Dot Day & ColAR app: Adapting for the Computer Lab

When I saw the post by FableVision Learning about Augmented Reality Dots, I wanted to definitely try to incorporate this in the lab for Dot Day this year. I knew there could be a few stumbling blocks to this though because:

  • There is really no desktop space in the lab to let students color the ColAR sheet without having to move keyboards which is not convenient and in the past has lead to a few dropped keyboards with the younger grades.
  • My students really want to be ON the computers when they’re in the lab especially the younger students.
  • I have typically used Dot Day as an introduction to Tux Paint for my Kindergarten students. It’s a great introduction to using that program but the ColAR sheet is vertical and Tux Paint’s screen is horizontal.
  • While I have the ColAR app installed on my iPad, I only have my iPad available in the lab for students to use.

Not to be deterred, I decided to forge ahead with this for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. I converted the PDF into an image so it could be used in Tux Paint and Paint.NET.

Tux Paint
The awesome thing about Tux Paint is that I can set all white areas to transparent in the PNG image I created and put this in the starter folder for Tux Paint and the students can’t color over or erase the outlines which is perfect for use with the ColAR app! The not so awesome thing about Tux Paint is that the image is sideways but my Kindergarten and 1st Grade students haven’t really minded.

ColAR Sheet in Tux Paint
My sample

Paint.NET
My 2nd & 3rd graders were introduced to Paint.NET for creating their ColAR dots. I didn’t introduce the layers features or anything complex. They are using the Fill Bucket, Paint Brush & Pencil and learning about Edit/Undo or undoing using the history window. The students were warned not to color over or erase the black outlines and they all have done really well with this so far. The one warning I didn’t make was not to fill the outside paper with black which one student did. It still works in the app but the app had a difficult time with this image.

2013DotDay-PaintNET

I try to be as green as possible in the Computer Lab which means almost no printing. Guess what? The ColAR app works pointed at the screen, too! I haven’t shown the the AR feature of the dots to the students yet. I can’t wait to see their reaction next week!
2013DotDay-PaintNET-ColAR 2013DotDay-TuxPaint-ColAR

What About 4th-8th Grade?
As part of our Dot Day celebrations, 4th-8th graders are doing an adaptation of Tricia Fuglestad’s Turn the Table on Tabloids lesson using Paint.NET to draw self-portraits and add the Newsweek magazine cover. I’m not leaving them out of the ColAR fun though. I am going to let them move their keyboards out of the way and color actual Dot Day ColAR sheets!

Edmodo, Schoology, My Big Campus – OH MY!

I am currently using Edmodo with my 4th-8th grade classes but often wonder if another Social Learning platform might be a better choice. Is it a case of the grass is greener or might another platform better meet the needs of what I’m trying to do? Do I want to try something different just because it’s a newer, shinier option or is there something it offers that what I’m using doesn’t? I don’t know the answer. I haven’t tried the different platforms with my students and don’t know that I want to have them be guinea pigs on a lot of different platforms just to see if they might be better.

What to do? During #caedchat last night a suggestion was made to start a document to compare different social learning platforms so I’ve done just that! Why these platforms? They’re the ones I’ve heard about and they have a free option for educators.

Do you use Edmodo or Schoology or My Big Campus or Haiku or Collaborize Classroom? Feel free to edit this spreadsheet to help identify the strengths (and weaknesses) of each platform so that other educators can make more informed decisions about which to choose for their students. If you are going to edit the spreadsheet, it’s best to use Chrome; I’ve noticed there are some definite display issues in other browsers.

NOTE: The ability for anyone to edit this document has been disabled. There were obvious edits made by some vendors about their own products and edits and deletions made to other information that was not true or that removed valid information. This was not the purpose of this document therefore public editing has been removed.

Edmodo Quandaries

I began using Edmodo with my students last year and have really liked the way it lets them interact as classes, turn in work, receive feedback from me on their work, join global projects and interact with other students outside of our school, and practice social networking skills.

The quandaries are …

Old Student Profile
New Student Profile
  1. Number of Groups: In the old profile, the student is in two groups but in the new she is in three groups. She is actually in two groups and one small group. Why is this different in the two versions? I feel this should be two groups since small groups are sub-groups not actual groups but in any case shouldn’t the numbers agree? Interestingly, I asked about this issue twice in the Support Community and got two different answers about it.
  2. School Name: This didn’t show in the old profile but does now. The big problem – it’s wrong! It seems to be showing the first school alphabetically of any group my student has joined even those that are currently archived. The school shown is not a school that my student has ever attended; it’s not even a school in our state. Now, I would just remove my student from the old groups but I don’t own them so I can’t reactive them and remove my students. My student originally joined Edmodo in a group I own and logs in through a subdomain which belongs to our school. Why can’t my student show the correct school name or at least a school name of a current, active group to which they belong?
  3. Classmates: My students have been involved in some big global projects which is why they are showing over 500 classmates and a bunch of teachers. The problem here? These groups are no longer active. They can’t view the profiles of most of these classmates because they are no longer actively connected and the teachers have no access to my students at this point anymore either. Luckily, I do show as one of the teachers in the profile but I have seen some examples where I’m not even shown on the profile and I’m the only teacher that they really know. Why aren’t these connections removed if the groups are archived? They aren’t connections anymore.

I have really liked the ability to connect with other schools or in big projects in Edmodo but may have to avoid these in the future if the school name and classmate/teacher issues can’t get fixed. I would like to have parents involved on Edmodo in the future but they won’t appreciate seeing their child being associated with a school they’ve never attended and they won’t understand 500+ classmates when their child isn’t involved in a global project.

Is anyone else running into these issues? How are you handling them?

Student Portfolio Platform Problems

Last year, my Middle School students created Google Sites to use as portfolios of their work in the Computer Lab. We use Google Chrome as our browser at school. All was working well except when students embedded HTML from other sites. Last year they got a warning message telling them that their page had insecure content with the option to load it anyway. This wasn’t pretty but I knew that the message was coming up because Google Sites always load as secure content (https) while most of the embedded content was not secure (http). I really wish there were an option to not use the secure option when viewing a Google Site; I get it when editing but why not just let it be http when viewing?

This year we aren’t even getting a message and there is no way to get the embedded insecure content to load in Chrome at least that I can find. Does anyone know a way?

For some embeds, the embed code can be modified to be https instead of http and it works just fine but not all embeds will allow it – for example, the above embed does not allow this.

Since I can’t control Chrome or how Google Sites are displayed,  I’m debating what to do:

  • Do I let my students continue on with their Google Sites and have them edit or view their sites in Firefox instead of Chrome? This seems rather counter-intuitive since both products are from Google but don’t seem to play nicely together when using embeds from other sites. Do I limit embeds to those they can modify to use https? Who’s volunteering to come and teach my students that not only do they need to find and embed the code in the correct place but now they need to modify it too?
  • Do I turn on Blogger in our Google Apps for Ed account and have them use that instead? What kind of control will I have on those? Is that a good idea for my under 13 crowd?
  • Do I create student blogs here in Edublogs? I know I can control these but I think there are less options to transfer ownership once the student leaves our school.
  • Do I go with a site like Weebly instead? How transferable are those sites?
  • Do I have students add pages to our Computer Lab Wiki? Those wouldn’t be easily transferred to the student when they leave the school but would be easy to do.

What would you do or what do you do to let students share their own work online?