Tag Archives: QR Code


Help with Prezi

PreziI have used Prezi a number of times in the past, most recently on the University of Edinburgh EDC MOOC for my submitted artefact (see below) but what I find most complicated or difficult to explain to others is the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) techniques you need to consider and take in to account when designing and creating your Prezi.

Here are a couple of handy hints – some my own and some modified from TippingPoint Labs ‘Top 10’ and The Wikiman:

  • Scale – As most projectors are still restrained to a 1024×768 pixel resolution it’s best to use background images and frames in this ratio too. If you create or use a screenshot in your presentation then it’s best to re-scale your screen or browser to this ration before taking the screenshot.
  • Frames – Use the ‘shift’ key when you create a frame as it locks it to the 4:3 ratio (see above).
  • Hidden frames – Not everyone wants to see the frame border around each bit of text, use the ‘hidden’ frame to structure your Prezi without the border viewable.
  • Search – If in any doubt then search through the extensive archive of Prezi’s on the site for inspiration.
  • Continue reading
Delivr.com QR Code

QR Code Library? #edtech

Delivr.com QR CodeI’ve talked about QR Codes for a long time now. They haven’t really lived up to the hype, and even I admit this now. But every now and again they pop up and someone does something ‘new’ with them. It may not be “wow, amazing” but it’s enough to remind us that there is still life in them yet.

Do you remember the supermarket that was set up in the underground station? If not then watch this: Tesco Homeplus Virtual Subway Store in South Korea. And I’ve talked about QR Codes being used in the Library too.

Well, what about combining these two ideas .. someone did. If you happen to be in Bucharest and are waiting for a train, you now have the chance to download an eBook to read for the train journey home, if you also happen to have forgotten to get yourself something to read before leaving home.

Continue reading

Durham Blackboard Users Conference

13th Durham University Blackboard Users Conference #durbbu

Durham Blackboard Users ConferenceThe Durham University Blackboard Users Conference on January 8/9, 2013 is all about ‘Make do or Spend?‘ next year (spelt ‘sp£nd’ – see what they did there?) with the focus clearly on the VLE (or other technologies) and how well we use it in the face of stiff competition for student numbers in the current economic climate.

You can follow the growing Twitter backchannel on the #durbbu hashtag.

With a choice of 25 or 40 minute presentations, 40 minute workshop, or a 60 minute panel discussion the event looks to attract a good crowd and diverse set of discussions and presentations.

Read the Call for Papers if you’re interested or register for an early-bird rate Conference.

From past couple of years I’ve followed the Durham event I found the following of interest, either because I follow their work or because, at the time of presentation, the topic piqued my interest:

See you in January!


Exploring eAssessment, Lancaster #lancseassess

Today I attended the JISC RSC (Regional Support Centre) North West and eAssessment Association event ‘Exploring eAssessment‘ in the lovely setting of Lancaster House Hotel.

With the event was billed as:

“With the pressure to show impact of e-Assessment in our institutions, it’s important to know that the technology is being applied in the most effective way. We have brought together speakers from near and far to share their experiences of how you can make a difference with e-Assessment within your own organisations.”

the schedule covered aspect of assessment such as ‘developing flexible e-Assessment spaces’, ‘quick wins for learner assessment’, ‘importance of learner tracking as a motivational tool’, as well as how to use QR Codes to “deliver assessment tasks in authentic spaces, allowing learners to interact with physical spaces while recording their actions”. Continue reading

Turnitin and GradeMark Support Materials

Attendees at workshops can often find it difficult to know what information to take away with them. I have often found that the notes I make in these situations are inadequate to help me remember content as I tend to spent my time listening and working through the set examples or scenarios as opposed to making notes.

This is why I developed a series of postcards and videos to support the recent (and ongoing) workshops for College of Social Science on aspects of online marking and feedback using Turnitin and GradeMark. Intended to be used as a take-away resource to help remind the academic or administrative staff member of the workshop topic, if not the content. The postcards have been well received and provided the spark I hoped for for further discussion and individual specific training needs.

Case study postcards

The postcards were designed for full-colour double-sided printing: helpful tool-based hints on one side and a case study on the reverse, from someone in the College who is leading the utilisation of the features of Turnitin and GradeMark. The QR Codes (and short URL) proved a useful way to link to the supporting video to be watched at the users convenience, which are enough to be watched as stand-alone resources without either the postcard or workshop attendance.

