iPad Robot Redemption

I freely admit to having mocked iPad robots on more than one occasion. My experience with them has largely been awkward encounters at conferences where they felt more like curiosities1 than anything with real purpose or impact.2 But . . . we recently ended up in a scenario where a student in Molly’s Artfulness class was going to be unable to attend class for a lengthy period of time. She was considering dropping the class. The next class was a dance-focused class run by Jill Ware where movement and being in the space was particularly important. All this came out in an informal conversation with Molly. As a semi-joke, I said now was the time to use the iPad robot . . . and not only did we do it but it ended up working really well. You can see some of the interactions playing out below. I think it was a fundamentally different experience than merely watching. In this particular scenario I think that the iPad robot really made a remarkable difference in terms of interaction on the part of the student driving and the students interacting with the robot/student.3 It also looks like a fundamentally different experience for both the driver of the iPad robot and the students in the class. It’d be a fun thing on which […]

Historical Will Annotation Continued: A WP API Experiment

The Judah Will Project (now with new URL!) has continued to grow as Ryan has been putting in serious work on the research and writing side of things. I have no choice but to step up my game and it’s been an interesting learning experience as it’s the first time I’ve tried anything sophisticated with WP providing the writing/data side of things while presenting that information somewhere else entirely. Headless? So here’s a recap of changes since the last update. More Obvious I talked to Jim about the project a few days ago. It became clear to me that it wasn’t obvious that the names in the will transcription were clickable prior to actually clicking on one. I fixed that with a simple dashed underline. This was one of those times where I was trying to keep the visual elements minimal but ended up going too far. I also threw in a modal popup for initial directions to make things more obvious. I just used this simple modal jquery plugin. It immediately drove me crazy by popping up all the time. So I looked around and found a solution to set cookies which I’d never done before. I also used a modal for the ever-growing family tree. When you have 12 kids in a generation, things get pretty wide. Permanent […]

No Easy Anythings – OER at VCU

Emanuel Shinwell, 1918 flickr photo by LSE Library shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Someone sent me the following comment from Professor Golumbia (a professor here at VCU). He’s got me blocked on Twitter for some reason or I’d loop him in directly. I’m taking that as a message not to communicate directly but since this comment was public and I’m quoted in the article, I figured I could at least respond. Maybe it’ll moderate the level of perceived evil intent. cool, my employer is now paying its employees to screw themselves & other laborers out of significant future wages https://t.co/rf1zmelscS — David Golumbia (@dgolumbia) February 7, 2017 I don’t feel like it’s quite as binary as it’s being portrayed but that portrayal may be a result of Twitter’s limits.1 It’s also easy to see an institution as purely evil. It’s usually harder to do that with individuals. It’s also a rough time to care about education, students, faculty, academia as an institution, nature, freedom, humanity, etc. etc. All that to say, I understand an aggressive response to just about anything right now. With that, I’ll give you my two cents on why I opted to engage with VCU OER work. In the OER conversation, the easy victory is to focus on monetary savings for students. It’s a far […]

Google Script Folder Copying Postmortem

Image from page 93 of “Elementary and dental radiography” (1813) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) This is the blow-by-blow documentation of a failure of sorts. Nothing makes me angrier than failing to deliver on something I said I could/would do. I ended up delivering what was needed but the way I had to do it was ugly and time-intensive. All of this happened because of two things- insufficient initial testing and not enough knowledge on my end at a couple of key steps. I’ve got lots of ideas I need to test out now that I’ve learned a few things the hard way but I thought it’d be beneficial to see how I tried to think through this thing when various paths failed . . . and with that welcome to my postmortem. I thought we had the Social Work Google Docs Digital Portfolio thing figured out. I even wrote a blog post. Events coalesced to remind me that I do not know enough stuff. However, I do intend to learn from painful mistakes like this and give you my tears and frustration for you free of charge.1 Initial tests felt a bit slow but nothing too bad. Google Scripts will timeout after 6 minutes but I thought we’d be ok […]

Rampages Stats vs My Own Data

flickr photo shared by NASA on The Commons with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) It’s that time of year when you try to prove to your institution that the work you do matters . . . and I am prepared to make it rain datums.1 I’m not sure how valuable this will be to others but who knows and it helps me to write it down. Currently, my former team of 5 is now just me. So this stuff is sole mio23 and compasses everything from manual password resets to full on custom development work with faculty. Can you tell when the semester started? That’s an increase of abut 2,400 sites in about 3 weeks. I’ve got our weekly Twitter/Google Sheet spitting this out and writing it to a spreadsheet so this data was handy. I’ve been playing with logging data for a variety of reasons. For instance I now tag my rampages support emails in GMail and that logs them to a spreadsheet each night. I’m at least mostly consistent doing that because it’s a very light weight action on my part. I can then get an idea how stuff is really playing out rather than simply my perception of things (although that matters too). The chart above represents rampages email support over the last 30 days as of […]

