Cool Tool: URLBunch

http://somup.com/cDV3rZ0Sq

This is a really cool tool. It lets you create a simple tabbed list of links for sharing with students. Can you think of any other cool uses?

Office Mix – Tutorial

Office Mix

I’ve been gone for a while, sorry! I’m going to get back at it, starting with this review of Office Mix.

This is the most promising education app that Microsoft has released in years. Office Mix lets you turn PowerPoints into interactive presentations with video, audio, and embedded quizzes. It is a great tool for flipping your class, or more specifically, flipping presentations. If you are like me, you’ll have at least one project each year where students present. While you can use tools like Prezi and Haiku deck to get students to make more engaging presentations, students still have to present in class. Often times these presentations are not well-rehearsed or are poorly executed.

Office Mix can help solve this. Students can record “perfect” presentations at home by spending time to hone their presentations before submitting them. Even if this doesn’t replace the actual presentation in class, it gives students time to practice their delivery and get feedback.

Teachers can also benefit a great deal from this tool. We can work on polishing our own presentations, or just pairing them down to the essentials (a series of five 3-minute videos is generally way better than one 15-minute video). We can also embed videos, quizzes, and questions along the way, and the Office Mix site gives great “analytics”:

analytics_1

You can see how much time students spend on each slide, and how many people have viewed the slides.

analytics_2

You can see who viewed the Mix.

analytics_3

You can see their answers to your questions to see what concepts you need to re-teach or work on in class.

Here’s a sample Mix I made:

There is so much more that you can do. I will be making a tutorial of the features, including how to insert video, screenshots, quizzes, etc. and adding it soon!

GooseChase Scavenger Hunt: Review and Thoughts

It’s been a few days since my last update, but I finally have a few free moments to add my reflection on how our scavenger hunt went last week. Overall, I’d call the experience a rousing success. There were several elements of the GooseChase that were important to know in terms of planning, so I’ll try to cover them here. First, I’m going to explain in detail how to set up a GooseChase. After that I’ll give my feedback on the process and some tips that you may want to use when planning your scavenger hunt.

I: Setting up a GooseChase

Setting up a GooseChase is pretty easy, but will involve some coordination on the part of the teacher.

To set up the game you can follow the steps in the guide I’ve made below.
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Setting Up a GooseChase Scavenger Hunt

This tutorial will show you how to set up a scavenger hunt in the real world using the mobile app GooseChase. A key thing to keep in mind here is that you’ll be limited to 10 groups unless you pay for more members.

1. Create an account or sign in to GooseChase

1. Create an account or sign in to GooseChase

2. Upon signing in you’ll see the “My Games” screen. Click on “New Game”

2. Upon signing in you

3. Enter details for your game, then click “Save & Continue”

1. Give the game a name.

2. Describe the game objectives, etc.

3. You can password protect the game – this will make sure that only your students have access to the game

4. You can also specify the location of the game.

5. Click “Save & Continue” when you are done.

3. Enter details for your game, then click "Save & Continue"

4. This is your mission list

1. “GooseChase Mission Bank” lets you choose from a ton of pre-configured, generic missions to assign.

2. “My Mission Bank” lets you choose from missions you’ve created in the past

3. This is where you create your missions.

4. This is your mission list

4.1 Create a mission

1. Enter a mission name.

2. Give the description – this is the task you’d like your students to complete.

3. Assign a point value

Additional Details will let you add links and images to the missions

4. Click “Add Mission” if you are ready to move on, or “Additional Details” if you want to add a link or picture.

4.1 Create a mission

4.2 This is the additional details screen. Click “Add Mission” when you are done.

4.2 This is the additional details screen. Click "Add Mission" when you are done.

4.3 When you are done adding additional details, click “Add Mission”

4.3 When you are done adding additional details, click "Add Mission"

5. The new mission will show up in your mission list.

5. The new mission will show up in your mission list.

5.1 This is the GooseChase Mission Bank

There are some great ideas for potential missions here. To add a mission, scroll over it.

5.1 This is the GooseChase Mission Bank

5.2 Click the plus icon to add the mission to your mission list

5.2 Click the plus icon to add the mission to your mission list

5.3 Click the trash can icon to delete a mission

5.3 Click the trash can icon to delete a mission

5.4 This is the list of my previous missions

5.4 This is the list of my previous missions

6. Click on “Start & Stop” when you are ready to get your game underway

6. Click on "Start & Stop" when you are ready to get your game underway

7. Configure your Start/Stop times or invite people

1. Choose a method – either manual or automatic – to start your game

2. If you choose “Manual” enter a duration and click “Start Game” *Note, the clock will start automatically!

3. Before starting the game you will want students to download the app to their Android/iPhone device

  • They should make an account
  • Their user-name is their team name
  • They can search for your game by name

4. You can invite students via email if it’s easier

7. Configure your Start/Stop times or invite people

7.1 The automatic Start/Stop Method

Specify the start and end times. The game will start and end automatically this way.

7.1 The automatic Start/Stop Method

8. In-Game Features

Once the game is underway, you will focus on the In-Game tabs.

8. In-Game Features

9. The activity tab will constantly update as students submit images

9. The activity tab will constantly update as students submit images

9.1 Sample “Activity Feed”, click on an image or the gear in the lower right-hand corner to add a bonus or delete the photo

9.1 Sample "Activity Feed", click on an image or the gear in the lower right-hand corner to add a bonus or delete the photo

9.2 Gear options

9.2 Gear options

9.3 Full view options

You can also easily share an image if all of the students have signed media waivers

9.3 Full view options

10. The leader-board will show you who is in the lead

You can also adjust points manually here.

