Wednesday, March 28, 2018

QR Codes to track student attendance

This is a topic that I have been working on for awhile now. I always run through ideas in my head, but some never make it out of design & concept. QR codes have been stuck in concept for awhile now, but I think they are ready to be tested this year.

I have seen tons of videos and tutorials about creating QR codes that link to Google Forms for attendance. I always had an issue with students just typing in their own name. Let's face it, how easy would it be for a student to type in another name?

So then I moved onto pre-filled Forms that had their names recorded already. But this is where Google let me down. I tried "hiding" the name in a different section, but since Forms doesn't see it, it never gets recorded.

But the problem of students changing names still exists. It took awhile, but I am going to try the following. I will turn on "Sticky Keys" on the device. That way students can't quickly change the name. Everything on the Form is clicking, so keyboard isn't necessary. I am also going to change the keyboard language. So no chance of the students being able to type in something. Now I have thought about the fact that students can quickly change those settings, but I will be able to see this and stop them.

Our school has a 45 minute period that allows students to go to any teacher they want. I would like an easy way of tracking who comes and for how long. I was worried a friend might pass his code to another student, so to solve that I will color code each period.

I feel like I have a lot of things in place to prevent abuse of the QR codes and expect it to work fine. I will be test running it for the end of the year in one of my classes. If successful, I will roll it out to all my classes at the beginning of next year.

How does it work? Each student will get a unique QR Code slip. When they leave class they need to scan it. It will take them to a Form that has their name pre-filled. They then follow the questions if they are checking in or out. And where they are going or coming from (restroom, library, office, etc.). On tutorial periods, I will scan in each student myself to make sure no one has their friends QR Code.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Thoughts on Acer Chromebook Tab

So Acer announced the long rumored Chromebook tablet today called the Acer Chromebook Tab. And I have to say I was a little worried because I JUST bought the Samsung Chromebook Pro over the weekend. My Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is getting old and slowing down, so I figured the Chromebook Pro was a logical choice.

So why am I not worried? Well, the Acer Tab will start at around $329, the Pro was on sale and I got it for under $500. It might seem like a lot, but remember the Tab doesn't have any type of keyboard and bluetooth keyboards usually run $50+. The other thing that makes me feel better it the screen size, it is only 9.7 inches. When I first started using a tablet to teach, I used the Note 10.1. It was ok, but I quickly realized 10 inches isn't a lot of space to write on. So no keyboard and small screen size makes me feel good about my purchase.

But what about the Acer Tab? Well I think it is an interesting idea. I don't know if it will catch on or not. I can see these in the primary grade levels where touching things and writing is more important than a keyboard. I have a hard time imagining these in grades 6 and up. But hey, that's just me.

Specs wise, it looks great. Almost like a smaller Chromebook Plus with no keyboard. It has the same internals and it has a holder for the pen. Google needs to start implementing more pen input into their apps. A note taking app like Squid Notes. Google Keep isn't it for me. Although, that is the direction I have to move in until my district approves Squid Notes for me.

I like the fact the pen has a holder built into. The pens will still be lost, but that number should be smaller. I think I might pull all the pens from the tablets and hand them out when needed. Curious what the replacements will cost.

So all in all, I am at a wait and see. I do think Android tablets are done. Why would you buy a tablet for Android when you can by a Chromebook and have a solid OS & Android Apps?