Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#TMMelb @ Quantum Victoria Pt I & Pt II

First of all, I'll thank the Twitter folk, who introduced me to #TMMelb. I'm pretty sure it was one of @JudithWay, @adriancamm or @ccoffa but don't quote me on that one. But thanks to those who promoted it on Twitter as if it wasn't on there I wouldn't have heard/seen/known about it. Basically #TMMelb is a volunteer organisation of teachers from Melbourne and greater Victoria who come together once a term (or so) and present 2 or 7 minute snapshots, on any topic, pedagogy, ICT tool or technology that can be utilised in the classroom.

Getting there on Saturday was exciting as I'd never been to "the facility" before, and didn't know much either, but it certainly sounded exciting. Quantum Victoria is a facility, associated with La Trobe University (proud alumni here), that aims to engage students in science and maths by looking at real world problems.

Upon getting there around 1:55, it wasn't long until some familiar faces and Twitter names began appearing before my eyes. For those that I had met before, it was good to catch up and discuss what we were hoping to see during the course of the arvo, and for the Twitterers that I had only met their avatars, it was great to finally put a name and voice to the Twitter name. Yes, Ziad (@ramblingteacher), Brette (@brettelockyerand Celia (@ccoffa) I'm talking about you guys!

As we shuffled into the mini-lecture theatre, the excitement started to grow...or was that just the sweets (generously provided) starting to get to us? 

So where to begin the reflections...at the start I suppose:
  • @adriancamm introduced and gave a brief overview (before his tour later on) of the drive behind QuantumVic and let those who were new to the TeachMeet format know how the afternoon would progress.
  • @melcashen gave the audience an interesting insight into her travels to Rwanda
    • She spoke of the teachers striving to make their communities a better place through education and the incredible hardship experienced 
    • One of my tweets during her talk I think summed it up my thoughts (and those of everyone in the room):
        • @melcashen #TMMelb‬ courageous teachers working with very few resources in Rwanda yet most of us complain when WiFi isn't working
      • @brettelockyer caused the audience a bit of a welcome stir...and admittedly it was something I certainly didn't expect when coming to TeachMeet. I commend her on her courage and enthusiasm with regards to her recount/fable/allegory regarding laptop trolleys, teachers, and the procedures around these.
      • Ziad Baroudi (@ramblingteacher) & Steven Francis (@notontwitter) then gave a great tour through some of the Scratch resources that they use in their Maths classes @ Avila College.
        • I'm looking forward to using some of these in the very near future and will provide updates when I have some stories to tell!
    Unfortunately that's all for this afternoon...reports are calling!

    And I'm back, now where was I...
    • @taniatorikova gave us a rundown of how she has utilised Facebook groups/pages to her advantage in her classes
      • Having already investigated & seen how this can be done, it was great to see how it had been implemented and managed by a peer
    • @handsdown showed everybody how they could implement a Green Screen - $14.95 from Spotlight (if anyone's interested)
      • If I ever moved to a school that didn't have a Green Room (MacKillop has a green room and functional recording booth), this would be awesome! I wouldn't have to buy that expensive ChromaKey paint! #winning!
    • @adriancamm made my day when he talked about how Portal/Portal 2 could be implemented into the classroom to give students a "real" look at physics at work....
      • I'm now investigating this for our science faculty
      • Plus...it's now got me back playing Portal...bad time of year to start up again but ah well
    • @elearnjones demonstrated the power of Evernote, a powerful cloud file sharing tool that allows you to access your documents on any device...very cool way to having students submit work continuously
      • Looking forward to implementing this at some stage in the near future...again I'll keep you updated!
    • @judithway promoted the @readerscup and spoke of it's value to students today (sorry for the original omission!)
    • @mr_lo_nigro was going to talk about Streaming Software on the iPad, but then decided to change over to the Super Mario Level Editor and how it has engaged his kids
      • Teaching a Video Gaming class last year and about to embark on the process again next semester, it's looking like a very handy tool!
    • @adriancamm was a busy bloke on Saturday, as he then showed us around Quantum Victoria...and may I say...everyone was impressed.
      • They have a number of programs tailored to a range of ages/year levels that cover topics in maths and science that we would never ever think to get across to our students.
      • The drive behind the facility is to empower students with the ability to think about real world problems and design a solution using the available technologies.
      • You'll have to check it out because they have some really cool programs over there that are accessible to a lot of kids. Most of them facilitated by some cool tech like 3D printers, unmanned drones and producing different applications for Xbox 360 Kinect & PS3's.
    It was an awesome couple of hours, and well done to all the presenters. I'm hoping to run a PD session at my school in a similar format, as I think it's a great idea. 2 & 7 minutes isn't long enough for people to be overloaded with information, nor is it long enough to get bored! But it is long enough to spark questions and a drive to implement some of these tools into my own curriculum

