I participated in a Teq webinar on QR codes today. I thought I was fairly well versed in QR codes and their uses, but I learned a couple of interesting things today that I thought I’d share. First of all, I hadn’t played much with QR Stuff. I think I sometimes become set in my ways with regards to tools—not that I don’t like to try new ones, but if I have a tool that does what I need, I tend to stick with it unless I need to change, and sometimes, this isn’t a good thing. QR Stuff is cool because it allows you to change the color of your QR codes and also allows you to easily create codes for a variety of data types, including plain text.
One of the webinar participants said that you can point QR codes to Google Docs to share text-based content, too. I like this idea, but I need to play around with it a little more. I am a little bit embarrassed not to have thought about connecting QR codes to Google Docs before. Unfortunately, some tech issues on my end kept causing me to drop out of the webinar, and I had to reload U-Stream in order to get it working again. It seemed to happen whenever I tried to use chat.
Finally, I learned about the QR Reader iPhone app. I have been using Red Laser, which scans all kinds of bar codes, including QR codes, but I actually like the way QR Reader handles scanning QR codes better. Red Laser’s focus is mainly on price comparison, and its QR code features are limited. It’s easier to scan codes with QR Reader. Better than that, however, QR Reader has a creator feature that allows the user to create all kinds of QR codes and save them to the iPhone photo album, send them via email, print them, or share them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or Tumblr. Cool!
I had already heard about another tool mentioned in the webinar, Class Tools’s QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator, a very quick and easy tool to generate scavenger hunts, but I don’t recall if I have mentioned it here before, and it’s something many of you might want to check out.
QR codes have a lot of potential in education; your only limitation is really your imagination (and your mobile device).
It also pays to see how other folks are using tools you think you know a lot about and try doing things their way.
Diigo is one of my favorite, most indispensable social networking tools. I use it not only to bookmark sites and articles I find interesting and useful, but also to share those links with others. When I first started using Firefox many years ago, I found I was consistently losing my bookmarks. I turned to the online bookmarking service Delicious so that I wouldn’t continue to lose precious links. I discovered I actually liked the social bookmarking aspect of Delicious. I could subscribe others’ bookmarks, and they could subscribe to mine. It was a great way to discover information. Even after Firefox’s bookmarking issue seemed to stabilize, I continued to use Delicious. Then Diigo came along.
Diigo has several features that prompted me to stop using Delicious as my main bookmarking tool. First, educators have access to a few of the special features that regular free users don’t have. Teachers can create class groups and student accounts so that students in a class can share bookmarks to the group. I tried this feature out with somewhat limited success, but I think if you had a class that really understood the power of social bookmarking, it would work very well. It’s probably my fault that the students didn’t use the feature much, but when I try this feature again, I will do a much better job of educating the students about its uses. Diigo educators also have a Teacher Console, which makes it easy to manage your class group.
Because I like to share my bookmarks, I have three systems in place the help me bookmark and share my bookmarks more easily. First of all, I have an extension installed in Firefox called Diigo Toolbar. Similar extensions are also available for Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. I can use the toolbar for a variety of tasks, such as adding a sticky note or highlighting information on a website, saving information to read later, or simply bookmarking sites. I admit I don’t use the first two features much, though I probably should use them more. You can make your sticky notes public or private: it’s up to you. When I bookmark a site using the toolbar, a popup window appears. Here I can change and add information to the bookmark. I almost always add a short description of the bookmark and tag it with appropriate tags. Tagging is crucial because it is the easiest way for me to find my bookmarks in my account. I simply search my tags in my Diigo library. Here is an example of what happens when I search for bookmarks tagged “gatsby.” I can also choose to send a link to my new bookmark out via Twitter or save it to a group. I am a member of several Diigo groups, including the English Companion Ning Group, the English Teachers Group, and the Diigo In Education Group. You can create groups and easily share resources among members of your department, your classroom, your school, your district, or any other group.
In addition to the Diigo Toolbar in Firefox, I also use a feature that automatically saves tweets I mark as “favorite” in Twitter to my Diigo account. It just takes a minute to set up, and then it’s easy to collect bookmarks using Twitter. Twitter is my best source of information and links. Members of my professional learning network (PLN) on Twitter are always sharing great websites, tools, and blog posts, and simply by mousing over the tweet and clicking the star on their tweet, I can mark it as a favorite:
This process is even easier in my preferred Twitter client, YoruFukurou. I don’t even have to mouse over the tweet to be able to see the star.
Anywhere from every few days to once a week, I go to my Diigo library and tag the bookmarks I have saved from Twitter. Hashtags that the tweeter may have used will automatically function as tags, but I usually need to add my own tags or additional tags in order to make the bookmark easier for me to find again.
The third feature I use to help share my bookmarks is Diigo’s auto blog post feature. I set it up once and now every week on Sunday, all the bookmarks I have saved are published to my blog so that anyone who follows my blog but not necessarily my Diigo accounts can see what I found. Unfortunately, you can’t specify which day you want the bookmarks to publish; Diigo automatically publishes them on Sunday. You can choose to publish bookmarks once or twice daily, but I felt that was too often.
One of the nicest features of Diigo is that I was able to set it up to automatically publish all of my bookmarks to my old Delicious account, so anyone who subscribed to my Delicious bookmarks can still receive them, but I don’t have to bookmark using two different sites or systems.
Diigo saves me so much time, and it allows me to quickly curate and share all the great websites and information that I come across. I don’t know what I’d do without it.