iPad rollout Phase I: #FAIL

Epic Fail. Let’s consider this our Agile retrospective. A few things went right, but mostly things went wrong.

What went wrong?
– The first iPad launch for Los Angeles (see previous post here) school districts cost $1 billion dollars. Each individual tablet given to each student costs way more than retail price, $678 to be exact. With the Chromebooks costing roughly $250, you can buy two laptops for that price.

– Professional development: training and support for students, teachers and parents was an afterthought, leading to the failure of this launch. You cannot possibly deploy a new product without offering training (and follow-up support) for users, especially the relative size of this audience.

– Let’s give these students the tools they need to become well rounded individuals. Yes that means harnessing creativity and encouraging STEAM exploration. And yes this means giving them a device with a keyboard. Writing skills (even if that includes QWERTY) on the back burner, who would have thought?

What went right?
Isn’t it obvious? Hopefully with this deployment a few kids learned something aside from phishing for unapproved content. The main goal was delivered: technology supplementing instruction for every student.


Recycled Art

At the deCordova Sculpture Park installations are built with their natural environment in mind. The landscape and industrial materials like rebar, bricks, aluminum, and glass are incorporated into the designs. Most notably set on its sixty acre property is Untitled.


Composed of broken bricks and wrapped steel, this sculpture signifies the deconstruction of civilization. The Indian artist said his work “addresses the constant cycle of building-destroying-rebuilding and explores the relationship of rural and urban life where technology, globalization and materialism collide.”

What if we took the same idea of using recycled items and turned them into functional pieces of art? What would these creations look like?

Need a notepad?


How about a thumb drive?


Do you fancy a picture frame?


Or a hanging key hook?


These Steampunk artists created collages from USB ports, motherboards and memory chips


British artist Susan Stockwell even constructed an entire map of recycled motherboards


Frankly who knew old computer parts were art? This would be a great STEAM project to learn the insides of a computer and a great way to introduce art appreciation.

Math in the Realworld

Do you remember math class in middle school or how about high school? I remember sitting attentively, yet struggling even in college to make sense of these difficult mathematical questions, thinking how can I relate to this problem in order to solve it. This was Introduction to IT and I had no idea why I had to learn amortization tables in excel as a creative writing major.

I believe content developers struggle to find suitable assessment questions and material that not only is relevant, but engaging and invokes thought. Learning should be fun (ignore reference to corny cliché) and encourage students to explore other avenues with math and science backgrounds. Prime example is the budding interest to get children (and especially girls) involved in STEM or STEAM deciplines. For example, computer programming, video game development, robotics, and anything Minecraft.

Mathematics should address problem solving in the realworld. Real World Math, a free website presents lesson plans for teaching with Google Maps. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego just got a whole lot better. Educators can use Google Maps to discuss distance formulas from point A to B, enhance geography lessons with satellite images and real-time street views, and plan travel adventures, navigating through twists and turns of Google traffic and subway lines.

What are some other tools that help make math fun and meaningful in and out of the classroom?

Tools for Visual Learning Part II

Ideum is a NM company interested in HCI (Human Computer Interaction) and has developed multitouch software both as a SDK and touch products; walls and tables for consumers. They even developed their own markup language to author multitouch software.


Their interactive displays are great tools in children’s museums, providing accessible ways to view exhibits, plan an adventure or enhance the overall experience. Museums will broaden their audience engaging visitors with disabilities.

Ideum also cruises the museum circuit and next month will be promoting their Creating Museum Media for Everyone (CMME) online community project at ASTC.

Photo Credit: Pinterest Ideum

Don’t just Transform, but Revolutionize Education

A manifesto of sorts. A call for change…

What is wrong with education today? There is not enough personalized instruction. We need better data to drive scalable solutions which means results in the classroom. We need predictive analytics asking people how they learn best and software designed to progress with its users. Let’s disrupt the linear vision of how students learn and introduce different modes.

Better data
Correlations. Frequencies. Algorithms — I was never good at math. Ultimately, data analytics should help us make informed decisions that propose change.

Break silos
It’s not just about alleviating a ten-pound backpack with a ten ounce tablet, but breaking common misconceptions of the intersection of education and technology. Let’s not pigeonhole ourselves into thinking curriculum should be delivered one way.

Deliver dynamic solutions
I use the term ‘solution’ loosely in trying to prove the point that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning. Through psychometrics and analysis, deliverables should be adaptable to a user’s needs. We should identify issues at the forefront, instead of making them an afterthought. 

Here is a thought:

Pierson Labs/Declara’s Ramona Pierson (also a SXSW 2014 panel electee) pushes mass production to mass customization with big-data education models.  Her team is developing an algorithm to map the learning methods of teachers with the needs of the classroom, addressing a student’s comprehension in realtime.

Creativity abounds with SXSWedu 2014


Who would like to buy me tickets to SXSWedu in Austin? Going once, twice, three —

SXSW looks like an amazing festival, held every spring featuring film, interactive, music and conferences with panels of speakers, workshops, Meetup events and a trade show. There is also SXSWedu, an expo for educational innovation, SXSWeco for those environmental conservationists and SXSW V2V for techie startups on the prowl.

This year’s conference has a few discussions I’m interested in:

Permission Engines: Facilitating Creativity (SXSWinteractive)
What do Googlers and Burning Man have in common? Find out here (hint: it’s in the title)

STEM Challenges for Digital Citizens
Amazed by Amplify, I’d definitely drop in.

Apple for Teacher: Education Ripe for Disruption
This interview may make you redefine the status quo.
Just think of the opportunities we can unlock by making education as addictive as a video game.

iStories: Teaching with Social Video Self-Modeling
Learn how to demonstrate a concept, create step-by-step instructions and showcase prompt as a student video with social stories.

Rethinking Teaching and Learning: Competency-based
Every discussion poses questions; some pertinent like these.
What system changes must be made for students to have coherent and goal focused educational experiences?

Interactive Chocolate
Because everyone loves chocolate.

Tickets may be a stretch and I’ll try to make it there at least in spirit. Until then I’ll seek out PanelPicker to vote for the content I want to see (whether as a virtual attendee or a real one).

Keeping Up with Nolan Bushnell

I must admit I had to Google Nolan Bushnell. As a product of the eighties, yes I am familiar with the ancient gameboy predecessor, Atari. But I did not know this guy also founded Chuck E. Cheeses, you know, that fast food chain with the obnoxious lifesize rat parading around playing arcade games with overactive children. I digress…

Bushnell’s newest company, BrainRush, acquired in 2012 is set to release a full new platform this fall. Coincidentally an educational platform, BrainRush combines learning video games with encyclopedia-like questions (PONG meets Wikipedia). Users can learn new material from math and science to French and the pragmatics of Football, create video games with templates and editing tools, and lead classroom discussions as an educator, monitoring in-class progress and other metrics. The company coins its software as new technology called BrainRush Adaptive Practice™ (So it must be good if they decided to trademark it, right?).

Adaptive Practice is really just an interactive personalized online gaming system designed to challenge you throughout the learning process with rapidly presenting increasingly difficult questions. According to BrainRush, lessons enable you to think about what you need to learn and your actions tell the software how well you understand a concept.

Can any current users offer an opinion of BrainRush’s Adaptive Practice method?