CamScanner for Android

I just wanted to add a quick post about a very useful and free tool for people who have Android operating system based devices.  The device is called CamScanner.  This app has both a free version and paid version, I continue to use the free version.  This versatile app allows me to take quick photos of items with my device, then turn them into full blown .pdfs to be uploaded to the Internet.

CamScanner enables me to take a physical document and upload to my Edmodo online classroom without leaving my students unattended.  It allows users to create files on the fly.  My students will use the app to turn their work on paper into computer-ready documents that can be saved on the Internet.  I used the app to scan and store my daughter’s pre-school and kindergarten art portfolios online.

You can access this free and useful app in the Google Play Store.

Lucky 2013 Class Expectations

Well, it is a new school year and time for a new set of class expectations for 2013/2014.  Every year my students begin blogging and I attempt to blog more; sometimes with success sometimes without.   I have several goals that I have been unofficially building towards the last several years.  They cover course content and classroom technology use.

My expectations for class content and topics is to cover as much of the 20th Century with my history class as possible.  I am also in the process of flipping all of my classes, so I must continue to build and revise the class resources.  These goals dovetail nicely together, creating a dynamic that should play out well into the future. As our department builds towards expanding 20th Century US History into a two year course, the resources we use need to grow and adapt.  No longer will we need to rely on textbooks, but rather primary sources for the students to interact with.  The focus also needs to be pushed for more higher level activities to be completed in class, while the more basic tasks can be done on the students’ own time.  This reversal of tasks will give students more support for actually understanding the concepts we will cover.  By refining and adding to my resource library there will be more options for students to pull from when comes to finding the right type of material to work with.  We need resources that fit every type of learners needs and ability.

When it comes to new technology and tools this year, I plan to learn and teach the tools we use more in depth.  I also hope you o get my students more involved with collaborative projects outside of my classroom.  I have been using many tools for many years with my classes.  It does sound trite, but it is what it is…true.  The students need to see these tools integrated with each other and see how powerful they can be when used together.  I can start the process through modeling, but my hope is that the students’ imaginations will run with the concepts.  My students collaborate well within the class and within the school.  They now need to collaborate and participate outside of that small sphere.  I am hoping to have a number of students voluntarily participate in either the Flat Classroom Project or the Edublogs Challenges.  I will offer full support, but the goal is for them to want to participate in this new realm.

I will keep blogging about the progress of these goals and expectations as the school year plays out.  Hopefully they will be success stories, or learning experiences at the minimum.


My IFTTT recipe experiment worked…I posted earlier today about combining IFTTT with Edmodo. The post was hashtagged with #IFTTT, which my recipe was to automatically push into my Instapaper account.

The recipe worked as directed. Once the post was published, I received an email from IFTTT that the recipe was activated.
I added another step, but not through IFTTT, I set up my Instapaper account to automatically push out to my Tumblr account. This was set up for strictly educational purposes, so I can direct my students to the account. It still does not meet the goal I am trying to achieve; information posted directly to an Edmodo group using a recipe, but it is a step in that direction.

For now I can use IFTTT to push out recipes and then send an Edmodo alert to students who are participating to the various sites via supplied links to perform the tasks. It is not as fluid as I would like, but it will work for now.

Edmodo and IFTTT

I recently came across a post about a concept called IFTTT, “If This Then That.” I believe I came across an initial post in Edmodo or Twitter and ran with it from there. My path took me to the following blog post by Laura Gilchrist. In a nutshell, you can preset some basic actions for your computer or smartphone called “recipes.” Recipes can be automatic actions where all you do is sit back and watch the presets play out, or they can be latent actions that need your prompting to begin. A more thorough explanation can be found on their website by clicking here.

I played around with the concept last night thinking how it can be incorporated into my classroom. There are many pre-made “recipes” on the IFTTT web site, I grabbed one to use for my personal use, with just a touch of my smartphone screen. The recipe automatically searches for free children’s Kindle eBooks and sends me an email when one is released by Amazon. I had two emails about free books within eight hours of setting up that recipe.

I also created my own recipe for classroom use in a matter of a couple of minutes. I clicked through the prompts on the IFTTT site to take any blog posted here on my Edublogs site with the hashtag #IFTTT to be fed to an Instapaper account I set up. This step is what made the process take several minutes instead of several seconds. My goal is to find a way to grab information that I either find or create and quickly push it out to my students to work with in my classrooms. This will be my first attempt to see if my recipe is a success.

At this juncture, I wish it bring Edmodo into the equation. Edmodo is not currently partnered with IFTTT, so I do not think information and actions can be pushed directly into my classes. I tweeted

@edmodo would love to see a way to work with @IFTTT for educational use.

My thinking behind this is…(drumroll please)…being able to create recipes to push information out to my students even more quickly and easily than I can currently. Yes, this is stated above, but… The goal would be to create spontaneous learning groups, to get the students to learn outside of the classroom. At first, maybe have the students post a comment about an article I find, or a picture that is posted…all assignments would be voluntary at first and count as enrichment assignments. The assignments could grow into the students posting more than written comments in response to my information. Podcasts, vodcasts, vokis, and other such multimedia presentations can become responses. The end goal would be for students to begin using IFTTT recipes on their own. They could be used for my class, other classes, or just personal use.

As a social studies teacher my ultimate goal is to ensure that my students have the tools and knowledge to be successful in life. This concept will hopefully help build solid citizens in both the physical world and the digital realm that we now live in. I want them to be positive contributors to society, and I believe that most of them are doing just that, however it is important to keep improving into the future.