1.1 Visit @ BHS

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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 holarkinw 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!

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Multimedia at MassCUE

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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.

Template Troubles (Week #4 Reflection)

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Things are up and running with Xcode here at BHS, where the software has been approved for download on select Help Desk iMacs. So far this week, we have been able to familiarize ourselves with Apple’s comprehensive app-builidng software, and to our delight, have found that Xcode makes app-building significantly more manageable that it first appeared to be. The software allows us a choice of several pre-made templates that features key elements of any given application genre. After confuting a series of mini test-projects, we have narrowed down our choice of templates to TabbedApp and Master-Detail, both of which offer certain features essential to our project. The TabbedApp template allows us to install several tabs on the storyboard of an application that permits users to move easily from one feature of the app to the next. The Master-Detail, on the other hand, provides a drop down menu on the side of the storyboard, that allows the user to sort through a decent amount of content relatively easily. The question is: Do we want our application to be small and simple, or comprehensive and multifaceted? Stay tuned for next week’s update to see our progress!

-Michael Seleman

Learning Fast With Screencasts

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Screencasts are an essential tool for a 1.1 school like BHS, where students and staff alike are expected to keep up with the constant updates of an ever-changing technological environment. But what is a “screencast”? Why, I’m glad you asked. A “screencast” is a digital recording of a computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration. Screencasts are often used to give online tutorials showing viewers their way around the newest programs and softwares.

Though they seem fairly complex, screencasts are relatively easy to make, provided a person has access to the pQuicktime2roper tools. Screencast-O-Matic, for example, is a free online screen recorder for PC that allows instant screen capture video sharing. The Mac equivalent of this program, QuickTime, similarly allows users to create screencasts with just the push of a button. In addition tools such as SmartClose can be used to kill all the software programs running on your desktop, in order to prevent any pop-ups/messages from interrupting the screencast. If you are recording with just one window, the Sizer utility can be used to ensure that the window fills the entire recorded space.

But that’s not all it takes to make a high quality screencast. Good screencasters make it seem like they just press record and start talking.  But that’s usually not the case.  It just looks and sounds that way. When you write a script, write concisely, but try to keep it sounding like it isn’t scripted. It may seem like it takes longer to script a screencast in advance, but the more prep work you do, the faster the actual production. And remember: practice makes perfect. To ensure that my own screencast will be of high quality, I plan on writing a script, reciting my lines aloud in the process in order to make sure that my language flows and does not sound too formal. I also plan to do several practice runs of my screencast to make sure that I am comfortable with the process. After that, with any luck, I should be ready to record.

Embedded above, you’ll find a screencast that I felt did an outstanding job of demonstrating the use of Revision History on Google Drive (Chris McQueen). Even without voiced narration, I felt that was a high quality screencast because the feature in question was explained properly, and in a very short span of time. Faint music and editing made the screencast fun and easy to follow. Stay tuned for my own screencast on the IOS 8’s new Safari upgrade.

 

-Michael Seleman

 

 

Week #2 Reflection

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Sample of interactive student Notability project.

iPads are undoubtedly a great multimedia tool for both students and staff at BHS. But there is definitely something to be said about the technology’s limitations. Several students have come to me this past week with complaints about the lack of Adobe Flash Player on the iPads, which prohibits students from using certain interactive multimedia websites in the classroom. Rival tablets hoping to dethrone the iPad have installed this and other software onto their products in an effort to make these tablets no less capable than laptops/desktops. But of course, BHS still believes the iPad is the best device for content creation and delivery. Luckily, there are many ways that BHS can work around this issues using other forms of multimedia. App after app has been realized allowing iPad users to access virtually any Internet resource they want, thus minimizing the iPad’s minor flaw. Personally, I find that iPad functions in several others ways that renders the use of Adobe somewhat obsolete. Ultimately, although it would nice to have Adobe Flash Player, there’s no question that the iPad is more than a competent tool in the classroom setting.

Week #1 Reflection

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So far at BHS Help Desk, I’ve already begun to understand more about technological troubleshooting. According to common misconception, troubleshooting a system/software is nothing more than looking up the solution online. But at HD, troubleshooting is a process during which my fellow team members and I attempt to apply our preexisting knowledge of technology to the task at hand. A large part of the “technology integration” at BHS involves us spreading our experience with technology throughout the school. Being a member of the HD team isn’t just about being an expert on a certain software or device, it’s about learning from the different problems and malfunctions you see everyday. This in mind, the troubleshooting at HD is a process of growth, forcing as to apply our previous knowledge and exposing us to new aspect of technology.

-Michael Seleman