Tag Archives: Web app

Why I am excited about technology as a teacher.

I will acknowledge right off the bat that I know that I have a unique situation with my position at ESU 10, and that the greatest benefit I have is time. The second benefit is that I am surrounded by knowledgeable colleagues that are patient with me as I present some grand ideas.

And the grandest idea I have is that technology can empower teachers.  I think technology can strengthen what teachers do best: teach.

Before I talk about the technology, let me address a deep philosophy of a classroom.  Teachers are experts.  Experts in many different fields to handle a classroom, but especially in their subject.  But most of the time teachers have to rely on a textbook, a book of worksheets and assessments. Let alone the idea of standardized testing (that will be another blog).  These tools are good tools, and many teachers fuse their expertise with these options to provide their students great lessons.

But what if the teacher produced more of the tools for their classroom?  What if teachers actually got to showcase their expertise?  What if teachers were empowered to do what they love? To teach.  Imagine the energy and impact this would have on the students, the teacher, the school as a whole. Empowering.

Courtesy of Centura Student Angelica

One of the ways this can happen is the new iBook Author, from Apple, which allows you to create digital interactive textbooks. To be honest, this application is easy to use.  The templates range from basic design to more creative layouts, but all one has to do is type and drag-and-drop files.  Teachers can add their presentations right to a page.  There is a question widget for student review and other cool options.  Teachers can write their own textbooks.

Another interesting approach is web app development.  What do students have with them at all times? Right…their cell phones. I know that they are not all smart phones, but more and more are.  But a web app is designed to work on a web browser and as an app, so teachers can create content that bridges that gap.  And it is getting easier to create web apps, whether you know how to program or not. iWebKit is a framework that I used to create my first study app for the book The Natural.  You do need to know some basic programing but much of the time is spent on creating content because the code is provided.  Even if you don’t know any programing, services like Wix Mobile allows you to create web apps with no coding.

Technology can empower teachers to produce more of the content of their classroom.  Technology can change the dynamics of the role of a teacher back to what teachers love to do: teach.

I know this is a grand idea.  For this to happen teachers need time, support, and the technology in their classroom.  But I would rather struggle toward a grand idea then stay in place and wonder what could have been.  And I am always willing to help if I can, because any struggle is easier together.

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What I learned from “taking” my own class.


Courtesy of Centura Student Angelica

For the past month or so the TECHS class has been working with HTML, CSS and Java. As a final product, the students will produce a simple slideshow web app.  Programing is just out of my expertise, I learned Pascal in high school.  But, my job has sparked ideas for different apps for education.  So, I have been taking the class too.  And I reached a level of knowledge that I took the T3 Workshop and remixed it as a web app (See the Web App page).

But the process has reinforced a few ideas I have about education.

First, 50 minutes a day is not a way to learn something.  I spent hours studying code, experimenting with code, and researching code.  On Friday, I spent a couple of solid hours working with my app idea.  I struggled. I got frustrated. I accomplished small steps and had light bulb moments.  It was awesome.  But it took time, and high school is not set up for this process. Both time and frustration.  Growth comes from tension, from having the edges of our abilities and thoughts challenged.

Courtesy of Centura Student Angelica

Second, I needed help from co-workers.  I might have spent more time in the network room than my office working out my problems.  And when I needed help, the guys were there.  Writing and editing code is a lot like old school grammar, you have to pay attention to all kinds of writing errors, from capitalization to unwanted string information.  There was one situation that took a third set of eyes to see the problem, and it was a simple problem.  They network guys were my teachers, but I presented them with what I had done and we worked from there.  Learning is a relationship.  Sharing, guiding, and helping work with and through what ever the lesson may be.

Third, writing code is still above my head, but I am getting better.  And I am excited to see my ideas meet a real outcome.  What gives our education meaning is that fusion of ideas and reality.  That age old question, “Why do I need to know this?” At times lessons are steps to future goals and we have to build that foundation.  But do we give students an avenue to take their learning to a level that affects the world around them? To show them the power behind what they are learning?

I enjoyed being a student, and can’t wait to share what I learned with my students.

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