Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Different Kind of Testing

Let the world determine the value of a student's work effort. Perhaps we shelter students too much within an academic bubble. Rubrics and multiple choice evaluations have their place but what if we allowed the world to share an opinion of each student's effort?
Evaluation is the second highest order of thinking in Bloom's Taxonomy. Students need to develop the skill of reflection and a critical eye towards their own work. But it is often difficult to see your own work from another's perspective. And if the only feedback is from a teacher, that evaluation can be easily dismissed.
That's why I was excited when a friend directed me to The Click Test and the Five Second Test. Brought to us by Usabilityhub, they provide an extremely easy method for evaluating web site design through real world testing.
I plan to have my Web Design class utilize the site to test out their own site designs. Not only is the feedback they receive valuable, but because the free version is "paid" by taking tests. That way they will gain a better understanding of how users see and understand web designs too.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Javascript Envy

Build a Video Game - Come Learn to Program!
I'm just a little bit jealous of my son today. He's spending the entire day at Purdue learning to program games in Javascript for web browser application. Hopefully he comes back with lots of notes so we can continue building games. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Add My Ad

Music ManEmbed this animation on your website. Copy paste the code below:

This was an exercise for Web Design class. The challenge was to not only create a flash banner ad but make the html code available to anyone so that it could be added to any website. Student examples:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who Put Them In Charge?

This article came across my inbox today. Two big red flags: 1) when did kids get to decide educational objectives and 2) they couldn't handle it.
Sure kids want digital learning, but few are willing to put the time and effort into developing the content. Most are consumer sponges, taking from the web but never contributing serious or meaningful content. When a kid says collaboration, they usually are looking for a free ride on someone else's data.
But another problem is that there are few students truly capable of leveraging the web as a learning tool. Really? Use the game console for WORK?! Most of the requests to use my computer lab by students outside of my class is for a project that is due now and their regular digital channels have failed them. That's when they come to me, looking for a fix to their problem.
Where are the problem solvers? Where are the innovators? The digital natives are still storing their important documents as email attachments! And don't even ask about downloading those photos off their iPhones - they have no clue how to do that.
That's just my second concern, the first is even more appalling. Since when did the adults decide it was a good idea to let the kids decide what sort of education is best for them? Really? Leave any kid to make their own dinner and provided they know how, it more than likely won't be healthy (mine included). It's not in a child's nature to know or desire what is the best for them with a long term view in mind. We are all selfish by nature.
Come on adults! Buck up, and step up to the plate. Quit trying to make life easier for the next generation. They won't break and despite your fears, they won't hate you forever. In fact, they just might love you (some day) for holding them to a standard.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Raising The Curtain

This year I have the good fortune to actually do the very same things that I'm teaching: I'm developing the school website and teaching web design. Sometimes there is no substitute for the school of hard knocks.
That's why I will usually share the challenges and excitement of working on a "live" site with the class. I like to think it gives the academics more of a reality. That being said, I've developed two pages over the last two days.
Yesterday, following a lesson on Flash motion tweening and layering, I realized that I could create a quick Flash movie to promote the upcoming musical. It's also nice that the male lead for the production is in my class.
I grabbed the camera and took a few snapshots of the stage curtain. After cropping and touching it up in Fireworks, I added the graphic and some text in Flash with a simple motion tween. The result was the curtain rising and falling on the production dates.
After talking with the kids, we had several great ideas to expand the animation but quickly realized it may become too much. That's a really important concept to grasp. You can have too much of a good thing.
Another concept I stressed was that even though it took me only 90 minutes from concept to completion, they would not be able to work as quickly. It takes practice and time to perform skills at a higher level. I really think it's important for kids to see the application of their education, beyond the grind of books and tests.