Category Archives: innovation

Innovation Hub – How I made a puzzle.

So during the last school year the OU Innovation Hub Opened which includes a FabLab which is one of the coolest makerspaces around. Students and faculty can use it for free, but you are smart to bring your own wood and not rely on scraps.

I know this is important to my @OUEducation students in their preparation to be teachers, so when we switched to badging in Spring 17 we included a badge that they needed to go to the innovation hub or the Edge at the library to make something and share their experiences.

To be honest, I did not have time to go until summer, but now summer is here and two of my students got hired to work here next year, it is time for me learn to better support my students and work out logistics.

I am most excited by the Laser Cutter. I am constantly impressed by the cool wooden things that can be made.

First thing, I met with Brandt, FabLab Director, and he helped me make something after I took the safety quiz.   He showed me a bit in Illustrator but then I knew that if I was really going to understand the process I better make some stuff.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWREqLJeUaGF5AdrziWzSMQ

So first, I started with a file created by Brandt  so I had the basics that I could copy..(but really could not, but it helped me get started)..

Then I went to Home Depot and bought some 1/4 inch plywood.

I checked out a computer with Illustrator in the College of Education and then started to take short cuts.

Miranda Hanno
My partner in Crime awesome @oueducation student Miranda Hannon

I started to download Vector Files from Vecteezy.   (No judgement I am learning – originals come later).

my first puzzle using Vecteezy

So then I printed my first projects but messed up proportions something fierce.. (my 3×5 quote sign ended up being like 8 x 11) and I made my first puzzle and forgot about the back of it and had to reprint and got all the proportions wrong.

Lesson 1:  waste some wood while you learn! 

Then we printed some other things and got proportions figured out and then I was hooked..

Making a Complete Puzzle

I was first inspired to make a puzzle by a card that I found at Hallmark.

This is the original card – 1/8 plywood with a cardboard back.

So I left for two hours, sat on Campus Corner and did a new illustrator file to print. (and if they were open on Wednesday I would be there today) .

(Lesson 1.a – don’t leave plywood in a hot Oklahoma car – it rolls up like a taquito) 

Lesson 2: keep practicing, you will learn more.. (and remember a lot you had forgotten from grad school) 

This time I used a sheet of Owls from VectEezy to make a custom puzzle .. I figure I will give to someone at Arthur Elementary (Arthur owls) They are our local ConnectEd School and are setting up a MakerSpace.

I put the owls into Adobe Illustrator – and used a red line to create a cut around each owl and each square.

So first I printed the owls and planned to cut around them.  Then I made a rectangle and cut that out.

In the laser cutter

so what I ended up was this – a rectangle that had the outlines of the owls.

Each of the owls is cut out but fit back in the square.

Get it.. the owls fit back in?

Then I also cut out a rectangle that was the same size of the cut out square.

Then I used wood glue to attach the one with the cut outs to the plain one.

Wood glue on back..looks like buttered bread – eh)

Lesson 3: a little Wood Glue goes a long way. 

Then I realized I did not have a way to pull them out..  A girl had just cut out keychains and she had made these little pegs where she had cut out the hole for the keychain to attach. She had the idea – use the trash from her project to finish mine!  So we cleaned out the trash tray and found enough to make the pulls to glue on.

Lesson 4: I learned more from looking at other’s projects than what I was doing myself. The community was amazing. 

This student (Instagram: OklahomaMarigold ) had great ideas and I learned a bunch along with the Camp Crimson staff member that was working too.

So here is the final project

The finished project.

So what is the next step?

First I made this to match the size of the greeting card. It fits in a sandwich bag – but if I made it bigger by scaling it in Illustrator, I could make it big. (my first one is the size of a Melissa and Doug Puzzle)

I want to try to do it with original drawings and now I have plan. (I may use Adobe Illustrator Draw App to create a file to export to Illustrator to be able to draw with a stylus on an iPad)

Overall, this was a great start, I installed Illustrator on my computer today and plan to work on it while at #ISTE and print again when I return.