    Video highlights of the day can be seen after the jump...http://youtu.be/4gf_wqYGOoo

    Until next time...
    May the Tech Be With You

    Jimmy V

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    App Building 101: From Taking Baby Steps to Graduating Primary School...

    So it's been a crazy couple of weeks, with VCE units wrapping up & starting back up again, exams, working on reports and a hospital visit to top it off. Apologies in not getting a post out sooner...but we move on. Hopefully someone will still be reading this blog...

    As I've mentioned earlier, ICTEV2012 was a watershed moment. I'd been looking at creating an app for a few of my classes, and when selecting the possible workshops that I would visit, @mrrobbo's (thanks once again!) stood out as it sounded like it would provide me a way of doing this. What can I say, the medium was provided! No coding is required either which is awesome if you want to create iOS apps and don't have a Mac.

    This post is going to be talking about the process involved in creating my first (web) app via iBuildApp. There are a number of other app builders out there but for the moment we'll focus on this one.

    My first Web App was the 8 Maroon App. When I showed the students what it could do, they were genuinely excited that they were going to be able to access College event dates, important subject dates, as well as contact myself and another of their teachers, @_tarrynkennedy directly from the App.

    I've since decided to buy myself an Apple Developers Licence so that I can build Native Apps...and rebuilt the Web App as a Native App...it will hopefully go live after the holidays and I'll let you all know when it's in the App Store.

    For those who have been scared to make the leap to using Apps, my recommendation would definitely be to go with Web Apps first, and if you then need the additional functionality, and want to spend $99/year then head over to the Apple website and join the Developers program. Find the app below in the iPhone simulator.

    Using iBuildApp to build a Web App felt like I was taking baby steps into the App Development world. I was able to create a working app within about a half hour! Buying the Apple Developers Licence to start building Native Apps felt like graduating primary school. I do plan on learning to write Xcode and Objective C to write my own iDevice apps (once I get a Mac), but for the time being, iBuildApp will do...hopefully I won't take 6 years to graduate to writing my own Native Apps.

    May the Tech Be With You

    Jimmy V

    How to build your first app in an hour (or less)

    Before you start, you'll obviously need an idea for an app. Whether it be as content delivery alternative, an organisational app or a way for your students to email photos of their work to you, you need the idea first.

    1. Go to the iBuildApp website, and sign up. Doesn't seem that hard yet...right?
    2. When you click Create App, you're given three options:
      • Native Apps (iPhone/Android)
        • Create apps that can be downloaded from the Apple & Android App Stores for iPod/iPhone and Android phones. These apps do not require an data connection to run BUT do require an Apple Developer Licence (iPod/iPhone) or being registered with the Android Maps API (Android phones only). Note that Android tablets aren't supported at this stage.
      • Native iPad
        • Create apps for the iPad that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store. These require an Apple Developer Licence.
      • Web Apps
        • Create apps that can be viewed on any mobile device, irrespective of platform. You can release your apps for free without the need to sign up to any Developer Program.
    3. Select 'Web Apps' and click 'Continue'.

      Don't make the mistake (like I did) of developing a Native App when I intended on making a Web App, so make sure you select the correct option!
    4. Select the TEMPLATE of your choice, and click 'Use It'. You can create your own templates or use one of the custom templates available in the Template Marketplace.
    5. Give your App a name & click 'Create'
    6. Then follow the prompts to fill your App with content.
      • Edit Background: Choose the background image for your App (you can use your own one)
      • Edit Logo Image: Choose the logo image for your App (you need to have your own logo...otherwise you're stuck with the default one from the template)
      • Edit Text: Choose the text that will appear at the top of your App
      • Manage Navigation: Choose the buttons & menu tabs from the template that will be used. You can edit the text descriptions, as well as the button images.
      • Manage Content: This is where you place all the content in your App. It's all pretty self-explanatory and allows you a massive range of options. Note that some functions aren't available to Web Apps, such as taking photos or videos, adding events to the calendar and local notifications.
    7. Once you've populated your App, click 'Complete'. A warning may come up stating that you haven't got enough content in there, but if you've populated it to your hearts content, click 'Continue As Is'.
    8. It's up to you whether you use 24hr time format...
    9. Fill out the details and get yourself a logo (it's pretty easy to find a Creative Commons logo on Google Images...)
    10. You'll then be given the opportunity to distribute your App. Not only are you given the URL, but you're also given a QR code, the HTML code to embed the App into your existing website,as well as  the option to share via Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Google+, etc, etc...
    Congratulations you've just completed building your first Web App. I might write a post later in the future about Native Apps...

