PoP – Prototyping

I focused my prototyping efforts on three separate areas: connecting students to useful resources at the college via their online classroom, video code demonstration, and online code collaboration.

Connecting Students to Resources

During an email conversation with the director of the center for teaching and learning at the college, a couple of very useful resources were shared with me. One of the resources was an idea that presented itself during one of my brainstorming sessions only to find out that something very similar had been implemented into all of the online classrooms across the college. I won’t include my own prototype of the student resources area because to both my pleasure and amazement, it already came to fruition! I thought I would share a screenshot of the resources area since it was originally part of my problem of practice. Even though I didn’t implement a student resources area into my online classrooms (because it’s already there now), this is validation for me and confirms that I was on the right path with linking students to resources at the college.

A student resources link is located within the left-side toolbar area. When the link is selected, the user is taken to a Student Resources page within Canvas (the college’s LMS) where a list of available resources at the college is displayed. The student can click on any of the icons with the resources page and they will be connected to the appropriate area within the college’s website for additional contact information. Kudos to the Center for Teaching and Learning department at the college!

Student Resources Link within the college Canvas LMS.
Video Demonstration

The next brainstorming idea that I prototyped for my online classroom was a video demonstration of one of the Hands-On Practice exercises in the course textbook. One of the assignments during the first week of class is to create a simple course homepage using HTML. The video demonstrates the process of creating a web page along with explanations of some of the basic HTML elements that are used within most every web page. A useful online resource is shared at the end of the demonstration. My intentions are to upload the videos to YouTube and then create a link to the YouTube video from within the online classroom. For the purpose of this prototype, you can view the YouTube video below or watch it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/bx30gK5Ow4U.

 

Online Code Collaboration in Real-Time

The final brainstorming idea that I decided to prototype was the use of a free, online code editor that allows people to engage in collaborative coding in real-time. The tool I chose was Collabedit. Collabedit works directly within your web browser, no software or installation is needed. It’s also cross-platform compatible so Mac, Linux, and Windows users can collaborate with each other directly within their web browser. This tool would provide me with a way to provide online assistance to students who are having issues with their code or a way to do a quick lesson or coding explanation.

I prototyped a tutorial-type document for using Collabedit in PDF format. This PDF document contains some basic information along with a number of screenshots that visually displays the interface and process. I plan on providing a link to the Collabedit Tutorial within my online classroom in an existing module that is titled “Instructional Documents & Resources” so the students can easily download and review the document. I will direct the students to this document before the start of a Collabedit session so they have an idea of how the tool works and also how to create their own session and invite collaborators to the session. I’m hoping that with continued use in the online classroom, the tool will create a very positive, supportive, and useful learning experience for the students.

You can view the Collabedit Tutorial document here.

The prototyping process was enlightening. It allowed me to take an idea and create a user experience from that idea. The hardest thing for me during the prototyping process was trying not to refine it too much. I have a tendency to rework a project until it’s perfect and I will not display it until has been refined. I had to keep reminding myself that it’s a prototype, not the final product. What I found extremely beneficial, was the amount that I learned about Collabedit, the online collaboration tool, while creating a tutorial PDF for the students. By actually walking through its features and using the tool, I now feel more comfortable with using it as a way to support and assist students in my online classes. I’m really excited to try this out with my students and get their feedback. It was a prime example of learning by doing!

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A “Tangible” Idea

Our Connected World…

Our connected world sketch.I decided to take the idea of “our connected world” and transform that idea into something both visual and physical – turning the intangible into something tangible so to speak. I made a smiley face out of some paper that I had lying around my house (putting my childhood skills to use) to represent a person at the center of a connected world. I used orange yarn to create a circle and on that circle resides a series of objects/devices that connect to each other either directly or indirectly. The blue yarn extending from each object/device connects the person to that object/device. Essentially, everything is connected! I work with technology on a daily basis so the idea of always being connected to something or someone is a reality that is very much present in today’s world.

The Connected World at my Home!

The process of taking an idea and transforming into a physical form was enlightening simply because I found it extremely easy to find items in my house that are part of a “connected world” in some way, shape, or form. I used 13 items to visually display the idea, but I could have easily found many additional items around my house. As I added an object to my “connected world” circle, I thought about how it actually played a role in the connection. For example, my Bose portable speaker is Bluetooth enabled which connects to the other Bluetooth devices in my house and the Xbox controller connects to my GoPiGo robot, which is also connected via Bluetooth to my computer(s) and Raspberry Pi. It’s amazing!

I never really thought about how connected these objects really were to each other and to me until bringing the idea to physical “life”. I think that when an idea becomes tangible, it allows you to see things and experience them in a different way. I really enjoyed this experience, it allowed me to visually see and experience the connections of the world of technology right inside my home.

P.Q. & C.Q. – “Live the questions NOW.”

The Journey

Looking back to the beginning of this course, we were asked a series of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” type of questions, questions that made me stop and really think about my answers. Little did I know that that type of questioning was laying the ground work for the entire course and what was to follow would prove to be a very engaging and enlightening experience. A quote by David McCullough from Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas immediately resonated with me:

“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view. Climb is to you can see the world, not so the world can see you”  (Berger, 2012, p. 191).

So often we are more concerned with the “prize” at the end that we don’t enjoy the journey.

Questioning your own life can be scary but it can also be exciting. Berger (2012) points out that while you’re questioning your own life, don’t only look for what’s missing also look for what’s there via “appreciative inquiry”. Berger (2012) explains that “the main premise of appreciative inquiry is that positive questions, focusing on strengths and assets, tend to yield more effective result than negative questions focusing on problems or deficits” (p. 190). Bottom line, focusing on what is missing and what we don’t have elicits negative feelings that can block progress. Happiness researcher Tal Ben-Shahar suggests to “cultivate the habit of gratitude” as “gratitude is the shortcut to happiness” (pp. 190-191).

Technology, Passions, & Curiosities

In the ever changing world of technology where one of the few constants is change, being knowledgeable and knowing your stuff aren’t the only skills that are going to land you a job or make you efficient in your field. As Thomas Friedland (2013) so appropriately states, “We are a world that taken us from connected to hyperconnected”, just look around next time you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or walk into a coffee shop – people are glued to their electronic devices, technology is all around us.

Just being good with technology isn’t enough but add passion and curiosity to the mix and you create a recipe for success. pqandcqinfographicWhat is important to you? What are you passionate about? What are you curious about?  I asked myself those fundamental questions not only how they relate to my teaching career but also how they relate to my life in general. I answered those questions and visualized them in an infographic that depicts my P.Q. (passion quotient) and my C.Q. (curiosity quotient) as Friedland wrote about.

My passions in life and my career include:

  • Health & Well Being
  • Creativity
  • Learning
  • Technology

My curiosities include:

  • How can I bring project-based learning to the classroom and make learning more meaningful?
  • How can continuing to expand my PLN online and offline help with change in the classroom?
  • How do I encourage students to ask the “tough questions”?
  • How can technology be used to enhance and bring excitement to learning?

Ask the questions and never stop questioning.

I’m enjoying the educational and personal journey I’m on, embracing the challenges and “beholding the view”, living my passions, exploring my curiosities, embracing technology, and in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”

References:

Ben-Sharer, T. (2012, April). Five Ways to Become Happier Today. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/fLhpyzVTc8A
Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breathrough Ideas. New York City, NY: Bloomsbury USA.
Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q.. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0
McCullough, D. (2012, June). You Are Not Special Commencement Speech from Wellesley High School. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/_lfxYhtf8o4
Rainer Maria Rilke > Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7906.Rainer_Maria_Rilke