Wednesday, July 23, 2008

QR codes

Having heard about QR codes from James Clay, Carl Smith of London Met etc, I thought I'd have a go at it myself.
I couldn't Bluetooth the software to my phone, no matter how I tried (the .jar file went across but not the .jad file), but with my Sony Ericsson, I managed to transfer the .jad and the .jar file on to the memory card via a card reader and install the software on the phone that way. I used the kaywa reader ( and made my own codes using their online facility (

I think QR codes are going to be great on open day - if you provide the students with the phones/kit to read them, and then have a booth to help students get them on their own phones (which in the long run means you can use QR codes around the college more) - will try this out in Sept 08.

Agree with James re reducing the need to type out URLs etc on a phone to access a website, but I think simply using it for location-based information is useful, and if you provide students with the means to make their own for an exercise, it will get them more excited about preparing and then reading information then a simple label on an item/location.

Ideas: anatomy (qr codes on a mannequin/anatomical figure), parts of an engine, a nature trail - identifying plants, identifying health and safety signs around the college (provide a sheet of paper with the signs and the qr codes, they have to spot them around the college and fill in location) etc.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cutting and pasting with the Wii

Two blog posts in one day! Blimey!

I decided to try out my idea of using cut and paste on the Wii (instead of doing some proper work) and here's the video of my result.

Some of the features I really like about this is the way you can zoom out to see all the photos on your SD card. You will see me choosing the Road Signs picture on the Wii, then cutting the text from the right and pasting it under the correct picture on the left.

Because it's more like a 'copy' than a 'cut', you could do one to many labelling exercises (around input and output devices, for example).

I love the fact that you can make the 'pasted' image bigger or smaller by moving the Wiimote closer to the screen or further away from the screen, so you are using 3-dimensional movement to control the final 'stamp'. What a blast!

Enjoy! (by the way, images are Crown copyright, taken from

Using the Wii for educational purposes

Here are some reasons for using the Wii for educational purposes that I have witnessed in various colleges:

1. The games encourage hand-eye coordination

2. The learners enjoy the interactivity and for under £200 compared to a £3000 Smartboard, it buys a lot of engagement.

3. The games can allow people with disabilities to join in an activity that would not be easy to do in real life: bowling, playing tennis, fishing etc.

4. Learners enjoy creating their own Miis, characters that represent them, and creating Miis for their tutors. A discussion around physical attributes could happen here - face shape etc

5. Take pictures and videos with your SD-card camera, pop them into the Wii and you can draw on top of the photos (pointing out Health and Safety hazards for example), run slide shows, create jigsaws from your own photos. Thanks to Josephy Priestley College for these ideas. One more from me: copy areas and paste them (cut out words from the bottom of a picture and paste them in the right areas to label parts, for instance?)

6. Get on the Internet with the Wii (see my other blog posts about using the Wii) and never have to buy another game! Try the word games, puzzle games, shape or colour matching games, painting programme etc. This is my current favourite logic game that will get your learners' goat (as it were):

7. Browse web sites using Opera (you have to buy this for the Wii) for a whole new experience.

8. I know Hull College have bought a racing game and a 'steering wheel' for their Foundation Tracks motor vehicle students and it helps them to understand manual versus automatic transmission a lot better as they can witness the difference for themselves.

Got any more good examples or ideas? Send them to me and I'll collate them and put in a post to ILT Champs one of these days, or maybe add to Dave Foord's wiki on ILT...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

USB headphones and mic

I have a Samsung Q1 Ultra which is a nice ultra-portable PC. However, it does not have mic input and relies on the built-in mic, which records too much surrounding noise to be effective. 

Having used Dave Foord's USB headphones and mic at the RSC YH summer conference (and suffering the Princess Leia effect), I thought I'd buy some for myself. A little bit of research later, I bought these from

So they're only cheap (£4.99 incl VAT), but they are space saving, and the brilliant thing about it for colleges is that you can attach your own headphones to it!

So, if your PCs still have the audio and mic inputs at the back of the PC, or you just don't fancy sharing ear wax with other people, why not get some of these and get your students doing more voice recordings/podcasting?

I would highly recommend asking students to use as a great alternative to PowerPoint presentations. Good for group work, encourages recording of voice or webcam comments on slides or videos and can be easily reviewed by the rest of the class immediately after the lesson.

I'm hoping to use it with my online teaching from September!