10. The leader-board will show you who is in the lead

10.1 Sample “Leaderboard”

10.1 Sample "Leaderboard"

11. The “Photos” tab will let you group images by mission, user points, or alphabetically by team

11. The "Photos" tab will let you group images by mission, user points, or alphabetically by team

11.1 Here are the options for grouping the photos

11.1 Here are the options for grouping the photos

11.2 This is what the photos will look like when they are grouped.

11.2 This is what the photos will look like when they are grouped.

The second – and perhaps more important – consideration is the logistics during the game. How will students be grouped? Where will the students go during the game? I highly recommend that you involve parents and or volunteers when running the game. This helps in several ways:

  • You will need someone to monitor the feed as the students complete the missions. This will ensure that they are taking appropriate images and that the images are the ones you asked for. If you want to do this yourself you’ll miss out on a lot of the fun, but will get to watch the activity in real time.
  • You may want to put a parent or volunteer with each group. This can be especially helpful if the activity will take place in public or off campus. Depending on the age of your students, this may be necessary.
  • You can use parents or volunteers to help you by serving as judges. When all of the pictures are collected you may want to have them go through and award bonus points for especially creative pictures or inclusive groups.

Reflection

Overall, this was a great app and the students enjoyed the activity a great deal. They ran all around campus and our neighborhood, had to include everyone in their groups, and were very creative. One thing that was poorly planned on my part was my level of direct involvement with students. I thought that I’d be able to keep track of the score, photos, and bonus points while working with a group, but this was impossible. The mobile app doesn’t really have a way for the activity leader/coordinator to manage the game while in the field. When we do this again I’ll get a parent or volunteer to help with this.

Another issue that came up in our group was competitiveness. Some of the students took the scoring and leader-board extremely seriously. There were times where it wasn’t 100% clear what was worth points for a specific mission. For instance if it says take a picture in front of “X” but doesn’t specify that member need to be in the picture. Do you give points for that? If students are creative and go above and beyond, how many bonus points do you give? Some of these decisions were pretty subjective, and to make this easier I will be more specific in my mission instructions next time.

GooseChase is a great app. I recommend that you try it with your class!

 

Online Scavenger Hunt – Introduction

I’m excited for tomorrow! Last week a team of teachers approached me with a problem. For the past few years they have been doing a scavenger hunt around the school and neighborhood to get students acquainted with our faculty and surroundings. They have always split the students up into groups and given them a list of places to take photos as well as actions to complete along the way. One of the biggest challenges they have faced has been collecting and organizing the images from students.

They wanted me to give them some advice, and were hoping that I’d have a quick tech solution for their situation. My hope was that I’d be able to find a good way for them to gather and organize their photos. In other words, I approached this by first starting small. I wasn’t sure what I’d find and with the relative time-crunch I didn’t want to aim too big. This initial search led me to the site DropEvent.

DropEvent

DropEvent is a great site that lets you create an event, share it via email and then collect and even moderate images. This sounded like it ticked off most of the boxes in their checklist. It creates a central place where users can email their photos and allows for moderation, captioning and even downloading of the images. It also provides a free account for 6 months, which is plenty of time to access and download the photos for longer-term storage.

It also has a pretty simple interface, which lessens the learning curve a great deal:

DropEvent detail

Students drop photos in this event by emailing them to event-specific email address that is generated when you create the event. This allows them to send files from any internet connected device, while the teacher (or student!) can view and later download them from the web interface. Once inside the event it is relatively easy to moderate. The approval process looks like this:

DropEvent Moderation

All-in-all, DropEvent seems like a great option for some activities. However, I wasn’t fully satisfied with the workflow. What’s more, I felt that it wasn’t really a higher-order use of technology. It felt as though there had to be something better out there; something that would be more interactive, fun, and exciting.

My goal for this year (as I mentioned in an earlier post on SAMR) is to try to help teachers create activities that redefine how they use technology in their classrooms. This often entails reimagining the activity itself. In the case of this scavenger hunt that meant a few things had to me modified:

  •  Previously the students completed the tasks in order. The tasks were numbered and groups of students completed them more or less sequentially. Each region around school had a few tasks associated with it, so areas of school were crowded for a short time then empty. This seriously limited the students’ ability act independently or spontaneously.
  • One teacher had to do a huge amount of the work. The students would email one teacher with their images and he would try to create captions and folders to organize the images. This put a lot of the work on one person’s shoulders, and slowed down the processing time.
  • Instructions had to be pretty specific. I like the idea of having open-ended activities that give students the ability to improvise, have fun, and be creative. I wanted an app that untethered students from the task sheet and turned this activity into more of a game.

With these considerations in mind I discovered the world of scavenger apps. First I found Scavify (@Scavify) and it looked flashy, fully-featured, and device agnostic. It had a great looking site and a ton of great features. It uses your phone (Android or iPhone) to track participants progress, and seemed to be a polished and highly usable option when I first signed up.

Scavify

The only problem, and it’s a big one, is that the site costs $2 per user and doesn’t offer a free version. This will certainly raise a few eyebrows in the educator community and definitely will deter most of my fellow educators from using it. If you have the money, it does look great and would be an awesome option.

Enter GooseChase (@GooseChase). I can’t begin to express how excited I am about this site!!! GooseChase has everything I was looking for and is free for personal use – up to ten groups. The interface is slick, it is device agnostic (Android and iPhone), and it turns a typical scavenger hunt into a gun game that others can watch in real-time. In this post I’m going to give an overview of how we set it up, how it works, and how it’ll make our scavenger hunt more fun than ever. In my next post I’ll go over how the hunt went, any challenges we face, our highlights, and student feedback.

Creating a game in GooseChase is easy. After you sign up for an account you will have the option to create a new game. Here is a brief overview of how we created the game:

Tomorrow we’ll be playing this game with our students. I’m so excited. I’ll update this tomorrow to let you know how it goes. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to reply below.