Collaborate, Create, & Share

Let’s play, create, and share in the cloud! If I would have announced that to my students at the start of class just 5 years ago, I more than likely would have experienced complete silence in the room or may have heard murmurs of “What is she talking about? This is a Web Programming class not an Astronomy class.”

While creating a 21st century lesson plan this week, I looked to Renee Hobbs’ (2011) list of “five core competencies as fundamental literacy practices: Access, Analyze, Create, Reflect, and Act” to help me develop a lesson for my Introduction to Basic Web Programming course.

I chose to use a web-based front end development code editor and playground environment in the cloud called CodePen to acclimate students to using a programming technique called pair programming. In addition to learning about pair programming and using a web-based tool to develop a simple web page, the students will share their web page in the form of a “Pen” within a Google+ virtual community created specifically for the course and then discuss and evaluate each team’s work within a virtual environment.

Google+ Logo

CodePen is a playground for the front end web.

As I created the 21st century lesson plan for this week, John Seely Brown’s statement from “The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from JSB’s Keynote at DML2012)” played over and over in my mind: “As we move into the 21st century, we have to completely rethink the work scape and the learning scape.”  In addition to Brown’s statement, I also decided to place emphasis on two of the five core competencies described by Hobbs (2011): Access and Act. I want my students to use CodePen for problem solving as well as self-expression (Hobbs, 2011, p. 16). The students as a team, will choose a topic of their choice and create content (self-expression) to include in the basic web page that they are developing (problem solving) using CodePen (web technology) and sharing within a Google+ virtual community (web technology). I want the students to gain the experience of using web technology  to”rethink the learning scape” as Brown (2012) spoke of in his Keynote at DML2012.

In addition, one of Hobbs’ critical questions perfectly aligns with teaching the students the concept of pair programming. Hobbs asks the question “Do they recognize how to leverage the strengths of others to accomplish a common goal?” (Hobbs, 2011, p. 19). This encompasses the whole idea of pair programming! In pair programming, each member has their own strengths that they bring to the table and as a team, they work together to “accomplish a common goal” (Hobbs, 2011, p. 19).

The utilization of multiple web technologies to perform problem-solving tasks and demonstrate self-expression while “leveraging the strengths of others to accomplish a common goal” (Hobbs, 2011, p. 19), positions the Collaborate, Create, & Share lesson nicely into the realm of 21st century learning.

References

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Brown, John S. (2012). The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from JSB’s Keynote at DML2012) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM&feature=youtu.be

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Apps on Apple

To learn how to create an app for iOS, I started my journey on the Apple Developer website with the “Start Developing iOS Apps (Swift)” online tutorial. Why not begin with the company that actually developed the IDE and programming language (Xcode and Swift)?

The app within the online tutorial is a FoodTracker app. This app allows the user to add an image of a meal (or restaurant), use a rating system to rate the meal, and provides the basic functionality of editing, adding, and deleting data. Pretty cool stuff!

I encountered some errors while progressing through the tutorial and accessed Google to find explanations of the errors and locate solutions. This was successful most of the time. Thankfully the tutorial provided a lot of screen shots and thoroughly explained things along the way. One of the great things about online tutorials is that you can refer back to a particular section if needed. And in my case, it was needed. My errors occurred when I tried to be fancy and venture out on my own. Quickly I realized that since this was completely new to me, I had better stick to the plan that Apple provided.

After completing the FoodTracker app, it was now time to deploy the app to my phone. During the creation process, I used the built-in Simulator in Xcode, but it’s always best to test on the actual device. The tutorial didn’t have directions for this, so I turned to Google once again. I came across a great resource Launching Your App on Devices and voila! But it wasn’t that easy, sort of. I ran into a few setup errors and it was back to Google. I found another great resource on the stackoverflow discussion forum that solved my issue. Once I corrected the errors, my iPhone connected, and all was well!

I wanted to extend my journey, so I located a fantastic 17-episode series on YouTube called “How To Make an iPhone App with No Programming Experience”. I strictly used YouTube for my second app based on the popular card game “War”. I added a twist to my app and created it with a baseball theme (you think I would have learned my lesson about trying to be fancy). While progressing through the videos, I realized how much I had learned from the online tutorial and how the YouTube videos were reinforcing skills as well as teaching new techniques and concepts. The combination of the two made for a rewarding learning experience…well worth the extended journey.

Both resources that I used to learn how to create an iOS app played an important role in the overall learning process. Each resource complemented each other. I made errors along the way and had to re-watch videos and re-read sections of the online tutorials, but that’s part of the learning process and I embraced it. When I ran into a “sticky” part, I jumped to Google in search of answers and solutions. One of the challenges that I did encounter, aside from learning a new IDE and programming language, was finding the additional time to sit down and learn something new. Once I built time into my schedule to accommodate learning a new skill, I was able to better focus on the task at hand.

Before and after screen shots of the Baseball War Game app.
Before and after screen shots of the Baseball War Game app.

I do have a few bugs in my Baseball War Game app that I will try and resolve over the next week (fingers crossed). So, it’s back to watching YouTube, searching help forums, and Google of course.

Getting things done!

I added two new tools to my professional workflow tool belt this week: Wunderlist and Google Bookmarks.

I normally use a very “low tech” option to manage my daily “to-do” items: paper and pencil. Although this works fairly well for me most of the time, I often end up with a lot of sticky notes or pieces of paper, I can only access the list at home, and sometimes the list gets misplaced. Enter Wunderlist, a simple task management tool“. This is a very easy-to-use tool that can be accessed through a web browser or a mobile app. I installed it on my phone, tablet, and also installed the plugin for the web browsers that I use on my other computers.

I started using Wunderlist this week, took a few minutes to create my “to-do” items, categorized things, and was good to go. Throughout the day whenever something pops into my head that I need to do, I add it to Wunderlist and go on with my day. Almost immediately after adding it to my list, I felt a sense of relief and best of all, no more sticky notes! Even more relief came when I completed a task and it was removed from the list. Love the “sound” of getting something done!

Wunderlist

I have bookmarks galore among the various browsers that I use and no two lists are the same. I am now using Google Bookmarks as a repository for my bookmarks. You can easily had a bookmarklet to the bookmarks bar in your browser and when you find a resource you want to bookmark, just click the bookmarklet and it adds it to the Google Bookmarks repository. Super easy to use but you do need a Google account. I already used it multiple times. You can add labels and notes to the bookmark for your own use, which is a really nice organizational feature.
googlebookmarkslist

I would definitely recommend both Wunderlist and Google Bookmarks. Both tools are free, user-friendly, convenient, and mobile friendly!