Archive for EDTECH597

EDTECH 597 Final Project

I did it. This 50 year old mom and teacher created multiple productivity and entertainment apps for my mobile device, despite my novice status among app users and Android O/S. Even more impressive is the functionality of the apps created by my classmates and colleagues. From creating something sweet to seeing how the sugar impacts our cells, I stand in respect and awe of what can be developed and designed with a series of well placed pieces – or “blocks.”
I clearly remember 1972. I am 10 years old, sitting in my fourth grade classroom listening to my much-loved teacher talking us through time – taking us on a journey of what then seemed to be fantasy. He spoke of when we were “grown-ups” that we would be able to see each other on TV while talking on our telephone. He said that we would be able to travel without going anywhere. The man was a visionary. Today, the phone talks to me! I can visit the sights of Singapore and hold a life-like Koi pond in the palm of my hand! I have the pleasure to not only see his description held true, but I have also been bestowed the honor and responsibility for pushing the technology forward!
I don’t know how much further I will grow in the app development. This course took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to rise above technical glitches and create something of benefit. But understanding how the technology works gives me impetus to take the students in my classroom on a visionary journey of what can be…in their future.
ETADroid

QRPCR

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EDTECH 597 – The Component Designer

This app design has been an intriguing challenge that fits right in to my life of predicaments and situations. I switched smart phone platforms for this course and have struggled with something akin to regret these past few months. An accomplished iOS user, I feel clumsy and frustrated with the Android, but I persist in my overcoming this obstacle. Last week I determined to get my apps organized into folders. I was successful, but in doing so, I inadvertently changed some setting within my Android that has prevented me from connecting (blocks editor does not see my phone).
I plan for my app to be used by EMT’s on the ambulance or on scene. They will enter patient information that can be sent via SMS to our local ER prior to our arrival. We have to be cautious about providing a patient’s name over our radio communications, but there are several “hot spots” during our transport that an SMS message can be sent prior to our arrival (we have a minimum 45 minute transport). I designed the app so that the user will interact via text box entries, check boxes, gps positioning. and SMS messaging. The environment has varied lighting, so I avoided the use of color, choosing a neutral dark gray and white for the primary screens.
I like being able to drag and drop functions in the Component Designer. It gives me an opportunity to play with the layout. The file size constraint is a potential setback. I am worried that as my app continues to grow, the size might get too big, so I have been resizing the photos in Photoshop to stay within the 5MB limit. I have frequent problems launching the blocks editor and am wondering why at this late date it is beginning to give me problems.

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EDTECH 597 – CRISIS MODE

I have been dreading this assignment. As a basic productivity app user, I am unskilled and unfamiliar with other app categories – especially games. Nevertheless, I have an awareness of the trend toward animating education, so I took this course hoping to gain new insight to the app phenomena. So it comes with some trepidation and much research (I have downloaded more apps in the past three months than my entire six years as a smart phone owner) that I finally have decided on a developer project. As an EMT in a remote location, I experience frequent communication setbacks between our ER staff and our ambulance service. We are equi-distant transport to rural ERs north and south of Riggins, but both requre a 3,000-4,000 foot climb in elevation. When we are called to wilderness areas to retrieve a patient injured or ill, our transport times exceed four hours – but for the most part we have a patient in the ER an average of one hour after we are initially paged. In the meantime, ER crews can be assembled and ready when the patient arrives – especially in critical care or life threatening events. With my plan laid out, I hope the little green droid and the blocks editor are ready for the challenge of my career.

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EDTECH 597 – QUIZ BOWL

I have finally made an app that I will use for more than a cool curiosity, but not before life got in the way. This weekend was spent up north helping my husband recover from an unexpected flood caused by a burst water gasket/hosing in the RV. We found an apartment and got him relocated, but the hours spent helping him has really put a divet into my coursework for the three EDTECH classes I am taking. Nevertheless, I was able to spend about 7.5 hours on this project, and I am pleased with the results. As an EMT instructor, I found the possibilities for an EMS quiz app enticing. Users could refresh their knowledge and prepare for certification exams. It took some time to find Creative Commons pictures that would be applicable to this app. Initially, I would like to put the “correct” answers in a number of different ways, since the app is prone to unforgiving syntax errors. To counter that problem, I added the correct answer to the “incorrect” message, so that if a student was close, or needed an uppercase or space, he or she would know the response was actually correct.

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EDTECH 597 – Hide and Seek

If you have ever experienced a moment of consternation upon exiting a mall or movie theater, the “Find My Car” app will put your fears to rest. Developing the app was an experience akin to finding your car in a packed lot. The design was pretty straightforward, but my desire to increase the font size caused the app to crash and not function well. App crashes were not the only problem, my blocks editor refused to load time after time. After a Java rollback, I was able to get the program to stabilize. I feel challenged to push this app, but I don’t know where! I added images to the buttons, and was finally successful in adding an Icon for the App Screen. Because I won’t be driving to my car, I used the walking option with Google Maps. Nevertheless, trial after trial I keep getting the same font argument error. Status update when/if a new functional version gets put out.
Update: The font argument was not about the font, but the incorrect block in the blocks editor. Third time was the charm! This tool is functional, but rather slow on my Android and takes a long time to load.