So far the feedback from colleagues and delegates are the postcards are an excellent idea, well presented, and a welcome ‘reminder’ to take away and file (desktop, pin board, bin, etc).

YouTube: Heidi Botting, Department of Politics & International Relations

YouTube: Dr Matthew Higgins, School of Management

The QR Codes on the postcards were produced using Delivr, each postcard had it’s own unique code linking to the appropriate YouTube video (above), with associated tracking and statistics (see here for more). Important is also the URL beneath the QR Code that enables anyone who doesn not scan the code (or can’t) to type the address into their browser and still view the linked material!

I’ve also developed the postcards to have an ‘Aura’ using Aurasma, but I’ll write about that later.

Update: Turnitin have just released this video “Why Instructors Love GradeMark“:

Is Augmented Reality really the answer? #edtech #AR

Following on from previous posts on Augmented Reality (Does it have a place/future in education? and Augmented Reality on campus) I’ve spent a little time trying, and enjoying, the experience of using and creating Aurasmas, but have not got anywhere past the stage of just trying it out. So, if you plan it properly for a classroom environment, what can you do? Well, this TED Talk has some great examples, all it takes is an imagination and some planning, and proper implementation into a learning object:

YouTube: Matt Mills: Image recognition that triggers augmented reality

So, what place does augmented reality (AR) have in the classroom? Here are a few ideas – if you have any of your own (or even already done some) then please leave a comment below):

  • Place posters on your walls of historical figures, writers, influential (local, national, international) people and have Aurasma overlays (Auras) of video material either from YouTube of those people or performances, record your own, or have your class record the introduction.
  • Record messages for parents and place the posters in the windows for parents to scan while they wait (hint: change them regularly, keep them guessing and coming back for more!) at the end of the day, or at parents evening.
  • Extra materials for a science project or presentation to augment the materials provided.
  • Learn a language by using an audio aura onto the word(s).
  • AR treasure hunt.
  • Immersive worksheets.
  • Personal messages from each student in their Year Book.
  • School newsletter with personal message(s) from the Head and/or staff.
  • If you present posters at conferences or teaching/learning events then a well placed AR / Aurasma Aura on your poster could be a way to bring moving images, graphical models, or recorded introductions to your work.

There is, however, one downside to AR that I can see right now – that we’re developing resources that encourage us to spend our time looking at the world through the lens on our smart phones.

For me it’s about time developments in technology like this are put to better use – by this I mean for information and learning and not basic mass-produced marketing and advertising: there is nothing particularly clever or innovative about how it’s being used there, it’s just an ad agency using something ‘neat’ for another way to say ‘buy this’ … and here’s a perfect example: O2/Telefonica in the UK has signed up as a commercial partner with Aurasma. This is good news as it mean that more people will be aware of AR (and subjected to it), so could become more widely known, and used. Is this enough to help it gain momentum for classroom use (look what happened to QR Codes)?

Is this using technology for the sake of it … have we just been shown “this is what you ‘can’ do, now work out why” instead of “I want to do xyz, how can I do it?”

Answers on a postcard please to …

Blackboard Essentials for Teachers

Book Review: “Blackboard Essentials for Teachers”

Blackboard Essentials for TeachersBlackboard Essentials for Teachers” is new book written by William Rice for teachers and educators who use Blackboard. By following the examples in the book you will be guided through the process of creating your own Blackboard course, adding static material for students to view (such as pages, links, and media), adding interaction to your courses (discussion boards, blogs,  wikis, etc) and using interactions to engage students in the course through the communication channels.

Scroll down to find out how you can win a complementary copy of the paper or eBook edition of the book from the publishers …

What the book hopes to do is to get a novice or first-time Blackboard user familiar with the interface and features in a manner that they can (a) understand, and (b) use in relation to a taught course site. With the help of the book the reader should be able to:

  • create web pages using Blackboard’s test editor (note: the new content editor is not featured, therefore the book is already a little out of date),
  • organise courses using pages and modules,
  • upload files and learning materials
  • set up discussion boards, blogs, and wikis for student engagement and interaction
  • build and administer online tests
  • online assignment submission
  • manage groups
  • use announcements effectively for student information

I was one of the technical reviewers of the book while it was being written by the author, and provided feedback on the content as well as the presentation style. I’ll say now that I received a complimentary copy of the book for my time and trouble in reviewing the submitted chapters, but received no other payment for my work on the book (i.e. I don’t have to do this review, I wanted to). There, now that’s out of the way.

