Monday, September 10, 2012

Tech Lead Projects

I was recently asked by a friend what projects I'm working on as Tech Lead. Really, I'm just doing random things... reading whatever comes along the blog roll and Twitter feeds.  I do have a few pet projects going on.  I was recently reminded the need to focus my attention on just a few things for more efficient production, so I'm whittling this down into three categories.

Front Burner: (Things I need to work on now.)

  1. Course Selection: I've written about this briefly in the past. My principal put me on a quest to find out what web tools other schools use to receive course requests from students and parents. Funny how I've confused people on this question. They think I'm talking about distance learning or online classes. In reality, I'm looking for a web tool for students to sign up for courses for the next school year. So far, I've contacted a number of schools and asked them what they use. I've had too few responses to get a read on a good answer. Till then, here's a Google doc I'm working on with my research. Feel free to make comments on it if you want. 
  2. Showbie: Last year, we started asking the same questions a lot of other people were asking.  How do we collect, grade, comment on, and return student work on the iPads without littering our inboxes?  It seemed that no one had the answer, or at least they weren't sharing it with me.  Then along came Showbie.  Showbie is a web site and app, where teachers can upload an assignment file, students can turn work in, teachers can make comments (with text or voice), and give it back to the kids... without publicizing their grades or comments.  Sweet!  The only problem at this point is that they only play nice with apps that use WebDAV.   Most of the apps we use are not in that category.  Fortunately, they are working to also create ways to turn in apps that use web links.  Until then, we can only sit and wait.  I do have the green light to use it once they align with the apps we're using.  Incidentally, these guys are great to work with and did a lot of digging to answer my questions.  I love working with app developers!

Coleman Stove: (Things I'm working on for my own classroom.)

Kid Blog: I'm using Kid Blog in my math classes this year as a math journal, complete with Educreations presentations. I've hit some technical difficulties, which wouldn't be so difficult if I could convince my 5th graders to follow directions. :) Otherwise, it's going to be a great project! I'm currently in e-convesations with the Kid Blog and Educreations people to help make it work best.  I love that they are also conversing with each other to make my life easier.

Back Burner: (Things I want to do, but I'm awaiting approval on.)

  1. GAFE: I am really interested in using Google Apps for Education. I've converted myself, using Office as little as possible. I love how my docs can easily be linked to my web site for parent and student access. I now need to convince my principal to start with the students. Honestly, I think she is swamped with her new position and attempt to unite our elementary and high school divisions to be too concerned about this one.  We've talked at length about GAFE and attended a conference about it together last spring.  She loves it too and we'll get moving soon. Till then... I need to put my focus elsewhere.  In the meantime, read this great article from my friend Jon.
  2. Digital Footprint: We are a private school. Our very existence depends on tuition dollars and donations. I got this crazy idea that using social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and blogs will only help bring about public awareness of our school and share our vision with people in our community and far away.  Used correctly, we could build community online, which is where so many people can be found. Ironically, I'm learning a lot from a former student who now is the director of social media at a church in Chicago.  The things he is learning about social media and church can certainly be applied to our private school.  Now, to convince my principal it's a good idea. Then, we can get started.  (Look here for an article on YouTube and here for an article on Instagram.)
How are you focusing your technology research?

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