What MY Droid Does – Part 6

QR Code for this post

One of the fantastic features of the Android phones is the ability to scan QR Codes. So, what’s a QR Code, you ask? My way of explaining it is that a QR Code is a symbol that stores a URL. When your camera phone scans it using a barcode scanner (link), it automatically launches its browser and goes to that web page. This is really convenient when shopping, viewing a website (this is the QR Code for this post is to the left), or even Geocaching.

You can make your own QR Codes easily. SO EASILY.

1. Copy and paste the following URL into your browser (don’t hit ENTER yet…)
http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=qr&chs=150×150&choe=UTF-8&chld=H&chl=
2. At the end of the URL (after the “=” sign), paste or type in the URL that you want your QR Code to link to – my QR Code linked to https://thumannresources.com/2010/04/22/what-my-droid-does-part-6/
3. Hit the ENTER button
4. Save the QR Code image to your hard drive (or some other location)
5. Once someone scans this QR Code, it will take them to your specified URL. (Go ahead. Try it. Scan my QR Code.)

For more information on QR Codes see:

Source: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/

Then there’s the recent release of Google Earth for the Android phone. It works really well on my Droid. I will say, though, that I would only use it in an areawith 3G. Of course I wanted to see my house, so I went to the menu and selected my location and went to my house – and then pinched my fingers to zoom in. I then went back to the menu and clicked on the Search menu and used the voice feature to search for Disney Land. Once there I tapped the “Look Around” button and changed my view so that I could get a good look around. I also went back to the main menu and explored the different layers to see what types of information were available.

You can visit the Google Earth for your Mobile phone on the web at http://www.google.com/mobile/earth/ or directly on your phone at http://m.google.com/earth.

Oh, and here’s the QR Code for Google Earth in the Android Apps Market:

QR Code for Google Earth

Lastly, I’ve been using Seesmic on my Droid. I had been noticing that many were Tweeting from it, so I thought I would give it a try. The mobile version of Seesmic seems to be a full featured application. It has:

  • Easy access to Twitter Lists that I’ve created and that follow me
  • A tutorial built right into the application
  • You can manage your profile from within the app
  • Varied selection of external services (photos, URL shorteners, video hosts)
  • Options for notifications

Here’s the QR Code for Seesmic in the Android Apps Market:

QR Code for Seesmic
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Social Networking in High School

Is the average high school student able to define social networking or give an example of it? I thought most would use Facebook as an example, but during a recent visit to a local high school, one freshman student used e-mailing his teacher in First Class as an example.  Many of his classmates were of the same opinion as he, so it opened up a much-needed conversation during which this classroom full of 20 students spoke about where they preferred to network with each other.
Their preferred places to communicate with their friends:
As for social networking in schools, the students felt that there were just too many places to have to check already (a complaint that teachers share themselves).  It was the one topic of conversation that period that everyone in the room seemed to agree on. The complaint was that in one subject area the teacher would use Moodle, the next Google Apps, the next Diigo and that ultimately they forgot to check something and missed turning in an assignment.
Image Credit: http://treatingyourself.com

When asked which network would be the preferred place to use for school, students had a tough time coming to a consensus. We posed a similar request as to which gaming system the majority of the class would prefer to use (ie X-Box, Wii, Nintendo DSi) and they could not make a decision either. We reasoned that teachers felt the same and found it difficult to find a content management system or collaboration tool that satisfied every staff member in a building which resulted in all these different tools the students had to use.

The conversation ended with a link to a Wallwisher we had set up in the hopes that those that didn’t particate in the conversation might take a stab at it this way. They didn’t really. The comments left were from the same boys (the young ladies remained very quiet during our session together) that shared their opinions during class and the tool, in this case, didn’t reveal anything that our talk hadn’t uncovered. But it did introduce the classroom teacher to an easy way to post a question or topic and have students share answers.
Yet another place to have to check for information.

How Can We Help?

The "Fail Whale" made an appearance at the #140conf meetup

It was the last question asked from the audience at the #140conf meetup at the New York Times building yesterday in Manhattan. Just over 70 social media gurus gathered to listen to three members of the NY Times team speak and then a panel of educators (of which I was honored to participate in) moderated by Parentella.com founder Aparna Vashisht.  Liz Pullen, Deven Black and I fielded questions regarding how Twitter was being used by educators for professional development, with students, and as a social networking tool in education.

