A TouchDevelop Tip


Lately, Alfred Thompson (@alfredtwo) has been sharing a great deal about his experiences with TouchDevelop.  His latest post is actually a story around a video showing how to use Turtle Graphic in TouchDevelop.  That did it.  If anyone can program and create a video at the same time, I’ve got to give it a shot.

Of course, you need an idea.  So, in tribute to Alfred’s Tip Calculator presentation at the CSTA Conference last summer, I thought I’d write a little tip program, all the while learning the language and user interface.

I head on over to the TouchDevelop site where you log in with your Microsoft, Facebook, or Google account.  I log in with my live.ca account and I’m ready to explore.  I took a look at one other program and decided to just forage ahead.  Kids, don’t do this at home.  I had no planning, no layout, (quite frankly no idea of what the syntax of the language was going to be…).

When you create your first script, you actually don’t get plopped into a blank workspace unless you want…

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There’s going to be lots to explore in the future.  For my simple program, I have no need for any bells or whistles…

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Hopefully, I can change that!

Within a few minutes, I had learned enough of the environment and the language to create a first program.

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And run it, I did…

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Wait a minute.  Careful observers will note that I created the program in Windows but ran it on my iPad!

Therein lies the excitement of this application.  It’s not just a development tool for the desktop.  Because it’s all online and carefully crafted, it will run on many devices!

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Whoops.  OK, just about anything.  Looks like Google Chrome for the iPad isn’t on the list!

But it certainly worked well on my Android Phone.

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In fact, the nice clean interface seems to play well just about anywhere.

But, writing and running on your device is only part of the story.  There is an option to compile and share your work.

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I don’t have a Windows Phone or Windows 8 but I certainly do have devices that could run the HTML 5 WebApplication.  Even running it locally is interesting when you view the source and see all that’s going on to make it work.

If I’m a Computer Science teacher, I would be very excited to see this land in my classroom.  It’s web based so you’re already accessing the latest, greatest version.  It works on a variety of devices so BYOD is a real possibility.  Students don’t need the school computers; they could be coding on their own device both at home and at school.  What’s not to like?

I would encourage anyone who is interested in coding at any level to take a look at TouchDevelop to see if it has a home in your classroom.  I’m betting that it well.

In addition to your own work, make sure that you explore the home page for TouchDevelop to see the showcase applications that are being development.  There’s some amazing things and if the author allows you, you can grab a copy of her/his code and make it uniquely yours.

A printed manual and free to download manuals are available here.  Finally, stay in touch on Facebook!

 

One Stop Resource for Google Docs


If you’re a Google Docs user, curious about Google Docs, work with Google Docs with students, and especially if you’re looking for help understanding all of the features of Google Docs, then you’ve got to bookmark MaryFran’s Google Docs Tutorials.

Created as a Google Site (of course), this is a huge collection of resources, tutorials, videos, … all devoted to helping the visitor understand the ins and outs of working with Google Docs.

That’s really the best description I can think of to describe this site.

Navigation and use is as simple and powerful as Google Docs itself.

Just select a topic of interest from the left side navigation menu and read on.  Screen captures are included along with complete descriptions of just what activity is being discussed.

Google Docs users – make sure that you bookmark this resource.

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French iOS Applications


One person that’s regularly on the Ontario Educators’ list is @sylviaduckworth.  She’s a regular Twitter user and sends out some great content.  Sylvia is definitely someone that you want to follow, particular if teaching French using AIM is of interest to you.  She has a strong passion for this.

I’ve just recently stumbled on her French iOS Applications blog.  It’s bookmarked and now listed in the Ontario Edublogger list.

This has real interest for me.  That little guy that hangs out at our house is soon going to be in a situation where he’s serious about French as a language.

Of course, I’ll want to make his environment as rich in both languages as I can.

That’s where Sylvia’s blog will come handy.  She’s devoted this blog to downloading and evaluating applications that would be appropriate for use in the FSL classroom.  She has a “so far” list…

and a much longer to-do list.  It’s a very ambitious goal!  Those of us who are interested in this will truly benefit from her efforts.

She’ll have plenty of visits from me over the next while as these all roll out.

Bring it on, Sylvia!  This will be a truly unique blog.  I can’t find anything similar and neither can Zemanta which I use for related links.

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Infographics for Careers


I really like infographics.  I keep hearing of people that don’t and yet they keep on appearing.  In my morning reading on Zite, one of the categories that I visit daily is indeed “Infographics”.

I’m amazed at how interesting the creators of them are.

It’s an attractive way to display statistics and potentially big data.  I know that, when teaching Computer Science, problems that were given to students were most motivating when the desired output was graphics oriented.

Today, I ran across two infographics that got me thinking of a use in a Careers classroom – a subject area that’s always a challenge to find engaging and motivating activities.

The first infographic was “Salaries on the Scene at Fashion Week” where the author takes a look at the various salaries in the fashion industry.  Click the link to see the full infographic.

Almost immediately after I enjoyed this infographic, I ran into “What Really Motivates Employees

Taken together, they made for some interesting reading and deeper thought.

Then it occurred to me.  Why wouldn’t activities like this be a genuine research and productive activity in the Careers Classroom?

At the introductory level, you could look at the infographics online and talk about the content.  There’s certainly a great deal of merit to that but I wouldn’t stop there.

One of the things that a good infographic does is cite its resources at the bottom.  Why wouldn’t you take the resource links (find Canadian equivalent ones if possible) and send the students to the links to look at the raw data and have them create their own infographics to summarize and display the results through their lens.  It would be interesting to compare the statistic interpretation through their eyes as opposed to a commercially developed one.

Of course, you’re going to need tools.  You may find right from the get go that students have the skills to dig into Photoshop Elements (licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education) right away.

For the others, there are wonderful resources on the web.

And away you go!  As indicated above, I love to collect infographics and infographic resources.  They’re all tucked away in my Diigo account.  Help yourself.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, this just screams to be an activity for groups where skills are shared and brainstorming rules.  Pick a career and you’re off to the races.

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Mobile Muzy


So, today I messed around with the Muzy mobile application.  Designed for the iPhone, it still worked nicely on my iPad.

Starting the application, I logged into my Muzy blog and was immediately where I left off with the desktop version.  Just like the desktop, there is a suite of tools.

So, I started to poke around and see what I could do.  There were actually far more things that I could do here than through the web.  I have access to my camera, to camera rolls on the iPad, a world of play.  I’m really seeing the use of this for the iTeacher who likes to take a lot of pictures.

In my case, I pulled out a classic Words with Friends screen capture from an experiment with Andy Forgrave.

You may scoff but it takes a lot of work to come up with those many three letter words!

I decided to mark it up and see what I could do…I was intrigued by the stickers option.  Clicking that downloaded a collection and I decided that this was a “Star” effort!  So, I selected one and applied it to the image.  Next, a little comment bubble applied and then overlaid with a bit of text.  Piece of cake.

When I’m done, Muzy saved it to my Camera Roll and uploaded it to my Muzy blog!

I was very impressed with the features packed into the application.  Right on the install, there were a number of apps good to go.

But, I guess you can’t please everyone so Muzy has its own app store where you can add even more functionality to the base application.

The suite of tools just continues to add to the functionality…

If you’re a picture taker, or a picture blogger, or like to do a lot with pictures with your iOS device, you’ve got to look at this.  You’ll be quite impressed.