Archive for the ‘tech gadgets’ Category

More Cool Tools and the ASCUE Conference

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I am freshly back from the Association of Supporting Computer Users in Education (ASCUE) conference. It was really great and I got lots of ideas that I want to share with you.

North Myrtle Beach view from Ocean Creek

One idea I liked was using Google Sites for student e-portfolios. You can create custom templates for a program, individual, or course that the students can easily access and utilize. They can upload work and customize their portfolio. Their work is then available for job interviews and keeping a running history of their college careers. This would work in high school as well.

Here is a list of gadgets that I highly recommend checking out that were talked about at the conference:

  • Swivyl camera mount: it works with iphone, ipod touch and flip type cameras. Follows the speaker. Very cool. (
  • Finch Robot: for the physicists and computer programmers, this is a great robot to teach programming. Many programming languages can be used so this spans many grade levels. (
  • One talk recommended the Aver HVC310 HD for video conferencing on a budget. I have not checked it out so can’t say but they were pleased with it.

As for other ideas my friend Tom Marcais described his school’s process of developing video tutorials for faculty and staff. The process heavily involves students which I think is great. They write the script and produce the screen captures using Screencast-o-matic. Once they are proficient, they can create music loops for the background as well. Check out the results! (

As for this year’s cool tools here is my link to this year’s finds:

The highlights:

  • TedEd: a collection of educational cartoons that also included lesson plans and quizzes that you can use or you can “flip” a video and create your own lesson for others to take advantage of. (
  • Screenleap: instant screensharing great for support and impromptu tutoring or meetings. (
  • If This, Then That: Really cool site that lets you really maximize your productivity by connecting your various accounts. For example if you favorite a Twitter post then it sends it to your e-mail (or Evernote). Or if a post goes to a favorite RSS feed then it puts it in a certain DropBox folder. (
  • Remind 101: This site allows you to send texts to anyone who has signed up for your “class”. You don’t see their phone numbers and they don’t see yours. They can sign up using an e-mail address too. Great for sending students reminders and important notices. You can even schedule your texts in advance! (

If you find a couple of these things helpful, you need to come to next year’s ASCUE conference in North Myrtle Beach in June. ( There were many more ideas just like these. Come join the fun!


A Day in the Life of My Ipad

January 10, 2012 3 comments

I have been debating what to put in my first post of the year. I have started 2 other posts but I have settled on this one. I thought I would take you through a day in the life of my iPad. I myself am surprised at how much I use it. I know many of my colleagues have an iPad but I never see them with it. I just don’t get it. I can’t live without mine. The iPad combined with a Kensington blue tooth keyboard is all I need.  I will warn you that I might have taken some writer’s license and combined a couple of days. But you will get the idea. While I use the iPad, I have an android phone and Windows 7 computers. I manage to have them all get along quit nicely.

Ipad in with bluetooth keyboard

7:00 am
Time to get to up. While I eat my cereal and watch the Today show, I  do a quick run through my e-mail on my iPad  to primarily delete spam. I also answer any pressing student or faculty issues.  I  take a quick turn on Words with Friends as well.

8:30 am
On the way to work I use AudioMemos to record my thoughts on an upcoming meeting. The app only records when I am talking and I can set it to ignore ambient noise. Later I can listen to my ideas and type them up in an outline.

10:10 am
Time for my class. I use TeacherPal to take attendance in my class. I can just click on their pictures and record if they are present, absent or late. I then bring up my text book  in CourseSmart so I have it to refer to for problems. I use the classroom computer for the Eno Board to record classroom notes.

11:15 am
Just got a pdf that I am supposed to print out, fill in, sign, and snail mail back. (seriously?)  I print it out, fill it in and use DocScan HD on my iPad to take a picture of it which is essentially scanning it, and I e-mail it back to the sender. I do not leave my chair.

12:30 pm
Off to a meeting. I use Drop Box to pull up the agenda that was sent to me earlier. I use Evernote to take meeting notes. When I am done, a couple clicks and I e-mail the notes to the entire group. I also look at some e-mail during the meeting and answer a couple of people with technical issues. I  look up something on the Internet that the group had a question about.

2:00 pm
At another meeting. This time I use my iPad to audio record the entire meeting. After the meeting, I send the recording  off to another person to post on the group’s website.

3:30 pm
A student sent me a question about a physics problem they were having trouble with. I use Explain Everything to record my voice and write out some hints for the solution. I can send that back to the student with a couple clicks. It appears to them as a short movie.

4:30 pm
Off to the YMCA for my workout. I use the web based workout input web site to put in my workout. During the cardio portion of my workout, I watch full episodes of DIY shows from their app.

