Tricks and Tools

As technology options grow and the web expands, there are tools and tricks that you can use to make your life easier, both personally and in your teaching life. This post will explore URL shorteners, QR codes, and bookmarklets and how they can help you use internet tools efficiently.

I use tinyurl all the time in my teaching world.  Every time I send out a digital newsletter to parents or a link to staff, I shorten it on tinyurl to make the link more user-friendly.  As an example, I created a tinyurl to shorten the link for my school’s website.  It went from http://www.bend.k12.or.us/education/school/school.php?sectionid=98 to http://tinyurl.com/PREBend.  It is much easier to remember if you’re entering it manually and doesn’t take up a bunch of space if you have a live link.  When I send out links for my digital newsletters, I can create tinyurls for the same newsletter in English or Spanish. (Note, it doesn’t translate it for you, just the link can be written in Spanish.)  For kids, using tinyurl is easier for them to input than long, drawn out sites.

While we’re on the subject of easy communication and ease of use for students, QR code generators and readers are excellent!  Using QR codes is two-fold.  First, you have to use a QR code generator (like delivr.com) to make the code.  But also, those on the receiving end need to have a QR reader to access the information.  In my classroom, I use QR codes to direct students to YouTube videos that I have created or that I want them to watch to support blended learning.  Below you will find the QR code to my “Letter D handwriting video.”

YouTubeQR

By using a QR code reader such as i-nigma which I have loaded on all my classroom ipads, students can simply “take a picture” of the QR code, click “Go Online” and watch the videos and work on their handwriting.  You can use QR codes to send out information to parents (including contact information at open house) or link to student work online (like google docs for collaboration or iBooks.)  When using QR codes for parent communication, it is important to education parents on what these codes are and how to use them on their smartphones or tablets so that they don’t just ignore them.

Lastly, check out a variety of bookmarklets to make saving information or websites more easily.  One that I use is the “Pin it” button for Pinterest.  By installing the bookmarklet to my browser, I have quick access to saving this to my curation site.  Instead of opening a new window, copying the link, creating a new pin, pasting the link, selecting an image and a board, and saving, I simply click the button on my browser, a new window pops up, I select which board I want, and save it.

Using these tools and tricks in your educational practice are easy ways to increase technology use as well as streamline your communication and organization.  There are many varieties of URL shorteners, QR code generators/readers, and bookmarklets.  Do some research and see which ones work best for you and give them a shot in your classroom.  Let me know how it works!

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