Last week, we were on a live Google Hangout with Susan Bearden, IT Director and influential educational technology figure, speaking from Melbourne, Florida. Aside from slightly warmer weather outside of her door, we shared the same space and had a productive discussion. We spoke with Susan about her new-age technology app, TweechMe, that facilitates the use of Twitter for educators. She highlighted that this app was a product of ideas started by projects explored with fifth grade students. Susan gave us valuable information about application creation that applies directly to a project we have undertaken in Help Desk, called “Shark Tank: Tech Edition.”
This project requires us to create an educational technology product to present to “investors.” Susan talked to us about the app development process, as well as her mental progression to turn this idea into a reality. She mentioned that her technology education product (TweechMe) sprouted from a need, and that it would not have become a reality if teachers did not need assistance with harnessing Twitter’s educational powers. Additionally, Susan spoke about her partnership with Crescerance, an app development company, that, she mentioned, was extremely useful in her creation. The advice given to us by Susan was relevant and useful.
As far as preparation goes, we spent a considerable amount of time before the Hangout gathering information on our guest speaker and formulating questions that we might want to ask as well as those that we figured our classmates would like to ask if given the opportunity. Once again, Google came to the rescue as we were able to collaborate from our respective homes using Google Drive, on which we compiled a hefty list of questions and research. Of course, as with any interview/discussion, a bit of on-the-spot thinking was required when it came to follow-up questions and such. This was the case in this Hangout especially, as we experienced some technical difficulties near the end of the interview and elected to end the Hangout with a small recap/reflection of what we had learned from Susan before the connection was lost. Preparation is always necessary, but there are times when even the best preparation is futile if an individual cannot think on his feet.
Overall, Google Hangouts not only facilitated the creative process, but made the exchange of ideas entirely possible. Google Hangouts is extremely useful in education, and we experienced this firsthand. (Below, you will find a video recording of our Google Hangout with Susan Bearden.)
Mrs. Chang’s Web Design class participating in the Hour of Code at BHS
Hour of Code, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students, has arrived at Burlington Public Schools. Students of all ages, elementary to high school, have been exposed to the art of coding through a variety of coding tutorials distributed by BHS Help Desk. Several teacher at BHS have brought their classes down to Help Desk throughout the week in attempt to introduce their students to a field that they feel is worth exploring. And rightly so!
Having introduced the worldwide coding initiative to only two classes, I have already come across several students who have had a change of heart with regards to coding after this experience. Many are surprised to find that a great deal of the programs and games that they are familiar with are founded upon such intricate coding. Others have realized their passion for the field after zooming through one tutorial after another and finding that coding is something that they find enjoyable!
One of two classes that came down during the week was Mrs. Chang’s Web Design class, which wasn’t too shocked to find that a large majority of their class work was code based. Naturally, they seemed to enjoy the Hour of Code experience and several students were adamant about the idea that this might be a viable career choice for themselves further down the road. I myself was able to try my hand at a couple of tutorials such as LightBot and Bitsbox. Personally speaking, I felt that these tutorials were appropriately interactive and portrayed coding in a positive light. That said, it’s seems accurate to say that the Hour Code at BHS and all of Burlington Public Schools in general was a tremendous success!
This week, I’ve chosen to pursue Ms. Scheffer’s deferral to AppShed, an online IOS application template that allows users to develop applications with minimal coding. Appshed has proven to be very user friendly and the quality of the template is very promising. My only concern is that I might not be able to customize the application as meticulously as I might have liked. However, because of time restraints AppShed might be our best bet if I’m interested in having a finished product in the near future. I will probably doing more research into whether or not AppShed is actually a viable option. If so, the development process still won’t be a breeze, but there’s a good chance that I’ll be able to arrive at a final product in a timely manner.