6:00 pm
Home  and planning a tile job for the kitchen. I take some measurements but I don’t want to put them on some scrap piece of paper that I might lose. So I use Skitch on the iPad and write out my calculations. I then save that to Evernote. Now it is available on my Ipad, and phone when I go to the tile store.

7:30 pm
Time to catch up on the information of the day. I start with Flipbook on the iPad. I can quickly look over my Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader and other feeds I like to follow. It is displayed in a nice magazine type format. Then I go to Zite. Zite allows me to input topics and areas of interest and chooses articles for me to read in a newspaper like format. If I like an article, it learns what I like and gives me more of the same. In both of these apps, I can easily e-mail or retweet any of the articles I want  to my colleagues and friends.

10:00 pm
Off to bed…after another turn on Words with Friends. Better charge up  the iPad for another busy day tomorrow!

What great apps and ways do you use your Ipad? Leave suggestions in the comments!

Summer is over…more tech for the classroom

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

What a summer! Where did it go? Time for new students, a new year and new technology. One thing I did this summer was try out some of the new tablets that are out there. I am certainly not Consumer Reports but I can tell you my experiences. I tried two different Android tablets. The first was the Acer Iconia A500. Now I have an Android phone so I am fond of the operating system. The new Honeycomb was nice but took a little getting used to as all new things do. Lots of nice applications that are available which are usually free. Overall I liked this tablet but it did lock up every other day or so for two weeks. That was not pleasant to deal with. The other Android tablet I tried was the Asus Transformer. I liked the way this tables was set up right out of the box. It did not crash or lock up once when I had it. You can get a physical keyboard and attach this tablet which is nice but I did not try that feature. The biggest drawback with this device was the speakers, microphone and camera. I used both tablets to do Google Video chat with my brother and this one was unacceptable. My brother could not hear me well and I could barely hear him. It was frustrating.

Now I am working with an Ipad 1. I was holding out going with the Apple but I must say that it is pretty handy. It has not crashed at all. I have found several apps that are useful for teaching. I have found an app to keep attendance, TeacherPal, and I can access my text books with ease. I did not find that very easy with the Android version. E-mail and calendaring has been effortless. My favorite productivity apps, DropBox and Evernote work well on the Ipad. Now I know that the Android version supports these applications as well but it does not seem to work as well.  Granted I cannot do a Google video chat with my brother on the Ipad 1 but if this keeps going well I will upgrade to the Ipad 2 (or 3?) at some point.

Here is a good blog post on applications that fit into Bloom’s Taxonomy for the Ipad. I like how it is laid out. This is assuming some of the students have Ipads though. Another useful site for Ipad in education has a lot of good information. Every day I seem to find more applications that are useful. Notarize is a nice app for taking handwritten notes and writing on top of PDFs. It integrates with lots of other applications such as DropBox. If only it did flash…

So let me know how you use your tablet in the classroom for for productivity. Leave a comment!

What is a QR code and why do I care?

April 14, 2011 1 comment

I just got back from the Ohio Learning Network’s spring Colloquium. I saw some old friends and colleagues and made some new ones. It was only a day and a half but it got my creative juices flowing. Ohio has some folks doing some great work with technology in education. The keynote was also interesting. It was Silke Fleischer from Ativ software. She started the company which makes conference apps for all the smart phone platforms. She did a great talk about the future being now and it is so true. You will be hearing about some of the ideas I got from this conference over the next few posts.

qr code for video

QR Codes

I had heard of them and seen them on some ads etc. but had not thought of them as useful in education. Well why not! Let me back up a bit and explain a QR code. If you have a smart phone which more and more of us do,( According to Gartner, smart phone sales have grown 96% from 3rd quarter 2009 to 3rd quarter 2010) you can download an app that will scan QR codes such as the one above. This can then take you to a link, text, contact information, e-mail address, global position, calendar event, etc. If you have a smart phone, scan the code above and see what happens. The apps I have used are free.

So I started thinking of some possible uses. I will list some here but I want to hear from some of you as well. My first simple thought is to put them outside our office doors  with our contact information, office hours etc. If a student needs us and we are not there, scan the code and get our information into their phone for use later. Then I thought about putting an informational video on YouTube that might have the information they need about us. Or maybe your roll is something that includes frequently ask questions. Your code might take them to an FAQ web page to get started. Or maybe there is a form that is hanging outside your door. Quit killing trees and put a pdf online and a code that links to it. The financial aid window is closed. Why not hang up a code that links to their web page. So you see the sky is the limit here! I also thought about putting them in my lms next to a presentation link. If they can scan it in their phone, they can watch the presentation with fewer clicks on their phone.

How do I make one for myself?

