Friday, July 13, 2012

Current News, Events & Issues with QR codes? An experiment...

Well the last couple of days have had me pondering how informed are today's youth are with regards to current news, events & isuues in not only their local communities, but their state, country and globally as well. Holidays do that sometimes...allow us to ponder questions we may not normally have time for when teaching, writing reports, communicating with parents and colleagues, etc etc etc.

Anyways...last term, I remember mentioning to my homeroom something that I had seen on the evening news broadcast the night before; I think it might have been something to do with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the UK to be completely honest but this in itself is irrelevant.

Surprisingly, of the students who responded...none of them had really any idea what I was talking about...this struck fear in me, as how can we expect our kids to invoke change and better world for the generations to come if they have no idea of what's going on around them. Now before I get the comments stating the contrary: 

I know that not all kids are ignorant like this, but if do not engage them in the news or current events/issues or promote that they should further investigate what they read, see and hear, then they may not develop the research and synthesis skills they need to survive out in the world.

For the uninitiated, what is a QR code?

A QR (Quick Response) code is basically a graphics-based link to some place on the web. They can be used to link to any valid URL. More recent uses include the ability to join a network (on Android devices), purchase items from iTunes, initiate Skype calls and download files.
Example: The QR code for this website is above

How do I input that into my mobile browser?

Using a QR code reader (an app installed on their mobile devices), you simply point their mobile device's camera at the QR code and let it do the rest...

What happens is that the QR app installed on the phone will scan the code, translate it into text and then redirect the user to the intended URL or aforementioned function.

So the plan...

What: To give my Year 10 homeroom a worldly knowledge that they may not get from any of their other classes and to help develop their investigation & synthesis of current news, events and issues.

How: Using a QR code generator like QR Stuff, and a QR code reader (suggestions in the comments please), create a range of different QR codes for my classroom that cover a range of issues, both locally and abroad, to see whether the students start investigating and understanding, even if only on a basic level. Hopefully by the end of the experiment, they will come out with a more "worldly" knowledge...The hope is that in the long run, we can discuss current events and issues as a class and that a general interest in current news & events is born.

Feel free to suggest current news, events and issues that you might think appropriate for a Year 10 homeroom.

When: Term 3 and ongoing

So that's the plan...feel free to send the feedback my way

As always...May the Tech Be With You

Jimmy V

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 introduction & plan...

So here is the second ICT tool post on here...apologies for the delay in getting to this point....

For this post, I'd like to explain Aurasma, an Augmented Reality (AR) application for iOS & Android devices. There are a number of other AR apps out there on the App Store/Marketplace however Aurasma seems to be the most popular. Now for the time being, I'll post the plan and hopefully get some feedback from you all...and once it happens, I'll write up a short evaluation, detailing what went right, what went wrong, what could have been done differently or better and some overall thoughts.


See some of the other applications for AR that are currently out there at the moment....after the jump as always....JUMP!

PS >> Aurasma was recently discussed at video just yet however a brief blog post from the great guys at TED..again after the jump....JUMP!

First of all, Augmented Reality...what is it?

Augmented Reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect view of a physical, real world environment whose elements are augmented by a computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. (Mashable)

Aurasma is an app that facilitates these features and allows you to create & share Auras. Auras can be images or videos captured from your Photo Library, or they can be Aurasma animations, that can be overlayed on any object.

The way the app works is that when Aurasma detects an object that has had an Aura created for it, it displays/plays the overlay. Another feature is that Aurasma can be used to display/play an overlay at a particular location...these are called Location Auras; these are auras that are only activated

The beauty of Aurasma is that it is FREE and they do offer the option of signing up to their Partner Program which is also FREE and allows you a lot more freedom with the application...more on this part when I get my  head into it...

Example: See how Marvel Comics has recently implemented AR into their comics....JUMP!

So the plan:

What: I would to use Aurasma to help teach my Year 8 students about the Cartesian Plane and reading co-ordinates from a map in a bit of a more visual and engaging way.

How does Aurasma help this I hear you ask? Well giving the students a map of the school and an iPad, the idea is to have them go on an "Aura hunt" that would require them to gather the clues left by each aura at the various locations around the school to solve a riddle, question or conundrum. The other side to the plan is to not only have myself present clues (as an aura) to the students but their other teachers and other known personalities in the school community.

Feel free to suggest riddles, questions or conundrums for the students to solve...

How: Using Aurasma on my iPhone, create a number of overlays for the students to find using their AR devices. Then get the students to find the auras & gather the clues to solve the riddle, question or conundrum.

When: late T3 - early T4

So that's the plan...feel free to send the feedback my way

As always...May the Tech Be With You

Jimmy V

Thursday, July 5, 2012

#VicCS4HS Pre-Post

So as I do most days, I receive an email from the Edulists. Yesterday was something different invitation to an event that I couldn't refuse...#CS4HS

Many of you are probably thinking what does the acronym stand for...

Well to the uninitiated...we're talking about the Computer Science for High Schools event, organised by VCAA, Monash University & The University of Melbourne. From what I can gather, this is a Google-sponsored initiative to get Computer Science subjects and Computational Thinking into secondary classrooms. This is the 2nd year that this is being held at The University of Melbourne.

While it is open to a limited number of people, I would like to open the discussion to all of you and will be doing so in the following ways:

  • Between now and next week, please fill out the survey which can be found after the jump....JUMP
    • Even if you are not a Victorian or Australian educator, please contribute to the discussion...your own part of the world may have this discussion regarding introducing Computer Science very soon (other states of Australia, with the looming introduction of the National Curriculum, I'm primarily looking at you!)
  • On the 11th & 12th of July (next week), I'll be tweeting...if that is acceptable...with the hashtag #VicCS4HS. 
I'm excited as a young educator to be able to make a contribution to the discussion. Seeing some of the names on the list of attendees, it will be a little daunting but I will pull through...I'm sure.

In the meantime, I am currently in the process of planning a number of posts, looking at ICT tools...I know this is meant to be a tech blog and I'll admit I've been a tad distracted so for that I apologise, but appreciate that you've stuck by the blog! 

In the last 5 weeks, the blog has received almost 500 pageviews, my Twitter feed has grown from 60-odd followers to almost 300 and I'm connecting with more and more educators & organisations every day! So thanks for the support, stick in there, happy holidays and finally....

May The Tech Be With You

Jimmy V