Here’s a link to the  Ustreamed recording of the panel if you are interested in listening/viewing the discussion that Aparna moderated. I think that many in  the audience were surprised at just how networked teachers CAN be. So I think that when Chris Kieff closed the conversation that evening with “How can we help?” we were right to answer with Donors Choose and to just continue supporting educators as professionals.

What My Droid Does – Part 3

I get it now.

I understand why everyone has been so obsessed with their iPhones for the last couple of years. But I am also happy that I can do everything that they have been able to do, and in some cases… I can do it better. One of the videos that I show when I facilitate workshops on iPod Touches in Education is this one. I find it amazing that these young women were able to create such wonderful music and I have been enjoying listening to my own children create their own music with my iPod Touch and now with my Droid using the following music apps.

  1. Strings – Guitar Solo Lite
  2. Piano – Piano Play
  3. Percussion – Hit It! Lite
  4. Wind – Magic Flute
  5. Tap Tap Revenge – There’s talk…Join the Facebook Group to bring TTR to Android Phones

Here are some other apps from the Android Market that I have found useful. I wanted to share them here.

Scan2PDF Mobile
“Scan2PDF Mobile is a  new software release which uses your mobile phone to scan documents and convert them to PDF files. It all happens on your phone allowing you to scan documents anywhere – as long as you have your phone. Think of it as a document scanner/fax machine that you always have with you!”

Google Voice
If you really don’t understand the benefits of using voice, please read this article from MacWorld.  If you want to use your Google Voice number full-time from your Android phone, here’s some tips on how to best go about it. Incidentally, all Android powered phones come pre-installed with the following Google Apps:

  • Quick Search Box
  • Gmail
  • Latitude
  • Google Contacts
  • Google Goggles
  • Gooogle Voice
  • Maps
  • Google Talk
  • Finance
  • Google Calendar
  • You Tube
  • Buzz – (We’ll talk about this in my next post.)

Swift

I also have marveled at how effortlessly folks have Tweeted from their SmartPhones including the fast posting of pictures and video. I started off a couple of months ago using Twidroid but have happily switched to a different Twitter app called Swift.

With this app I can easily follow @Mentions, Direct Messages, the timeline of my friends as well as search Twitter and check out profiles. It’s easy for me to share a picture via Swift as it’s integrated with my camera. Plus I can select which hosting services I want to use for pictures and videos that I take and want to Tweet.

If you happen to be looking for something cool and creative to do with some of your pictures, you might want to take a look at PicSay for the Android phone. You can use it to color-correct pictures, add word balloons and all sorts of effects. The paid version has a few more bells and whistles, but I’ve been happy with the free version so far.

What apps have you been using with your Android phone? Please share them with me here. Thanks.

Online Communities for Students

I’ve been working with a group of high school teachers that have very little technology available to them. They each have a tablet computer and a projector and that’s pretty much it. There are no other computers in the room and there are no wireless laptops or laptop carts available to bring in for the students to use. We’ve built our time together on making the most of the one computer classroom. So, as I blogged about in the beginning of the year we focus on using the tablet PC as a presentation tool, a productivity tool, and a tool for the students to use during small group activities and even during whole group instruction.

The more time we spend together, the more this small group of teachers sees how their students would benefit from using technology on a regular basis. They have begun using web 2.0 applications that the students can access from home so that they are incorporating technology into their curriculum – more – just not really in their physical classroom. So the questions of building virtual learning communities for students has come up. I even Tweeted about the other day. Here are the responses I received:

kyteacher @lthumann Either Ning or Edmodo. We use both, depending on the assignment.

Taml17 @lthumann Depending on what types of comm and how much, I might look at a wiki first.

khokanson @lthumann we are having GREAT success with ning at my school as digital portfolios HOWEVER monitoring is KEY!!!!