So far my favorite is  It does not just apply to just android, you can use it to universally create a QR code. It is nice because it has lots of options for what type of information you want to link to. It also allows for colors other than black. This process takes no time at all. There are other computer apps out there for creating the codes so list them in the comments if you have a favorite.

Share your ideas for using QR codes!

Categories: tech gadgets Tags: ,

A few of my favorite things….(part 2)

October 4, 2010 6 comments

Gadgets, gadgets and more gadgets. Sometimes I am accused of having too many. (can there be too many?!) But again sometimes the proper gadget (tool) can enhance teaching and learning. So I will continue to outline some of my favorites.

Entourage Edge
My latest gadget has helped me go “green”. It is the Entourage Edge. It is a two screen tablet. On one side is an Android touch device and on the other an e-reader. It was designed with the student in mind. Although I have not used it in the classroom, I take it to every meeting and that is all I take. No paper, note pad, or pen needed. I can put the pdfs on it that always accompany a good meeting. These pdfs can be virtually marked and highlighted on the Edge. And I can take notes on the virtual note pad. Those notes can be converted to pdf and sent out after the meeting if I wish (in hand written form which I actually like). All my committee and project notes are in one place along with the agendas, minutes, etc.

You can also purchase books and textbooks from the store as well as download apps (app list is growing all the time). This device improves nearly monthly and I have high hopes for it. I can’t see why every student and faculty member would not want one of these. I have to say that I could have gotten an Ipad instead but this just matched the way I work much better.

Document Camera
Another device that I use in the classroom is this document camera by Avermedia. This device is small and portable. I can put it away when not in use and easily set it up when I need it. I love to have students work on problems or worksheets in class then take their work and show it to the rest of the class. I can also take a still of what is under the camera and save it. I can even make videos with sound with this device. The price is very reasonable too. It marks the end of the overhead projector as far as I am concerned.

document camera


I find it essential to have a couple of different cameras for the classroom. These days there are a large array of affordable models. I have a still camera to take pictures of equipment or classroom activities (as in this post). It is the Canon Powershot  Elph which is the 2nd Powershot I have had and I like them very much. I have two movie cameras. I started with the original Flip mino camera which is so handy to take a quick video. This camera was used for this video.

I then discovered the Kodak Zi 8 that is an HD video camera and has an external mic port. That is really nice for doing demos and YouTube videos. In this video I do a demo of some lab equipment and it is in HD. If you teach a lab course or similar course, you might consider making a video the students view prior to lab day. It can include the set up and view of equipment as well as safety warnings. It can save a lot of time come lab day. You could have a quick quiz (use clickers!) before the lab starts to be sure they watched the video.

This semester I am hoping to turn some students loose with Flip video cameras and see what they can do. I am thinking of having them teach a short lesson for the other students. I will let you know how that turns out! We have Flips on reserve in our library but many students have video cameras on their phones.

camera pic

Now you might be asking yourself…self…how did she take this picture of all her cameras? Well, I did it with my Motorola Droid smart phone which is another of my very favorite things. I often use it now to take a quick picture or video as it is such a good camera. I will be doing a blog post on the Droid at some point but if you are in the market for a smart phone that does it all…choose an Android phone and I love the Droid. The number of free apps you can get is astonishing. The very least thing it does is make phone calls.

So leave a comment about some of your favorite gadgets. I would love to see what other folks are using for teaching and learning! More to come!

Some of my favorite things…(part 1)

September 22, 2010 3 comments

I want to share with you some of my favorite tech tools and how I use them. I will start with hardware first. I have done various podcasting and voiceovers for presentations in many applications. I am always on the lookout for that great mic (inexpensive). So currently one of my three favorites is the Logitech USB headset if a headset is in order. The sound is very good and you don’t get a lot of ambient room sounds. The second is the Crown Sound Grabber II. This was purchased for me by a colleague (thanks Andrea!) and it is fantastic for group recording such as a group discussion podcast or classroom discussion.  Finally, my newest addition is the Samson Go Mic. I got this from a suggestion by @tomkuhlmann from Articulate. This little sucker can really record nice sound. It is very portable, USB, and does a great job propped on my laptop. It is good for music and recording when you don’t want a headset. They all have their uses. They are also more or less around $50.

Another classroom gadget that I now cannot live without is my Eno Board by Polyvision. It is an interactive white board. I use the electronic whiteboard every day. No more chalk dust and messy pens. I can save a screen or print it. I often upload problems I have worked with students so they can review them later. In the demo below you can see how it works in conjunction with Screenr which is my favorite screen casting software from Articulate. You will be getting a lot more posts about them.

Screenr with the Eno Board Demo

So there are just a few of my favorite things! More to come soon!