers or any other number of your choice.
Once you have your Google Voice number you can set it up to ring any phone you want, the simple process of entering the code on your home phone or your cell phone. Once you do this you now have a number you can give out to your parents and students to call if they have any questions, without giving them your home or cell phone number.  
Some of the key features are call screening and the ability to set up a voicemail for different people that call you.  Another great feature Google Voice has is the ability to send out text messages. If you like to send out updates to your students via text messages you can do this. So if you want to remind your students of the test or that the end of the grading period is coming up, you can. Wondering about legal issues with sending text messages to your students? Google Voice lets you store all the incoming and outgoing text messages for that purpose. A benefit is you can send out mass texts to your student by just typing it on your keyboard without having to fiddle with the keypad on your cell phone.   
If you have an Android or an iPhone you can download the Google Voice app so you can keep up with all your text messages. You can also make calls with your Google Voice number from your smart phone with this app as well.   
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Google Voice is something to consider if you are an educator, or just anyone who wants to stay connected.


Facebook for school?

Searching through some twitter posts I saw a retweet from edmodo which was posted by my friends at teachers 2.0. So I was curious to see what edmodo is. So I found out by exploring Edmodo. Edmodo is a social networking site for teachers and students. Edmodo has a user interface that looks very familiar to the dark blue social networking site. This site is for teachers and students to have a safe environment to collaborate outside of the classroom.
A benefit with Edmodo for a teacher is you can communicate with your students about topics in your classroom outside of the traditional brick and mortar classroom. There is a posting option for teachers if they have a question you can ask it with multiple choice answers so your students who are on Edmodo can answer. Edmodo could be useful for teachers post their assignments online for the student to receive. You could use Edmodo for extra credit, if you had an article that you wanted the students to read and comment on it you could have them do so on Edmondo.
One of the biggest problems I can see with Edmodo is a “cool” factor. After polling my students I had a mixture of my students that said they would use it, and others that said they wouldn’t. The students that said they would use it would only be for missing assignments and probably wouldn’t use it on a regular basis. One student said:” Why would I use this when I have a Facebook.” 
I have a strong belief since my students are high school students; they would not be very adapt to using this product. As I said before the “cool” factor is not there for my students. The concept of this site is great, because our societies move to social networking. It does give teacher and students a more secure way of networking without the problems of inappropriate relationships between students and teachers. I think a little tweaking and some better marketing this could be a real nice site for the future of educational social networking. 


Rise of the eBook

EBooks you have heard of them, and you may have an eBook reader. The eBook is changing the way we consume books. In the old days if you wanted to read a new book you either had to go to the library or the local bookstore. Some of the hassles of going to the bookstore are getting in the car trying to find the book you want, unless you know what you are looking for and then waiting in line to check out. This is not so with eBooks if you have a reader you can almost instantly have the new release from your favorite author. There are many options available; some of the most popular eBook readers are the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. These eBook readers use an E Ink technology so readers can have more of a natural reading experience. You can also use and iPad as an eBook reader but its popularity as an eBook reader hasn’t caught on much.

Surprisingly enough as much publicity you see with eBook readers only about 5% of the people in the U.S. have one. But, that is on the upswing. I believe when people become more use to this idea of reading from an eBook reader sales will go up. There is a market for this product and it is at the beginning of its cycle.
So how does this translate into the classroom? Well, I don’t see any school systems going out and buying all of its student’s eBook readers and putting their textbooks on them right away, but I do see some private schools possibly doing this in the future. Colleges would also be ones of the early adaptors as well. Public schools will be the last ones if ever they do this type of transition simply because of cost. On the other hand I would be interested to see how school libraries could use this in the future. Some of the ideas I have thought of are like this. Libraries could possibly check out an eBook reader with a certain amount of books on it, freeing up space for more books or other resources they might need. Having an eBook reader in a library opens the door for multiple copies of books to be on one reader. Thus making it useful to have multiple copies on more than one reader to meet the demand of some books i.e. the twilight saga, or what the new hit book series would be.

The future of the eBook in the classroom will save paper, and we know that will make a lot of people happy as well. But I think it could be more cost effective in the long run because one student would carry one device and have multiple text books on it. Wasn’t it a few years ago parents were complaining about their children’s backs hurting because of the load they had to carry in books? This could be a simple solution for that problem.

I know it could possibly be about 10 to 15 years before this catches on with public schools but I believe that the private sector could benefit from this technology fairly fast.



I discovered a new website in the Google Chrome Web Store and it is called Cramberry. Cramberry is a great website for students who use flashcards to aid in studying. This site is immense; you can create your very own flashcards for anything you are studying. Cramberry uses and algorithm so the same cards are not in the same order maximizing retention rate. So how does it work? Create a free account for 30 flashcards a day or sign up for the pro account for unlimited creation of cards. The pro account is only $9 a year, which is an enormous value. I am grateful Cramberry kept the student in mind on the pricing of the pro account.

You don’t have to study just your flashcards you have access to a vast library of pre made cards at your disposal. Some of the topics available in the pre-made cards are; Spanish, SAT vocabulary, GRE, and math. If you create your own you have a decision to make them public.

I have had some of my students use Cramberry and they say it is a great tool for learning my content as well as the other classes they have. I highly recommend using Cramberry if you are a student that needs help memorizing a subject or any content. Not only can students use this anyone looking to memorize anything for a certain job or test can use Cramberry. Cramberry also has an iPad and iPhone/iPod touch app for mobile use as well. I do not have either of those products so I cannot review them at this time. Please check out Cramberry and if you have students share this site to them as well.

Chrome Web Store

We have a new operating system that is coming out and it is Google Chrome OS. Chrome OS is designed to be an open source operating system that is basically a web browser. In the video that Google has for the promotion of Chrome OS it says all we want is to get on the internet, and in today’s standards this is what most of us want. Let’s face it most of our lives revolve around a social networking site. Well, you are probably wondering what I an education blogger am talking about Chrome OS for.
Well I am glad you asked it just so happens that Google Chrome OS has an app store called the Chrome web store, and not only do Chrome OS users have access to this. If you download the Google Chrome Web Browser you are able to access this store. This brings me to my point, there is an education section of apps that are available to use in Chrome. Now the Chrome web store is very young and there are not many apps out yet for this platform, I believe this could be a great tool for educators in the future.
Some of the apps that are available such as Hangman which is a basic hangman game with a nice user interface. Also math teachers can purchase the educational game called math board. This is a game that will quiz the students on basic math skills you can try the free version which is addition only if you choose to try before you buy. Frabroom is a cool app which is basically a website that has neat educational videos on it. One of my favorites is Meegenius; this cool web app is like the website but is in a full screen mode. This will has books that can be selected to be read aloud, to the students with the words highlighted and the pictures of the books shown. Another favorite of mine for students in higher grades there is an app called Cramberry; it helps you memorize things by using virtual flashcards. You can create your own flashcards and share them with other students in the world. There is also an iPhone and iPad app for it too.
The Chrome web store is very young, there are only 325 education apps that are available and some of them aren’t what I consider really educational but with time I hope this application can become very helpful to teachers and classrooms with limited budgets. This could help some teachers stay on top of the tech game without having access to and iPad or the Apple app store. I hope Google continues to push this idea and doesn’t decide to scrap it.