It is kind of like when my friend Mona taught me how to make hummus in grad school – mind blown – these projects that were  so overwhelming to me are quite possible.  This is the same transformation that I need for my students.. so I will keep learning and let them see me learn.

For more information on the Innovation Hub visit:  http://www.ou.edu/innovationhub.html

Ps. this is a great project for my early childhood majors -imagine if you made a puzzle for each Unit or topic in the curriculum!

Watch for my next post on how great the Bizzel Library Edge was to work with for our Education students during Intersession! 

We are leaving Baby Boomers behind with Technology

I am visiting my parents for their 49th Wedding Anniversary and my mother made a list of things that she wanted me to do while I was here.  This included:

  • Help her upgrade her phone
  • Help her figure out how to renew her license (done online)
  • Update her Kindle Fire tablets (that have error messages about memory and app updates)

While I have been sitting here, my Aunt (her older sister) called me trying to figure out how she lost messages with the children she texts the most.

This is Day 1 – generally when I visit, my Mom has me go and visit with her Silver Sneakers class when they meet for coffee afterwards and I field questions about their cell phones, tablets, and computers.

I find that when we talk, technology always comes up.. More and more they can’t do things on paper anymore, their health insurance,  their taxes, all have to be done online.   Even 10 years ago, I regularly read how to find books in the library sessions during my regular visits.

Have we really thought about the update to technology and how it frustrates our parents and grandparents?  Are we leaving them behind?  We sat here talking about how she hears about her friends getting taken advantage of buying technology like phones and computers..  Maybe our need to efficiency needs to remember to help our elders adjust?

NYT Article on Silicon Valley and Education

So sometimes you see things shared again and again on your twitter and facebook feeds and think – I need more than 140 characters to share my thoughts on this..

The article by the New York Times on How Silicon Valley Billionairesare changing education  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/technology/tech-billionaires-education-zuckerberg-facebook-hastings.html?mcubz=1&_r=0  requires a blog post.

Okay first, my background;

I am an Associate Professor and Apple Distinguished Educator – and I teach those studying to be teachers how to use technology in meaningful ways with kids (and also some practicing teachers).  I have been a professor for 11 years and lead a 1 to 1 iPad program.  So obviously I am an Apple fan but just to put myself in a adopter continuum – I will say I own two chromebooks,  don’t have an Apple watch or iPad Pro and my first iPhone was a 6s Plus which I am still using.  (and intend to for least another year) I try hard to be aware as many new technologies as I can and trends in education because it is my job to help my students learn about many technologies and choose which ones they want to use..

A lot of the innovations that they are talking about in the New York Times article are great, and in many cases these startups, while free now move to a freeium model – so while these things might be really useful now, the subscription costs (for which schools are not well set up) will be coming.

I find these also to be pockets of innovation – and don’t get me wrong we need pockets but I feel as though the large scale, company commitments were left off from this article.  I appreciate the CEOs that spend their own money, but I also appreciate the large scale initiatives that are looking at larger changes to education.

For example, Google got a small shout out in their article for Google Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education)  They said : “Already, more than half of the primary- and secondary-school students in the United States use Google services like Gmail in school.”  A true statement and this free service has changed the workflow in so many schools. I can see it in my college students and practicing teachers getting their masters – we expect to collaborate in real time in our documents.   Apple and Microsoft have just joined in on this, they are late the game, and don’t have the seamless nature to the collaboration yet.  (ie.. they still have problems with conflicted copies etc..)  However, educators are worried that this will become a freeium in the way that Dropbox SpaceRace gave free storage to University students and faculty and then forced us to pay once it was an important part of our workflow.

So definitely Google is changing productivity in education and is currently free. but what this article missed all together is more of the philanthropic nature of some of silicon valley’s work.  I have had personal experience with ConnectED which is an initiative funded by Apple (100 million)  in an agreement with the Obama White House.