MagistraM @lthumann most of my colleagues in FL dept have gone with Ning for flexibility and broad potential.

keisawilliams @lthumann Is it around a project? Or do you want something more Twitter-like?

courosa @lthumann that’s what I’m using.

jepcke @lthumann What age students? What type of communication? Ongoing? Community building? For a project/unit?

kristenswanson @lthumann Depends on the purpose and the size of the group…. ;0 Maybe NING, maybe Edmodo, maybe a plain ‘old wiki… ;0

Dsalvucci @lthumann Edmodo.com does not require email addresses to join, easy to use and very secure.

keisawilliams @lthumann Have you seen Twiducate? I haven’t tried it yet. http://www.twiducate.com/

kyteacher @lthumann Then I would recommend Edmodo.

keisawilliams @lthumann Take a look at Kidblog too http://www.ncs-tech.org/?p=4726

sharnon007 @lthumann u can petition ning to remove ads if used for ed w/kids

amandacdykes @lthumann what about edumodo (sp?) I just know ning is blocked at my school.

beacantor @lthumann have you looked at nicenet.org? A bit rudimentary, but very easy to set up and monitor.

keisawilliams @lthumann Using the SMC technically and pedagogically http://socialmediaclassroom.com/index.php/using-the-smc Have the tchr watch this vid.

kmulford @lthumann: Edmodo, hands down.

lesreilly @lthumann Curious as to what you went w/ as far as student comm. Nigh or basic blog or wiki or maybe google group? What feedback did U get?

nsharoff @lthumann – I would suggest Moodle (FREE) for MS teacher & students

digitalmaverick @lthumann Moodle has an incredibly supportive community – try @iusher for brilliant examples of its use in many schools

kmulford @lthumann: Edmodo is like Facebook for the classroom. The interface is appealing to kids, yet it is “protected” and much safer.

kmulford @lthumann We have “reluctant learners” who don’t do any homework, but WILL spend time on Edmodo talking to classmates and teachers.

urselle @lthumann How about Edmodo, Google Docs, Hotchalk for students to communicate. Ning is very easy, though.

Bear in mind that many of these Tweets are in response to my responses to their questions. You can certainly go back and view my responses at http://twitter.com/lthumann, but the crux of what I was Tweeting was that the teacher wanted the ability to moderate, has no e-mail addresses for his students and I originally was researching for a middle school teacher who I will be seeing next week, but I remembered that I would be seeing a high school teacher who also wanted to pursue building an online community with his students.

Here’s the list of possible community building tools that I was able to put together thanks to my Twitter network:

  • Moodle – “Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.”
  • Ning – Ning is an online platform for people to create their own social networks
  • Edmodo – “A private social platform for teachers and students to share ideas, files, events and assignments.”
  • Twiducate – A free resource for educators for teachers and students to continue their learning outside the classroom.
  • Hotchalk – HotChalk provides a free online learning management system, a library of free and premium digital content, and a portal into today’s educational landscape with innovative articles and the latest news
  • Google Docs – Safely store, organize, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations online
  • Blog – “is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog)
  • Wiki – is a website that allows the the editing of any number of web pages via a web browser There are typically multiple editors on a wiki site. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki)
  • Google Group – Groups provides a method for true communication and collaboration with group members
  • Nicenet.org – Nicenet is a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to providing free services to the Internet community. Nicenet’s primary offering, the Internet Classroom Assistant is designed to address the pedagogical needs and limited resources of teachers and their students.
  • Kidblog – Kidblog.org is designed for elementary and middle school teachers who want to provide each student with their own, unique blog.

When I met with the High School (science) teacher on Tuesday I told him that I had a plethora of ideas for him but that he needed to be clear as to what the objectives of an online community for his students were. This is what he laid out:

  1. A place for the teacher to house resources and documents from class
  2. An alternative way for students to submit assignments. (Currently many of them e-mail them to him.)
  3. A place for students to communicate with each other in a supportive manner with regards to course content.

Well, this was a start. I was happy to demonstrate some tools that would fit these three objectives knowing the teacher was clear as to what he was trying to accomplish. But our last hurdle was going to be the district filter. So immediately we were able to eliminate several of the online applications listed in the Tweets above.

Our ultimate decision was to sign up one of his classes on Edmodo. Edmodo appealed to this teacher and met his objectives. Fortunately, Edmodo was not blocked by the district’s filter (yet…) and the bonus was that it came highly recommended from my PLN.  Edmodo seemed to be our best choice.

