Pre-Conference Workshop: Instructional Fun Tools That Tantilize

I don’t even remember what the title of this workshop is, but when you bring out a BB-8 within the first 5 minutes, you have my attention! Audrey and Brandon are friends, so I might be a little biased, but I’m looking forward to taking away some new tools. Unfortunately, they started off with a technical issue, but they recovered nicely. They moved from the BB-8 to Chirp – showing how to create messages that are encoded as an “audio QR code.” The interesting thing about Chirp is that you can use it to transmit URLs, files, etc. So if you don’t have a network connection in a classroom (that NEVER happens), you can still provide students with a file, if that file is transmitted using Chirp. A really cool feature that Brandon mentioned was the ability to embed a Chirp transmission in a PowerPoint presentation. That allows you to send resources, videos, extra information to students during a class session. Cool!The next set of tools that they demoed are clipboard managers. I’ve always been a big fan of TextExpander, but this is more than just reusing the same info over and over. When doing a mundane task that requires you to copy/paste information, these are some great tools. Clipboard managers they talked about:

  • ArsClip (PC)
  • Ditto (PC)
  • ClipX (PC)
  • JumpCut (Mac)
  • Copy ’em Paste (Mac)

It seems pretty cool, but I don’t know how much I’d use them. Brandon did mention that there could be a security issue, depending on what kind of information you’re copying. Obviously, you don’t want to keep personal identifying information (like usernames, ID numbers, passwords, etc.).The next category are text expanders. A quick look around the room shows that I’m the only other person who’s used them before. Not much else to say about this topic. I use TextExpander and that’s also what Brandon demoed… Okay, I lied. Brandon mentioned a use case of putting saved bookmarks into snippets. That way you have all of your bookmarks, regardless of the browser that you’re using. This type of an application has been a show-stopper. Everyone loves it – and I really can’t blame them. TextExpander is the best.After the break, they started talking about IFTTT, a great tool that facilitates automation. We went through a handful of different recipes with Google Spreadsheets, phone calls, SMS (texting), and other types of tools. In addition to creating recipes for background automation, there’s Do, a product of IFTTT that allows you to do things with your phones. For example, press a button that sends you a phone call to get you out of an awkward meeting. With the last 30 minutes, Audrey and Brandon did a rapid fire list of tools, including Anchor, PopClip, and others. Overall, a great job and a very entertaining session!

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