This week marks the third week of the HeplDesk Digital development process! So far, Manas (my partner) and I have laid out the storyboard for the IOS application on template called AppPress, which allows us to see the storyboard in action before the coding of the application is complete. Now, you may be asking: why can’t we just use this template to make the application and avoid the coding process? Well, as much as we’d love to, it’s not that simple. Storyboard templates just as AppPress do not allow developers to extrapolate their work from the online template. But rest assured, we are exploring all of our options. In the meantime, we are currently in the process of getting our names onto BHS’s app-developer’s license. With any luck, our names will be listed come BHS’s next license update. That said, we are still working on the coding (Swift) and are still relying on couple of online tutorials for guidance. But as of now, I am happy to report that things are going well and, more or less, as planned. Any ideas/suggestions are much appreciated so feel free to comment on this post or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, stay tuned for more updates!
Sharing one’s own experiences with others is always a rewarding experience. As Help Desk students, last Thursday’s 1.1 Visit at BHS was just another opportunity to draw on our experiences to showcase the school’s technologically advanced environment. My classmates and I acted as mediators, providing insight on the school’s 1.1 environment and citing first/second hand experience to do. I’m glad to say that my partner (Jhymon) and I worked together rather effectively, exchanging points and calling upon one another’s unique experience to answer our visitors’ questions.
The visitors in our group were curious as to how the iPad was used in various subjects, namely mathematics and English. Of course, both Jhymon and I gave our two cents regarding how we utilized the iPad in these subjects. Yet, we felt that the best way display the use of the iPad was to show the visitors, first hand, how the iPad was used in select few classes. Math teachers, including Mr. McNeill and Mr. Blanchette, explained how not only the iPads, but the SmartBoards, were very helpful in the classroom. Notability was also highlighted as one of the most effective applications in the mathematics hall. As for English, many of our visitors were surprised to find that students could use their iPads to not only read the novels assigned to them, but to annotate them in a very organized manner as well. We were also able to catch students using their iPads to access primary/secondary sources amid a research project. In Mrs. Mckee’s classroom, our visitors saw students engaged in a class discussion, during which students used iPads to organize their notes.
The opportunity to address the entire audience of visitors is one that I hold very highly. It’s not every day that one gets put “in the spotlight”. So given this opportunity, I opted to share a bit about a couple of the technology conferences at which I’ve presented with Mrs. Scheffer and a few classmates. I also got to share a bit about my ILE, developing a Help Desk IOS app. Overall, I felt as though I was able to articulate myself effectively. But, given more time, I’m there would have been plenty more for me to share with our guests. Once again, it’s not everyday that we, as students, get the opportunity to help others by sharing our own insight and expertise. That being said, I’m thrilled to say that BHS’s 1.1 Visit was, without question, a great success!
October is coming to an end, and I’m glad to say that TJ and I are now well accustomed to the Help Desk environment. I now feel much more adept at balancing my own Help Desk responsibilities while helping incoming teachers and students with their technological issues. TJ and I have also considerably improved in terms of our cooperation and we now find it much easier to put our heads together to fix a given problem. In other news, our Individual Learning Endeavors (ILEs) are now underway and, as expected, I have chosen to stick with my HelpDesk Digital IOS application. The past week has included a great deal of work with Xcode and another review of IOS tutorials. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks of supporting BHS’s 1.1 environment while exploring my own ILE.
If I was told at the beginning of this week that I’d be attending two state/region wide technology conferences on behalf of BHS in a matter of 6 days, I wouldn’t have believed it. Still recovering from an amazing experience at Edscape, I was blown away by all of the technology showcased at MassCUE. Here at Burlington, we feel that we are in the know on all of the educational technology out there. But as a matter of fact, there is a whole world of educational technology that BHS is yet to be exposed to. At MassCUE, I learned about several innovative technologies tailored to education, some of which were in use at BHS and some of which were still foreign to our 1.1 environment. Companies such as Canvas, IDEO, and ThinkGate have significant technologies to offer to every advanced educational environment out there, and it’s only a matter of time until BHS expands even further into the realm of the educational technology. But in the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that we have enough technology at BHS to maintain a more than efficient learning environment for the student body.