Category Archives: Tools

Well designed and useful educational tools

Past, Present, and Future

The following is in response to a task I received asking for two experiences I had with educational technology in the past, one in the present, and one possible future scenario:

Fourth Grade Presentation
Technology: Tape recorder, stock photo slides, and carousel slide projector
Topic: Africa
Method: Describe stock photo slides on tape using my script. Say, “please advance to the next slide” as opposed to using a tone for some reason I can’t explain.

This was an imitation of other presentation tools that were common at the time and I wanted to make one myself. I look back on it with a little embarrassment, not that it wasn’t that good or bad, but a (female) friend who I admired made fun of me about it and I associate that with this project.

I learned how to put together media to inform and likely learned things about Africa I didn’t know before.

High School Sophomore
Year: 1975
Technology: DEC Model 33 ASR Teletype Computer
Topic: Basic BASIC
Method: Free exploration with text and tutor.

I lived in a wealthy town outside of Boston. We had all the toys. DEC may have donated the machine. It was my first opportunity to play with a computer and I liked it. As I look back I think it was one of the few times in high school that I felt pretty smart about something. If my personal/family life at that point hadn’t been so chaotic I may well have explored this further and been more comfortable using computers in college. I remember there being a key marked “X” with an up arrow next to it. Somehow I impressed my teacher that I figured out what it did (created an exponent) and he told me so. Later, in 1986, I used the first computer that really interested me and became a self-taught user.

I learned to use a computer in a non-threatening constructive way. Perhaps that carried over into my educational future. As an aside, both of these stories, boiled to their essence, reiterate the importance of people being nice to each other in school. It makes a difference.

Graduate Student
Year: 2016
Technology: WordPress 4.6
Topic: Personal Professional Development
Method: Reflection of learning, curating of resources, sharing information, and promotion of self as technology educator.

Throughout 2016 I have been working on learning how to use WordPress well. I first used it solely as a place to hold some of my assignments and blog posts and then I started finding ways to use it more fully. In the past weeks I have brought together two separate WP sites and am hosting one on my own domain. It has been a remarkable experience for a few reasons. I now can create a website without using an HTML editor, but can still use some of my html and css skills and can easily recreate what I have done for someone else in a style of their own choosing. I’m also pleased with the inherent review of all the work I’ve done this year. Categorizing the work, uploading videos and graphics, and documenting my processes has acted as a personal summative assessment of the work I’ve done. The site that I created is quite representative and I feel good about sharing it to further my professional standing and keep track of my resources.

Father of Graduate Student
Year: 2028
Technology: VR v.6 & HaloClass v.2.1
Topic: Dairy Herd Management – Dairy Genetics and Economic Analysis
Method: Biweekly class meets online using wholly representative avatars in a simulated classroom environment.

My daughter is attending a graduate program in which she collaborates with all of her classmates, all from agricultural schools around the world chosen for their specific ability and interest. They meet on a regular basis, twice a week, in a simulated classroom. All of the tools needed are at hand virtually and are available in both old school VR v.6 and in holographic 3D using HaloClass v.2.2. The term blended classroom has become antiquated. My daughter occasionally asks questions of what it was like to go to a graduate school in which one traveled, met face to face, and used something, embarrassingly enough, called Moodle and then laughs.

Makerspace – Gender and “Ability”

Coincidentally, I was given two different assignments in two different classes and they merged:

Caleb was showing a friend’s makerspace and Will asked us to take on a theoretical instructional design project incorporating makerspace using the Dick and Carey model.

Jaymes Dec at the Marymount School for Girls in New York City:

This was the theoretical:

“For this case, small school (K-12 or higher ed – you decide). 25 teachers (1 of which is an Ed Tech Specialist), 8 admin, 250 students. Admin wants to use a tech grant to jump on adopting this VR technology into the school’s makerspace. The problem is, the makerspace has not been well defined and is lightly used. There is no real ownership. Additionally, admin wants to make sure this device is not just a novelty. They believe that if it was used properly, students would be able to effective use the device to improve their writing, math and science skills. Your charge is to develop an implementation plan for your school that captures your administration’s excitement about VR and its relevance in education.”