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EDTECH597: Tour de Paris

Image

I think I finally had fun with the blocks editor today. In fact, the process went so smoothly that I spent more time dreaming about (or was that researching) what I would do given the opportunity to travel to Paris than I did actually building the app. I am ready to create all sorts of map apps. My students could do this – identifying historical or significant land marks in math and photography. Viva le Apps!

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ED TECH 597: Working out the Bugs

ladybug chase elementsThis past week, the ladybug app left me with a few bugs of my own to work out. Developing an android app by following directions is challenging, but even more challenging is how I will apply my new knowledge to education. Of course there is the possibility of opening the MIT site up to my students, but what more? Will my experience in this course and my new found skills make an impact on the way I teach and learn? Will it make an impact on the way others learn?

I continue to be inspired by my peers as we struggle to extend the lessons and create something uniquely ours. Ego is thrown out the door as we post the difficulties that detain our progress. We voice our reasoning and words of encouragement flow. It’s a refreshing change from the scoffs and muttered name calling in secondary classrooms when a student attempts to clarify an answer, suppressing the natural desire to learn. I have a plan to help teach those students to react to one another with respect and compassion. Although I’m not a “gamer” I am inspired to use this app building process to encourage my students to collaborate and “work out the bugs” of education.

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EDTECH 597: Do Not Disturb

What a week to begin complexity! Just as I was beginning to get the hang of App inventor and spreading my wings to put out new versions of the basic apps, along comes an assignment with location generators, memory, and text-to-voice capabilities. In the midst of it all, widespread ISP server failures, two ambulance runs, and a wounded foal only added to the confusion. The tutorial seemed straightforward, but I kept encountering problems such as having to search for components the drawers. My Blocks Editor did NOT match the screens in the book because the instructions have me rename elements, but their tutorial images are not renamed. I work late at night, so had difficulties finding a second phone. My emulator kept crashing despite multiple reboots. After more than six app hours, my tutorial app worked and was ready to be saved. This experience has given me a lot of insight into developing course materials for online activities. How many times do we educators fail to provide visual or contextual clues on how to proceed when technology fails? How often do I provide my students with misaligned images and text? How do my learners approach new challenges, and what is my role in guiding them through the course? Finally, and most challenging of all, what to do for extending the app? My family members seem to have a deep-seated need to know where I am at all times…given my schedule this past week, perhaps a “Do Not Disturb” is in order.

ET597DRoid

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EDTECH597 Squeak & Buzz

Moles and Apps have two things in common – they can be found just about anywhere and they are always popping up in new places. This week’s design project is a spin-off of the classic children’s arcade game where the player tries to keep rodents from popping up in a given area. After putting together the initial game, I put it to the test with my resident expert – my teenage daughter. She picked up the phone, clicked on a mole, and got a runtime error. “That’s strange, let me reload it.” Again it threw the same error. “Let me know when you get the bugs out” she said as she left the room. Much searching revealed that a block had inadvertently been slid over to the far reaches of the Blocks Editor window. Calling my daughter back, she assessed, tried, and mastered it in 8 seconds. “What did you think?” “BORing” After interrogating her, she admitted the “hit” vibration was okay, but complained catching the mole was too easy, and she lost interest with the plain background and lack of sounds.

Try to stop the moles from overtaking the prairie


Sounds were easy. I quickly found a few .mp3s that I liked at Sound FX Now and quickly incorporated them. I decided to let the user choose the difficulty level with star-ranked buttons. My mental design was progressing quickly toward reality, but I knew I was out of my league. I felt like a middle school student looking at a spreadsheet for the first time. APPrehension struck. How would I add the faster sprites without affecting the original? I am a problem solver. Using my experience with web design, I decided to create duplicate screens – each having successively complex images to distract the player, and each having a faster image sprite. Two hours later, I could not figure out how to get the star buttons to navigate to their respective screens. I consulted the text/tutorial again. This was not going to work. I reluctantly removed the Screens and the time they represented. Back to the blocks editor and the answer was there…all along.
My time spent developing screens 2 and 3 reinforced developing concepts. Figuring out how to get the levels I wanted on my own was victorious. Hearing my daughter’s “That’s cool, mom”…priceless.

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ED TECH 597 – Stop&Go

App development might have seemed easy, but tonight Faith and Buffy knocked me out of my complacent attitude and geared me for a whole new paradigm of what is considered progress. The green light is on to proceed in this class and extend the tutorials to create apps with educational or instructional purposes. This past week I spent little time constructing and publishing my app. I feel hesitant of and clumsy with my new Android while I learn to navigate the basic functions of the device. The blocks editor refused to launch and I would turn my attention to another class or household chore. Finally, I could put off the task no longer. and I worked with the developer tools until I got the blocks editor running. From that point it only took about an hour to follow the tutorial and modify the app for my own purpose. I don’t use a lot of apps, so I am not creative in developing them yet. But thanks to these two pioneers, I do recognize that I am on the threshold of discovery.

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