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    The Chalkie & The Tech

    Hello again! So soon for my next post you say?

    Thought I would do some promotion for an inspirational and great colleague of mine, @_TarrynKennedy, has been in the blog-o-sphere for a while now and most of you will know her, either personally or via the Twittersphere. She posts about a variety of topics such as education, technology in education, creative work she does with her classes, as well as some inspirational imagery.

    FYI her blog, The Chalkie and The Tech has recently moved from WordPress over to Blogger...so The Chalkie and The Tech can now be found at http://thechalkieandthetech.blogspot.com.au/

    Check it out & follow her on Twitter :)

    May The Tech Be With You!

    Jimmy V

    #ICTEV12 (Extended Version) Pt III

    Before I start Pt III, I'd like to thank all of the presenters & peers (not just the ones mentioned) from #ICTEV12 for the inspiration and re-invigoration that you brought to not only myself but everyone present last Saturday. My head has been buzzing like a bee hive ever since; thoughts have swirled around & collided in a way that might resemble a collision on a NASCAR track - one of those really awesome ones where one car starts a concertina of collisions that are really cool to look at.

    Anyways, sorry for the delay in getting this 3rd (and final) post about #ICTEV12. Been a really hectic week at school since the Conference...I'm sure I'm not the only person in this boat.

    So tonight I'm going to be exploring the concepts, ideas and tech looked at in @MarkOMeara, @MarkPleasance & @mrrobbo's presentations.
    • @MarkOMeara's "Present to Connect"  can be seen after the jump (http://po.st/ipMdXf)
      • Pretext: I heavily use PPT's and Prezi's (predominantly the earlier) to deliver theory to my VCE IT students. Over the past 2 years, I have found that after a while my students have gotten bored with these.
      • Ok, so you've now seen the videos...Design, Construct, Deliver. Three things that need to be done well to connect with our students.
      • So I went into Mark's session thinking "I'm hoping this guy can give me some tips on improving my presentations". Within a few minutes, I had already pinpointed some areas that I fail to focus on with regards to my presentations.
      • While I might Design & Construct my presentations, and spend a few hours (at times) doing this, I rarely spend enough time thinking about the Delivery. Not to mention the over-Construction of my  presenations. Time to reduce the amount of text, and include high quality images in my presentations.
      • I think with the amount of text I place in my presentations, I've used it as a safety barrier in my classes as a means for content delivery. In the next few months (once things quieten down), I'm going to work on transforming all of my existing presentations to appeal and better engage my students. I'll keep you all updated...
    • @MarkPleasance's "Who is the Expert?"
      • Mark went through his school's MacBook Expert Program, which promotes student involvement in troubleshooting basic ICT issues in the classroom.
      • The MBE model that Mark presented covered recruitment, training & the students' role within Sacred Heart, in regards to ICT. I'd love to think that at some point in the next couple of years, (prior to moving to 1:1) we could begin to model our own program similar to Mark's at MacKillop.
    • @mrrobbo's "I'm just a Teacher & I've made an App
      • You can see Jarrod's presentation after the jump...http://youtu.be/dz_qsYgzG4U
      • Jarrod's a PE teacher in Boort, VIC and has used a range of online App Builders, such as iBuildApp, BuzzTouch among others, to create apps for his students and peers. He demonstrated how easy it was to create these apps with no programming knowledge required!
      • Only the week previous, @_TarrynKennedy and myself were talking about creating apps for our mutual classes. Since Jarrod's presentation, we've started thinking about all sorts of apps for a number of different purposes at MacK.
      • We'll keep you updated with some of the apps that we come up with in the next few weeks/months and I'll present a few of these app builder tools in their own little snapshot posts over the next few weeks as well.
    Keep inspiring, stay sane & enjoy yourselves...May The Tech Be With You

    Jimmy V