Using technology to make your life easier!
Next to Evernote, Dropbox is one of my favorite web-based, cross platform tools. Now that they have added an iPhone app this productivity tool has gotten even better. Now in addition to accessing my files from my Windows, Linux, or OSX I can access my files on go on my iPhone.
Syncing apps and a password database like Keepass or KeepassX has not gotten even more powerful. Thanks Dropbox!
I found this article on Robin Goods blog and found it immensely interesting. I debated as to wether I should post it or not because it really isn’t a tool for learning but I couldn’t resist. The author is Andrew Churches and the blog is “Robin Good Be Smart, Be Independent, Be Good”. There are a few ads at the top of the page so keep scrolling down to get to the meat of the content.
Where I work we often have to build more interactive learning experiences and we played around a few years ago with a demo version of Hot Potatoes. We really liked it and found it easy to use but very limited in the demo version so we put it on the shelf. Today as I was going through my RSS feeds I found out that Hot Potatoes is now a free application along with a web based maze builder Quandry.
“There are five basic programs in the Hot Potatoes suite:
1. JQuiz creates question-based quizzes. Questions can be of four different types, including multiple-choice and short-answer. Specific feedback can be provided both for right answers and predicted wrong answers or distractors. In short-answer questions, the learner’s guess is intelligently parsed and helpful feedback to show what part of a guess is right and what part is wrong. The learner can ask for a hint in the form of a “free letter” from the answer.
2. JCloze creates gap-fill exercises. Unlimited correct answers can be specified for each gap, and the learner can ask for a hint and see a letter of the correct answer. A specific clue can also be included for each gap. Automatic scoring is also included. The program allows gapping of selected words, or the automatic gapping of every nth word in a text.
3. JCross creates word jumble / crossword puzzles which can be completed online. You can use a grid of virtually any size. As in JQuiz and JCloze, a hint button allows the learner to request a free letter if help is needed.
4. JMix creates jumbled-sentence exercises. You can specify as many different correct answers as you want, based on the words and punctuation in the base sentence, and a hint button prompts the learner with the next correct word or segment of the sentence if needed.
5. JMatch creates matching or ordering exercises. A list of fixed items appears on the left (these can be pictures or text), with jumbled items on the right. This can be used for matching vocabulary to pictures or translations, or for ordering sentences to form a sequence or a conversation.
These tools are complemented by a program called the Masher, which facilitates the creation of complete units of material (such as multiple-question quizzes) in one simple operation. The utility supports a range of question types including:
• Short Answer
• Multiple Choice
• Cloze Test
• Word Jumble / Crossword
• Drag and Drop
• Mix and Match
Hot Potatoes allows you to add:
• Question Timer
• Web plug-in objects like Flash Player
to your web server of LCMS-deployed question tests. The tool also adds interoperability in the shape of SCORM 1.2.”
Hot Potatoes is not the most straight forward application to use but once you know how to build each of the games ( a minute or two of investment) they are easy to to do. When I was trying to figure out how to build a JMix I simply Googled “JMix Hot Potatoes” and the first result was a youtube video that was only 3 minutes long. Within another 2 minutes I had created a great instructional game.
The process is very easy but there is that initial confusion as to how to interact with the program.
Give Hot Potatoes a try and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how much more dynamic you can make otherwise dry learning opportunities.
Screenr is a free screen recording application that requires no installation and works right through your browser.
I generally do my fair share of screen recordings usually to show people how to use applications. I use the great free tool Jing to do this and have loved it but it does require a few simple steps to install it and get it working. Screenr takes an easy process and makes it even easier somehow.
You literally only need a Twitter account and a browser to be recording short tutorials (5 min max) with Screenr that have a surprisingly great quality. Once you have recorded you are left with the option of Tweeting your recording, although you can elect not to tweet but you still need to sign into Twitter (hence needing the Twitter account). From there you can access the raw files for that you recorded or get the embed code to put it anywhere you like. All this is done platform independent because it is all browser powered.
Screenr also has a bookmarklet that makes it easy to quickly and easily record wherever you are as long as your browser is open. This truly is such an easy tool to easily incorporate into your routine that could save tons of time in giving direction to students or other instructors. Screenr videos will also play on an iPhone and other mobile devices which is great for getting your tutorials to people wherever they are.
I don’t see this tool replacing Jing or Camtasia (the granddaddy of all screen recorders and possibly the most expensive as well) but it does simplify and speed up the process of screen recording and sharing. If you don’t already have Jing or Camtasia then Screenr may be the right fit for you, heck I will probably be using it more often than I use the other tools because it fits so well into my workflow.
Here is an example of a short screenrecording I created.
I would come up with my own reasons to use this in education but honestly early in the writing of this post I found another article that shows great ways of how to use Screenr for education so here it is.