Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Easy Infographics and Charts

Infographics seem to be the hottest way to communicate information on the web nowadays. Using an infographic can be a great way to present information in a format that is more appealing and memorable than just using text-based documents. Students and teachers can use infographics as discussion starters or tools to evaluate complex information and relationships. The web magazine and news site Good.is uses infographics to present information and enhance articles on their web site. Good.is even has a section that is dedicated to presenting the infographics that are used on their web site.

What if you want to create your own infographics or charts to present information to students? Or even better, what if you want students to create infographics or charts to synthesize information and demonstrate their evaluation of data and content? In the past, students and teachers have been limited to using markers and paper, or a spreadsheet application, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Docs Spreadsheet, to create posters or charts to display information visually. The activity of using these traditional tools often takes extra class time and can become a barrier to students' learning, because the focus of learning shifts from the evaluation of information to the activity of creating the chart or poster itself. Infogr.am is aiming to change this.

Infogr.am is a new web site that allows users to easily create charts and will soon expand to include creating visually appealing infographics. Using Infogr.am to create charts requires three things, a device connected to the Internet, a Facebook or Twitter account for log in access, and data. The data-entry interface is easy to use and the generation of charts is automatic.  Infogr.am charts can be embedded into web sites, making it easy for students and teachers to share charts and data visualizations.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Power of QR

QR codes are everywhere.  Some people know what they are, some people have no clue.  Basically a QR code is a bar code that can store much more information than a bar code.  You can place anything with a URL behind it, text, phone numbers, etc...

In order to make QR codes work, you will need a couple things.  First, you need a QR code reader on your tablet or smartphone.  To find one, go to your app store and search for QR reader or scanner.  Find one that is free and try it out.  If you don't like it, delete it and try another one.  Second, you will need a QR code generator.  These can be found online and the one I use is Kaywa and can be found here.  Third, you will need something to put behind the QR code, such as a link or text.  Put your information in, and have fun!

Uses in the classroom:
Instead of writing links on the board, place a QR code around the room and have students scan.

Put your contact information behind the code and place it outside your door for people to scan.

Have your students create videos about their artwork, post the videos to YouTube and put the link behind the QR code and post next to the artwork.

Google QR codes in the classroom and you will get TONS of ideas of how to use these in your classroom.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Publishing with iBooks Author

iBooks Author from O'Reilly

In their eBook from O'Reilly, Publishing with iBooks Author, Nellie McKesson and Adam Witwer quickly establish why they believe iBooks Author is worth considering. According to McKesson and Witwer, iBooks Author is now the best digital publishing tool available. 
"If you’re looking to create books that are digital first, use dynamic page designs, and are truly interactive, there is no better tool for the job than iBooks Author." - McKesson & Witwer
A quick preview of Publishing with iBooks Author, reveals that this eBook offers readers insights and advice about the basic components of book publishing and layout in addition to a thorough tutorial for using iBooks Author.

With iBooks, Apple is trying to change the textbook industry and equip students and teachers with more effective and relevant tools to access and share information. The iBooks Author app gives teachers and students the tools to produce dynamic books, and as a guide, Publishing with iBooks Author will help them produce quality publications.

Publishing with iBooks Author is currently a free download from O'Reilly and is available in ePub, Mobi, and PDF formats.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Twitter Take II

If you set up your Twitter account a couple days ago, you are probably wondering what all the #'s and @'s are all about.  You are not alone as a new user wondering what Twitter is all about.  When I first started using Twitter, I was confused as to what everything meant.  Here is a short synopsis of what it all means.  It's pretty simple.

# is used to classify Tweets.  For example, if I am tweeting something about educational technology, I would use the #edtech hashtag to classify that tweet, or if I am tweeting while at a conference such as TIES I would use the #ties11.  The # helps users follow those same tweets.  There are also times during the week that there are chat sessions on Twitter and you can follow along and participate by following the certain hashtag (#edchat,  #spedchat).

@ is used when you mention another user in your Tweet.  If you were going to mention me in your tweet it would look like this.  Hi @braymo22, hope you are having a good day.  This way, I will get a notification saying you had mentioned me.  It's a way to make sure certain users see your tweets as well.

There are a ton of resources on the web that can help you understand Twitter.  I personally like the this resource.  Here is a list of educational hashtags to follow.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I stumbled across this awesome website the other day while I was preparing to meet with a group of social studies teachers.  Bubbabrain is a quiz game website.  It works really well on an interactive whiteboard.  Bubbabrain looks as if there is much more to it than meets the eye.  Teachers can set up an account, get a number, and students can use that number to compete within their own classes.  There is mostly social studies quizzes, but looks like there could be room to grow.  Try bubbabrain today in your classroom on your interactive whiteboard and you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Twitter as Professional Development

Twitter as Professional Development

Here we go again!  John and I are going to give this blog thing a try again.  Hopefully with the two of us we can keep things updated!  Wish us luck as we once again go on an Ed Tech Journey.

I tried Twitter three years ago and never saw the benefit of it.  I followed a few people, mostly sports stars and celebrities, tweeted what I had done that day, and then...nothing!  I didn't understand Twitter, nor did I see the benefit of it, until....I followed the correct people.  I found the "gurus", followed them, and then followed people they were following.  It was as if a light bulb went off above my head.  Learn from my mistake/blindness.  Twitter has been THE best professional development I have ever gotten, and the best part is that it is ongoing and on my own time.  If you want to join Twitter, here is how it works.

  1. Go to Twitter.com and create an account.
  2. Skip through the suggested people for you to follow.
  3. Search for @braymo22 and @gitsul and follow us.
  4. Look through who we are following, find the "gurus" from the people we follow.
  5. Watch the tweets for a couple weeks before contributing.

Twitter is a conversation.  Like all conversations there are talkers and listeners.  Since you are new to the community, just listen for awhile to see what people are Tweeting.  Look for a more detailed post on the specifics of Twitter at a later date.  Just signup, login, and listen for now.  If you just cant wait watch Twitter 102 from Josh Stumpenhorst and then follow him @stumpteacher.  He is a great ed tech and social studies resource!
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