A really cool mobile learning tool

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Last Night I stumbled across a fantastic little mobile tool called Qipit. Now I’ve talked before about tools that have instantly got me thinking about the possibilities they present for classroom use, but this one takes the cake. So what does it let you do? Well say for instance you only have a hard copy of a particular document or you have just drawn a fantastic mind map on the white board in one of your classes, or maybe  one of your students has just handwritten an excellent story that you want to share……  Well simply take out your mobile phone and take a picture using its digital camera, send a copy to [email protected] and your picture will be converted into a crisp, clean, electronic PDF file that you can fax, email and store right from your mobile phone.

So why do I find this exciting? Well think of the possibilities within a classroom, you could digitally record copies of the white board before rubbing it off, take a snapshot of a students work and store it within a digital portfolio, covert old resources taking up valuable space into digital archives for quick and easy reference. Best of all it can be all done completely from your mobile phone. Imagine creating an on the fly worksheet while taking your class on an excursion to the zoo. Better still the kids could use their own phones to create digital records of all text they discovered while on the trip. It would be like having a scanner in your pocket except it would be truly mobile and highly flexible and  least I forget, super cool.

What a truly unique and exciting tool, how else do you think you could use it?

Cheating on Exams with SMS?

Pic by nathan

 

On Monday the students in my VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies class completed their end of semester exam. Now I’m opposed to the idea of high stakes testing in an exam format,  but it is however how they will be assessed in the final year so they need as much practice as they can get. Anyway throughout the year I’ve been using SMS technology to send assignments, homework reminders and general information to my students concerning our class from my laptop. Overall it has been a highly effective way of communicating and certainly engaged them during different times of the year.

With the success of the SMS tool in the class I decided to use it within the exam preperation. Here’s how I did it.

1. Using smsexpress I preset text messages to be delivered to students automatically over the course of the week leading up to the exam.

2. Each day students received a text message with a question from the exam (Before this process I asked each individually when they would like to receive their questions, some chose early morning, others chose mid afternoon etc)

So why is this method valuable? Well I feel it allowed students time to revise and research the necessary information from their notes throughout the semester and with myself. It encouraged them to talk with and share their knowledge and understanding with others within the class, it also prompted further investigation of the concepts they didn’t understand. It also allowed important time for reflection and evaluation of their own responses to questions and how they could be improved before completing them within the exam.

So as I sit and mark the exam, it is quite clear that by using this particular approach that the student’s have significantly improved their depth of understanding. The most enjoyable thing to note is that their learning has been shared as its clear they have discussed what they feel the most appropriate answers to the questions should be.  Overall a very powerful learning tool that I will be sure to utilise again.

So what do you think? Am I cheating them? Or simply teaching them the more valuable skills of networking and reflection within their learning?

Creating a $50 Interactive Whiteboard

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If you’ve been following me on Twitter this week you would have heard my ravings about creating an Interactive Whiteboard using a Nintendo Wii remote. As you may also be aware our school recently purchased a Nintendo Wii, which gave me the perfect opportunityto test out this exciting concept.  To make this happen you will also need a projector and a Bluetooth enabled computer or laptop. To put it simply this is how you go about setting it up;

1. Connect your Nintendo Wii REMOTE to your computer using bluetooth (You don’t need the entire system, just the remote). (How do you do this?)

2. Connect your computer to a projector as you normally would.

3. Position the Nintedo Wii so that it can see the surface you are projecting onto (the Wii remote can see at an angle of 45 deg. The Wii remote will pick up the infra red pen even if its off to the side)

4. Run Johnny Lees free calibration software which can be download from here

5. Using an Infrared pen, which can be made or purchased for around $5

6. Calibrate the board by touching the dots on screen with your infra red pen

7. You now have an interactive whiteboard ready for use

Now the most exciting thing is that the Nintendo wii remote is multiple touch, so unlike your commercial interactive whiteboards that can only detect one pen, the wii can detect up to 4 pens at the same time. The wiimote can also be projected onto any surface so no longer are you bound to the front of the room as per the traditional expensive alternatives. Why not project your image from a tripod onto a white table top and you can then have a fully interactive table for up to 4 students. Why not project it onto someones white t-shirt and teach an anatomy lesson highlighting and colouring in the different body components. The possibilities are almost endless.

You can also download other 3rd party software such as annotateprothat will give you the same features as a commercial whiteboard. Now im sure with the amount of publicity this alternative is receiving it wont be long until an entire software package exists for the wiiremote. So how can you use it within your classroom? Well a very helpful youtube video will give you some ideas on how to integrate this cost saving tool into your classroom to improve student learning

What a perfect addition to our school this has been, not only is it a great educational tool but the cost saving alternative is excellent for schools with tight budgets. You can grab a few more resources and tutorials at my jog the web Nintendo in school’s track.