This review is as much about the book as the process of being involved in the reviewing process, one that I enjoyed and would happily be involved in again (given the chance).

What do I think of the book?
It’s a basic introduction to Blackboard that non-Blackboard users will welcome. There is enough here for more advanced users too but it lacks explanation (for my liking) of the more pedagogical implications and applications of the tools and features of Blackboard. I do, however, agree that the approach used in the book is appropriate for the target audience. The book is effective in its approach and the way it introduces the various features and tools, and goes further than other guides I have read on the administration tools that can help academic and support staff engage the students online.

The downside of the paper book is, as ever, the black-and-white images. I am a very visual learner and like to see examples of what the author was trying to explain – so why not put more images in? Trying to describe a web page is best done with an image of the web page (in colour)! This kind of book subject would do well in an expanded eBook format with more dynamic images (video even) showing in much more detail the process or pages in question. Even if the paper copy is black and white, could they not have created the eBook with colour images?

How is the book structured?
Each chapter is well structured and written from the authors experience, but is based on the open CourseSites and may be subject to discrepancies if the Blackboard installation you have is set up differently from the one described in the book.

With different elements of Blackboard highlighted in the book it’s easy to find your way around the often complicated processes for creating materials or assessments, bold text boxes break the content up and bring new terms, features, or ‘quick tips’ to the fore make it a good reference book.

The structure is good, starting with the basics of organising your Blackboard course and setting up/loading materials before getting into the newer tools like wikis or blogs. My personal preference would have been to leave these kinds of tools until later (after handling the assignments, tests, groups, and Grade Centre) as wikis and blogs are good collaborative and reflective tools that are underpinned from concepts dealt with in those (earlier) chapters. Putting the Announcements and communication chapter so late in the book is a mistake, and I would have this nearer the front and this is still the more underutilised area of Blackboard I see on a regular basis.

One aspect of Blackboard that the book did not cover in enough detail for me is a ‘good’ structure for a Blackboard course site – I know this will always be subjective to the individual or Institution where we/you work but a demonstration of a good structure (and why it’s good) could have made it easier to explain why some of the other features are used, when, and where (contextual).

Did my revisions/suggestions make the final edition?
I think there are a few instances where I can see my comments had an influence on the final edit, but it could easily have been a comment made by the other reviewers too. The difficulty when reviewing a book (I have done a couple now) is that I only see one-chapter-at-a-time, and not always in the order they appear in the final edition. I also had no knowledge of the chapter list so therefore no knowledge of where the chapter I was reading would appear, and what came before or was to come after it. This made it difficult to review as much of what I wanted to know in each chapter may be dealt with later, or not, I didn’t know.

What would I include that the author didn’t?
I have already said, for me, it’s the presentation of the book that is mainly at fault, and to this I can’t blame the author – he’s only working according to the publisher guidelines and requirements. When dealing with a visual topic and/or software that needs explaining and demonstrating why try and describe or explain it in words when an image or video is far easier to understand?

The use of links (even QR Codes?) could have directed the reader off to a YouTube channel with supporting screencasts of some of the more trickier set up tools ro techniques, which would have helped with explanations.

Would I buy the book?
The book is impressive and a comprehensive guide to using Blackboard, and there is something for everyone here, even advanced users.

I can see there will need to be some fairly( major?) revisions in future, or indeed another book, when Blackboard has another update or new release, but the majority of the elementary features (Announcements, Groups, etc) have not changed over the last release or so, much!

Book Review: Blackboard Essentials for Teachers

The book is available in either paper or eBook format, ‘Blackboard Essentials for Teachers’ is available online from PacktPub.

Book Give Away!

The publishers are kind enough to let me copies of the book to give away – two paper and two electronic editions. All you have to do is leave a comment below about how the book will change how you work with Blackboard (and your preference of paper or eBook).

Only comments made to this blog – www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk – will count as an entry to the raffle and my decision on the winners is final. I will contact the winners and get the required details from you and pass these across to PacktPub where you receive your prize. Please note that paper copies can only be sent to UK, US, and European addresses.