ConnectED identified and gave grants to 114 of the most underserved schools in the US to transform education for some our of neediest students. https://www.apple.com/education/connectED/

I have had several opportunities to interact with the students and teachers at ConnectED and I can tell you that I believe this philanthropy is changing the lives and learning experiences of students, teachers and communities.

We have a Connect Ed school in Oklahoma City – Arthur Elementary (part of OKCPS) . This school was one of the first schools to get going with Connect ED.  Not only are their teachers new iPads new ways with kids, many of whom are English Language Learners but they also have partnered with our College of Education to host practica students and student teachers.   I have offered training to them and several of their teachers are pursuing masters’ degrees with us. Whenever I visit the school, I see many other educators from within OKCPS and other districts visiting to see how they can use technology to reach their students.   Their impact is much greater than being measured.

Arthur Elementary
Miranda Hannon learned from Connect ED students
Miranda Hannon learned from Connect ED students

In February, I was able to participate in a training for Connect ED leaders from about 75 schools that was put on by Apple.  Meeting these educators who were not only preparing students to use technology but also providing for many of the basic physical and emotional needs of students who are often not in a stable environment and may need food, clothing and shelter was inspiring.  These were some of the most dedicated educators I have ever met and I found myself inspired by their projects and stories. As part of this, Apple has been activating the Apple Distinguished Educator community to serve this group.  In all of the examples in the NYT story, I did not see where educators were helping to lead these efforts.  I can’t help but think of the other news story that keeps popping in my feed about the need for large reform and philanthropy about schools to include teachers.   http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-gates-education-20160601-snap-story.html  

I know many people will say that Apple has an up side, by giving away 100 million in tech, training and apps they must be setting themselves up to sell more.  But lets look back to 1986 – in 1986 they did the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) which is the still the gold standard for planning technology professional development programs for teachers.   In the end, they added to the collective knowledge but the research but that project really did not change their sales that much.  Much of what they learned has benefitted all tech companies and ed tech researchers.

I know that Microsoft and other companies spend a lot of money on education too.. but to my point,  I think the NY times missed the boat here, individual commitments from CEOs to create new educational products is great, but so are company wide commitments especially those that have a strong educator input.  Where is the talk of that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating a Culture of Innovation

I have been getting Tech and Learning sent to me for a while now, and I peruse it from time to time. In a recent issue – 37.9 available here:  http://www.techlearning.com/resources/0003/creating-a-culture-of-innovation-an-excerpt-from-tl-leader/70561

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what it takes to create a culture of innovation and so this article attracted my attention.  I think the first thing that I noted was that the article was not saying a culture of technology – but instead innovation.  I feel as though we can often focus on technology as the innovation but instead we need to be focused more on the mindset.

As I read through the article, there were several things I noted about the examples they shared:

  • They allowed the teachers as learners to pick their passion projects and gave them time to pursue them.   This is an example of allow the culture to build with a carrot versus a stick.. Ie..  teachers were rewarded with time, resources, and professional respect to pursue the ideas that they were most passionate about.
  • Teachers were encouraged to form small groups around big ideas that interested them. They supported each other and built community. This kind of community supports a culture of innovation.
  • The leaders were facilitators and did not use top down methods to get change but instead trusted their professional staff and supported them.
  • Leaders engaged professional networks – there is an example of connecting teachers interested in robotics with other teachers using similar tools.  Again, leader as facilitator and connector not top down management.
  • It all came down the fundamental ideas of Diffusion of Innovations.   One of the tactics discussed was to go to the laggards – the latest of adopters and get them on the side of innovation, and seeing them change help move the process along. I might disagree with this a bit,  in that most diffusion research shows early or late adopters can produce this effect more consistently. However, I believe looking at the influential teachers, no matter their acceptance level of change, is worthwhile effort. Every friend you make, is someone who can drive the innovation process forward.

In the end the article stressed that innovation does not happen by itself and it requires leaders who are working towards creating a culture by trusting their team members and being open their ideas.  As servant leaders, they take roles to assist their team in pursuing their interests towards that goal, and the structure they provide creates a safe space for innovation to grow.