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Game-like app keeps phones locked in class

March 4, 2015
So Boring...!

Flickr photo by Adikos

Pocket Points* is a mobile app that rewards students for NOT using phones. With the app, they can earn a discount, free cookies or a second pita at a local business. Professors have even expressed interest in offering extra credit! Pocket Points is further gamified with a leaderboard and rankings, features that motivate some users more than coupons. The authors claim it is the only app that encourages students to be OFF their phones.

A location-based iOS app, Pocket Points rewards a student based on how long her phone has been locked and how many other users are nearby. It was launched last September at Chico State by a comp sci major and a marketing major. Over the past five months the app has spread across the country to schools like Penn State, MichiganSan Diego State, and Colorado – along with several community colleges and high schools.

pocketPointsThere has been some grousing that Pocket Points only rewards basic good behavior, but isn’t that pretty common? Many people use incentives to encourage themselves to things like exercising or eating right. Where’s the harm? If phones are the problem, why not let them provide the solution?

[Tip o’ the hat: App Gives Students an Incentive to Keep Their Phones Locked in Class, Wired Campus]

* no connection to the Android app PocketPoints (no space).

Visual design for presentations

February 5, 2015

Poster by Paper Leaf Design

Presentation Makeover Week is a perfect time to discover visual design. Learn the norms that are widely accepted by graphic designers, visual artists, and photographers. After that, if you don’t follow the conventions when developing presentations, it will be a deliberate decision instead of a mistake.

Read more…

Presentation Makeover Week poster

January 26, 2015

presentation makeover week poster

Above is a generic poster for promoting Presentation Makeover Week. You are welcome to edit or reproduce as-is. Please encourage people to visit the original post and comment 0n how they addressed one of the challenges.

Educational Prezi nominations sought

January 22, 2015

8 mm projectorIn honor of Presentation Makeover Week, Vanderbilt’s Derek Bruff is seeking nominations for The Agile Learning Educational Prezi Awards 2015. Dr. Bruff saw the results of Prezi’s own competition and was concerned that they seemed to value style over substance.

Through January 31, you can use this Google Form to nominate presentations that do a particularly good job of using Prezi’s tools “to convey meaning and aid understanding.” Any presentation created before January 22, 2015, is eligible. The winner gets bragging rights.

Last year’s best Prezis

January 12, 2015

amazon Animals prezi

Prezi has announced the winners of  The Best Prezis of 2014. Users submitted nominations and six prizes were given. If you are not familiar with Prezi, check out some of our earlier artricles about it.

The image above is from the winning entry in the Education category, “Animas da Amazônia,” about wildlife in the Amazon rainforest. I linked to the English version, but the original is in Portuguese. It’s a colorful, short presentation, with cool 3D effects and a forest soundtrack.

Presentation Makeover Week

January 5, 2015

Presentation Makeover Week
Since 2009, Just say no to PowerPoint week has unofficially taken place at the beginning of February. PowerPoint does not require bad behavior and other tools can just as easily produce poor slides, so I propose changing the name to Presentation Makeover Week and adding a challenge. Read more…

Use PrintFriendly to save or print web pages

November 20, 2014

treesPrintFriendly is a tool that cleans and formats web pages for printing or downloading as a PDF file. It removes ads, navigation menus, and (optionally) images but leaves the author’s name and always displays the web page address at the top.

There are two ways to use the tool:

  1. Paste the web page address into a box at
  2. Click a browser button (or a bookmarklet on an iPad)

Read more…


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