Infographic: QR Codes in the UK

Delivr.com QR CodeNot everyone like QR Codes, but I do. I use them on business cards, posters, presentations, lecture notes, etc … they’re a good way to help your audience find an online resource without lots of long URLs to write down (even shortened URLs can be hell to try and figure out AND write down quickly).

  • An estimated 12% of UK smartphone users scanned a QR Code in April 2012 … that’s 3.6 million people – let’s just hope they scanned a meaningful code that pointed to a mobile-ready resource and not some of the other massive QR Code failures!

QR Code use in the UK
Click to view complete infographic

If you’re interested in QR Codes, I have prepared this QR Code Resource page for you, linking to all my posts as well interesting and informative pages I’ve found over the years.

QR Code Reader and Scanner

QR Code Reader Apps #QRCode

I have tried a number of Apps to read/scan QR Codes (all bar one tested were free) and I have to say that there isn’t one that stands out above the rest, so I’ll review the ones I end up using more than others below.

QR Code Reader and Scanner (iPhone/iPad/iPod): Scan QR Codes you find on your travels, in magazines, on posters, etc with this useful and free app. Use the history feature to view/review your past scans but make sure the codes are on a flat surface and in a well lit area (and not on a glossy finished page, it’ll prove difficult to scan).

QR Code Reader and Scanner (free) : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/qr-code-reader-and-scanner/id388175979

Scan (iPhone/iPad/iPod): Billed as the “the fastest, simplest and most user-friendly QR Code and barcode scanner available” it’s certainly the quickest to be ready to scan a code from launch, but is not always able to scan the code if you don’t hold the camera square on to the code, and in good light.

Scan (free) : http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scan/id411206394?mt=8

Quickmark (iPhone/iPad/iPod): This one is not free (£0.69) but it is by far the most powerful of all the apps I use, enabling you to scan and create codes on your device (based on URLs, contact details, plain text, etc) or you can use a photo you’ve saved in your camera roll to scan after the event, if you’re in a hurry. It is also worth checking out the Quickmark website if you use other types of mobiles as they have developed the app to work on other OS too, as well as a QR Code reader desktop solution! For the price it is well worth it, in fact if it could only recognise the code quicker and start quicker then this would be the best app I’ve downloaded.

Quickmark (£0.69) : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/quickmark-qr-code-reader/id384883554?mt=8

BeeTag (iPhone/iPad/iPod): BeeTag will scan a QR Code as well as a normal code (as do the others above) but this app also acts as a price checker on normal barcodes. There is no history feature with this app but the list of available options when you scan a code is impressive, giving you the option to view the code, view/show the URL, save or send the URL to an email or SMS recipient, or save it to a favourite list (is this the history feature?).

BeeTag Reader (free) : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/beetagg-qr-reader/id313157282?mt=8

Unfurlr (iPhone/iPad/iPod): This is a new one to me and I’m still trying it out but so far it’s quite good. It’s quick to launch and only has one function: to scan the code. The advantage of this app though is that it traces the codes path “so you know whether or not it’s safe before visiting the underlying web site.” I’m not sure how it does this, or based on what it makes the %age analysis of trustworthiness, reliability, privacy, and child safety, but it is a good reaction to some comments about QR Code ‘honesty’ that are doing the rounds at the moment (Mashable: QR Code Security).

Unfurlr (free) : http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/unfurlr/id522402427?mt=8

This is not an exhaustive list or accurate survey of the apps, or of those that are available, but just the ones I’ve downloaded, kept, and use.

If you use one not mentioned above than please leave a comment below and review it (link as well if you like) for others so they can see whether it is worth downloading, or not!

QR Code Trend Infographic #QRCode

For those interested in QR Codes, whether it’s for marketing or generally linking paper-to-digital materials then this infographic is worth looking at. It’s just using the basic facts that have been reported in the past few weeks (e.g. 14 million US people scanned a code last year – 2011).

Click the image to view the full infographic.

I’m not surprised that nearly half of the scans were to get some form or discount, the whole point of the encouraging people to Scan the code is to somehow give them something in return.

This Calvin Klein video is a good example of giving the public something, giving them a reason to scan the code – the advert was too ‘raunchy’ for the billboard (deliberate?) so you scan the code to get the explicit video. Good marketing.

Dont’ forget the BU and HEA joint workshop on January 31st, 2012 on “Using QR Codes in Higher Education”. More information here: bs1.bmth.ac.uk/QRCodes/