It will be interesting to see the objectives from the middle school teacher next week to see if we select the same tool.

What My Droid Does – Part 2

On January 5, I sat waiting for the live feed from CNN on the new Nexus One, but all I got was this Twitter update. Bummer. I was able to watch the recorded video a bit later and read about the phone to determine if I had made the wrong decision purchasing the Motorola Droid rather than waiting for the release of the Nexus One. I remain happy with my decision.

Here’s what my Droid does:

I recently uninstalled Skype Lite on my Droid as all it let me do was chat. That was nifty for about a week. But what I really wanted to be able to do was use the features of Skype. I started searching and found Fring. You have to check this out!

Fring allows me to call and chat with my Skype contacts using 3G or wifi. I have the option to add additional accounts as well including AIM, Google Talk, Twitter and Yahoo, but as of today I have kept it just to Skype and it is working very well.

Source: http://www.geardiary.com

The next app I wanted to write about has been around for iPhones and iPod Touches a while now. I was excited to see that there is a Bump app in the Android Market. Before I explain what Bump is, let me just say that the applications are compatible from iPhones to Androids, so Bump away.

Bump was designed so that people can easily swap contact information. There is no longer the need to manually type in someone’s cell phone number or any information. All you need to do to use Bump is for both users to have it installed. (It is FREE). You literally bump phones (but not too hard – just ask the folks I hung out with last summer at BLC09).

Make sure to install this app before your next conference, convention or social gathering.

I mentioned Twidroid in my first post about the Droid. I don’t think that this application could be any easier to use. (Of course this is coming from someone who Tweeted from a Blackberry.) I can:

  • easily follow the hyperlink in a Tweet
  • easily RT (re-tweet someone)
  • look up someone’s profile
  • send someone a direct message
  • attach a photo or video to a Tweet
  • Search by hashtag
  • save a search and then revisit it another time
  • view lists I subscribe to
  • check out the Twitter Trends

There are more features available if you purchase the Pro version, but for right now, this version suits me just fine.

Something to look forward to:

Tether – formally Tetherberry is working on an Android app. You can sign up for their Beta here http://www.tether.com/android-beta. This is something that I miss and am looking forward to being able to tether my netbook to my Android when I need to.

What My Droid Does – Part 1

My goal since I purchased my Droid at the end of November has been to use it productively. But let’s face it. Most people ask me what I can do with it? It’s pretty much been a conversation of how it compares to a Blackberry or an iPhone.

Here’s what my Droid does:

I’ve downloaded and installed the UStream app from the Android Market. Since I already have login credentials for UStream, all I had to do was type in my username and password on my Droid and I was live on UStream. It couldn’t have been easier. I contemplated inviting my Twitter network to see my dog, Jazz, but thought perhaps another time.

After I was done experimenting with UStream, it occurred to me that many people prefer using Qik. I checked and there is an app for that in the Android Market.

More and more educators are using Evernote. This is also available in the Android Market for free. I can leave audio recordings, take pictures, upload files, or type in text and it all syncs with my Evernote account.

WordPress for the Droid – There’s an app you can find in Android Market called “wpToG0”. From this Android application, I can moderate comments on my WordPress blog, publish posts, and work on drafts. It has pretty decent functionality when it comes to tagging, categories, formating and uploading images.

Layar – This is so cool!!


“Layar is a free application on your mobile phone which shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of reality through the camera of your mobile phone.”

Notepad – “Note Pad is a simple text processor, which lists all notes in a linear structure. Users can only add, edit and delete notes.” This is so simple, yet when I’m parking the car, sometimes I need to jot down which level or which row so that I can find it 6 hours later. You can find this app listed at http://www.androidfreeware.org/.

Finally, I want to mention the free version of  Advanced Task Killer. I noticed that sometimes my Droid was a bit sluggish, so I researched it and it turned out that many of the apps I had been launching were still running in the background. I installed this application so that I could manage all my apps in one place. You can uninstall from here as well as exit out of any applications you currently don’t need running.

I’m always looking for new resources to add to my bookmarks and new apps to install on my Droid if you have any suggestions.