Monday, November 19, 2012


Piktochart is a web 2.0 tool that enables the user to create cool looking infographics.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and infographics are a great way to convey a complicated subject or something with lots of statistics in a very simple, easy to follow visual story.  They are also very appealing from a visual perspective, and serve to capture an audiences attention.  For further benefits of using this particular medium to present information, see this article - Why Infographics and Data Visualisation Work

My class have been looking at inventions and inventors as part of our wider authentic learning journey which sought to answer the question - As a human race, have we really come that far?  Getting students to showcase their learning through the visual medium of infographics seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring some of their research data to life within a meaningful context. 

As with most of these types of tools, you have the option of creating a free account or you can sign up to a premium account (extra features).  As our school uses google apps for ed, all my class already have individual emails which is really handy when creating accounts for web 2.0 tools that require them.  To create a free account you need an active email address and a password.  As my class were working with a partner, I told them this would be the one time where sharing a password with their partner would be in fact be helpful in case their partner was absent.

Piktochart is pretty intuitive to use and a good idea is to allow students time just to play and experiment with the features before they start their own.  Prior to publishing our infographics we spent a fair amount of time dissecting the visual components of these infographic examples and talking about how symbols, charts, colour, design, layout and text all work together to create an effective presentation.  Jacqui Sharp’s infographics wikispace (still a work in progress) is a great resource I used with my class to  examine these particular components.

Here are a few examples that my class have created.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Google Sketchup & Augmented Reality

Earlier on this year my class were given the task of designing or replicating an example of architecture they had been studying, as part of our unit on ancient civilizations.  They used Google Sketchup to create their drawings.

Inglobe Technologies offers a plugin for google sketchup that allows files the students have created to be viewed using augmented reality technology.  To get this going in your own class, you need the following:

  1. A computer with a webcam
  2. Google Sketchup (free download)
  3. AR plugin for sketchup (free trial download)
  4. A marker ( can be printed off here)

Students created videos of themselves presenting their augmented reality creations using quicktime (for mac). 

Once the videos were made, the students were able to share these via their eportfolios.

If you are looking for more ways on how to utilise this powerful technology within your own classroom, take a look at my presentation on QR Codes and AR technology within the classroom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Augmented Reality and SMART Goals

Our class recently completed writing their SMART goals for the first semester.  Past experience have taught me that many students tend to publish their goals and then file them away in their portfolios never to be seen again until evaluation time, usually at the end of the semester.  
For goal setting to truly be effective, students need a plan of action with checkpoints along the way to ensure they are meeting their set expectations.  Furthermore, their goals need to be easily accessible where they can be reflected upon at regular intervals.
I’ve been experimenting with a couple of augmented reality apps on my iphone recently and thought this technology could offer an interesting solution for motivating students to revisit, reflect and share their goals with others in the class.
Here is the process we went through to make this happen.  We first made a wall display of
student photos.

These were created using the ipad (self portraits) and then each portrait was run through an online photo enhancer  to give them all a slight cartoon appearance.   Students then videoed themselves using the class ipad, outlining what their SMART goals for the semester were. 
We then used a free augmented reality app, aurasma lite - only works on iphone and ipad, to create an “aura” of each of the students work.  For further explanation of what an aura is and how to create one, visit aurasma’s youtube channel.  
When the app is activated and the ipad camera is pointed at a particular self portrait, the student’s video of their goal explanation is superimposed on top of it.

Here is a video of students using the ipad and aurasma.  Apologies for the poor audio quality, but the video should illustrate the concept.

Certainly a real improvement on a static wall display of students goal setting!
There is a real “wow” factor amongst students when using this technology.  From a teacher’s perspective, this has provided me with further motivation to explore other teaching / learning opportunities for using augmented reality within the classroom programme.
I’ve set my class the challenge of thinking up some more uses for using this technology in their learning.
What about you? How else could you see augmented reality technology being used in the classroom? I’d be interested to hear your suggestions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

QR Coded ipad Self Portraits

At the beginning of the year I usually get my class to create self portraits focussing on sketching techniques etc. While most students usually find success with this activity, I always have a few who really struggle with the drawing process. This year I chose to do something completely different, the focus was on getting every student to feel successful in what they had created. The ipad self portrait provided the perfect vehicle for this.

Creating a self portrait using the ipad is a relatively simple process. The student takes a photo of themselves (head / face etc) using the front camera of the ipad. The second stage involves the student positioning the ipad with the photo while another student takes a separate photo of them.

I thought it would be a great idea to also get my class to add some biographical details to their self portraits via QR codes. For this task we used to make our codes. The codes were printed out and glued to the portraits. Scanning the codes with a smartphone or other device reveals added detail about the person in the portrait. The finished products were displayed on our classroom windows.

All the children were quite impressed with what they had created ... so was their teacher.