Let’s take a closer look at three technology tricks of the trade: Bookmarklets, URL shorteners and QR codes. These tools can make your life a little easier in and out of the classroom!
Bookmarklets are a cousin to bookmarks, related but oh so different! Bookmarks save a specific url while bookmarklets can save a chunk of html data and instead of simply taking you to a website when clicked, it performs a function from a specific Web 2.0 tool. The best part is you don’t even have to be on that site! Bookmarklets can be added to your web browser bar for quick access. Quiettube is a great example. I love using this tool with YouTube videos. I teach middle schoolers and love the functionality of YouTube but am always afraid of what inappropriate content may pop up. Go to http://quietube.com/ (make sure to only use one t). Looks kinda plain, right? Looks can be deceiving because you are going to LOVE this web tool. Follow the directions and drag the quietube button to your browser bar. Now find a video on YouTube and click the quietube button on your browser bar. Instant magic that could save you from an email or phone call from an angry parent about the suggested video or ad that popped up on the screen during your class that day!
Check out these other great bookmarklets.
- Printliminator: Only print out the parts of a web page you actually want- http://css-tricks.com/examples/ThePrintliminator/
- KeepVid: Download YouTube videos – KeepVid: Download YouTube videos
- Bit.ly: quickly shorten any url (read below for more information) – http://bitly.com/a/tools
- Twitter: share a website quickly – https://dev.twitter.com/docs/share-bookmarklet
URL Shorteners are a great way to make long website addresses more manageable. It can keep them from being broken by users in emails and save you characters in a Twitter post. There are several different websites that you can use to accomplish this task such as Bit.ly, Tinyurl.com, Goo.gl and Ow.ly. You can shorten urls with these sites without creating an account or signing in to the page. All of these websites have the same function but my personal preference is bit.ly. I like that you can use the bookmarklet (explained above) to shorten a url without leaving the page. I also like logging in to bit.ly so that I can track my links and customize my bitmarks (shortened urls). Some sites also have a shortened version of the website already available. My blogs url is https://edtechinaction.wordpress.com/ but wordpress offers a shortened version as well http://wp.me/2yfcO.
QR Codes are a great way to engage your students. It works like a url shortener but with an image. Use your smartphone or tablet to scan the image. I use these often in my classroom to engage students in vocabulary and review activities. Right now I have a QR Code outside my classroom (picture shown) that takes students to a website to practice our current concept of cells. My students also create QR code hunts for each other before tests to review. Check out these great websites:
- http://www.classtools.net/QR/ – create a QR code hunt for your classroom
- http://qrvoice.net/ – record your voice into a QR code
All three tools are great for professional, personal and classroom use. My friend, Rob (@mr_v), uses QR codes for his app Munzee (@Munzee) which is a 21st Century Scavenger Hunt. I use QR codes in my classroom to engage my students and url shorteners to help my students find websites (because they always mistype the long ones). The bookmarklets for YouTube save me from inappropriate content in my classroom but also with my kids at home.
Let’s find new ways to use these tools! Leave a comment on how you use these great web tools