Adding to the coincidence is that I’ve been thinking about gender issues in the tech ed arena again, and wonder if we, as a group working on the case study, should have added anything to explicitly address issues related to inequality in tech. In the video above Caleb’s friend, Jaymes Dec, made a point about the students in one winning project saying, “They’re great kids, but academically…” which is also a type of bias that teachers in the tech ed need to stay aware of. It’s unclear what his thinking was completely, but essentially I believe his point is that makerspaces should be open and welcoming in every way possible.

Beyond creating a level playing for all genders in technology education and business is also the issue of neurodiversity and what people with talent and challenge bring to the digital and maker world and how to do that in equitable and encouraging fashion. There seems to be so much room for so many different types of people in this space and as an educator its becoming increasingly clear how important it is for me to explore these issues more deeply and not wonder whether I should be inclusive after the fact.

Two Website Access Log Visualizations: Normal Load v. DDoS

Yesterday’s DDoS attack brought me the opportunity to see two different web access log visualizations – one under DDoS attack (VideoLAN 4/23/16) and one running normally. They are, obviously, stunningly different. The visualization of a server running smoothly is quite compelling and beautiful in its way – the attacked server is compelling in its own way, but unsettling in appearance. Normal load is presented first:

Audio – Hello World

Yes, it's a good idea to read the manual, no matter how smart you think you are.

Yes, it’s a good idea to read the manual, no matter how smart you think you are.

This week I’m playing with audio. I borrowed some equipment from school: I got an audio-technica ATR6550 shotgun microphone, a Roland Edirol R-09 MP3 voice recorder, and an audio-technica Pro 88W/T Wireless VHS microphone set-up which didn’t work for me and gave up using. I also fooled around with some applications for my iPhone. I settled on TapMedia’s Recorder and the free version of LiveBird Technologies’ Voice Recorder.

The Edirol recorder worked fine. I had to learn how to use the menu system to format my SD card and had trouble with the powered mic setting as the user’s manual steered me wrong here and there, but I was able to use it successfully. Exporting the files was painless.

The Roland R-09 Edirol is, at times, inappropriately judgmental.

The Roland R-09 Edirol is, at times, inappropriately judgmental.

The first recordings I did were with the shotgun mic and the Edirol recorder:

Then I tried the same set-up again with the blanket test in mind (w/o blanket):

Then I recorded my voice with a blanket over my head:

The last test was taking my iPhone outside in the wind:

And then I used Audacity to trim three of the files and combine them into one:

Color Tools • Adobe Color CC

As part of an assignment for my web design course I’ve been asked to provide a working link to one or more color palettes I like using a color picker like color-hex or Color Scheme Designer, or another tool I prefer. I’ve chosen Adobe’s Color CC.

To find my pallet I searched for a recent picture that pleased me and used that picture to create a pallet using Adobe’s tool. I chose a picture of some hot peppers that I recently pickled and put it through the pallet generator:


The generator chose five colors to use as my pallet for any design that I may do with this image. I’m actually quite pleased with the way this came out. If I were to use this pallet to create a label for the jar I could easily see using these colors. Interestingly, one of my favorite colors is sky blue, and it happened to get picked up by the reflection off of the top of the jar. Most of the colors are warm, and I find that the effect fits with something that I would associate with hot peppers – a south western sensibility – coincidentally, an ‘adobe’ feel to the pallet.

I’ve learned that if I did create this label, I would do my work in RGB and when I was ready to print I would save the image into CMYK – and to not move back and forth between file types so as to prevent loss.


I saved the pallet in Creative Cloud. I used an ancient log-in. I think I’ll open an updated account.

Search for an Open Source/Free HTML Editor


I’ve used DreamWeaver as my default HTML editor for over 15 years. I really don’t like it, but I know it, so I use it, but I’m on the search for something new. I found, Atom. Atom is open source, therefore free, from Github.

I think Atom may have too much horsepower for me – I want something more simple…

I could use an online editor, which seems workable, but maybe too light and it’s way ugly.


So I’ve decided to try AptanaStudio3. It seems a little more manageable to me, but still way complicated for my skill level. Does anyone else have an idea for something a little more simple?