Many Paths in Programming

flickr photo shared by San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Minor Thoughts on Computational Thinking Probably obvious stuff but I’m trying to jot things down for my own reference. The first thing one ought to know about computational thinking/programming is that there are many correct paths (although some are better1 than others). This is true for just about anything but I think people think technology will be much more . . . binary. Searching for cleaner paths can be kind of fun. Computational thinking is powered by vocabulary. Vocabulary, like in language, is closely tied to concepts (maybe analogies). Having never heard of the range function, it didn’t occur to me that it existed . . . let alone that I should use it. To make it work properly I need grammar but just knowing the word exists and means something starts to change things for me. It brings to mind setting up programming challenges much more like Dan Meyer’s 3 Act math lessons . . . with the scenario really begging for the addition of a particular concept but letting students struggle with it rather than providing it ahead of time. A Path This is a little bit of real-life progression which demonstrates how one thing can be done in a variety […]

Personal API: Progress in Pursuit of Nirvana

I’m going to give periodic updates on the personal API journey as way to make myself accountable and document progress. As Kin Lane reminded me this is a journey and so I’ve decided there are strange parallels between my API/Reclaiming-my-content work and the path to enlightenment.1 Like a Buddhist with very low expectations, I seek an end to (platform-related) suffering and rebirths. I am attempting to extinguish the fires of- ignorance – I don’t know exactly where all my stuff is or the rules governing it/me or what I’m “paying” for the service. short-sightendness – I’ve put work/energy/content in places without enough/any thought about the future. acceptance – I’ve accepted sub-par experiences, oppressive EULAs There may be a fourth flame to extinguish around isolationism (not taking advantage of the connectedness of all things API) but I’ve probably butchered Buddhism enough for one post. Since our last installment I’ve migrated from Bluehost to Reclaim. People might claim that’s a move from a vendor to another vendor. I disagree. Reclaim is both people I know and love and a company focused on the things I care about. Their goal is not entirely profit driven. I have no problem with people making money but I do have a problem with profit being the only driving force. It was a seamless move I put […]


First Steps in the Personal API

  The first step in starting to consider your personal API is figuring out where your stuff is now. This has been an interesting experiment for me as I’ve flung stuff all around the Internet with very little concern for long-term considerations. Where is my stuff? I’m trying to think about all the places I’ve put work and/or media I care about. I’m also trying to group all of it in some sort of organized fashion. I thought it’d make sense to think big picture and work my way down. Domains/Servers bionicteaching.com on bluehost until I can do the reclaim migration mainly the blog but lots of random files as well- no real idea what’s on here tomwoodward.us on bluehost until I can do the reclaim migration rampages.us (work) – on reclaim, code stuff is mostly on github but content is in the wind augmenting.me (work) – on media temple, code stuff is mostly on github, maybe greatvcubikerace.net (work) – limited, no idea if I’ve got this on github teachers.henrico.k12.va.us – (old work) not sure it’s salvageable in time  (lost to the monsters?) Google Docs bionicteaching – 5GB vcu- work – 11GB montessori – work henrico – work (lost to the monsters – I document this as reminder of how much stuff can be lost when you change jobs- remember changing ownership across google […]


The More Things Change

From my original blog in a post from May 20, 2005 (thanks to the Internet Archive) In my extensive experience blogging (nearly two weeks now) I have managed to learn a few things. 1. Blogging has changed the way I read and think. Some of the people I read have been kind enough to come by here. I have a real audience, however small, of people I respect. That has changed how I read their blogs. I now look for ways I can join the conversation, ways I can contribute rather than just being a detached observer. I am now a productive part of a community and have a personal stake in what is happening. 2. Comments mean a lot. A comment often mean more than you’d expect. To me it means people are reading and are interested, which is important to me. Comments mean you have been heard. What you said mattered enough to someone to take the time to write something back. Comments and trackbacks are what changes this medium from an online diary to a conversation in a community. I try to leave more comments now. I hope they encourage others the same way they encourage me. This is also something to keep in mind when I am grading papers. 3. I now see why the open […]

My Chunk of the VCU ALT Lab Educause Presentation

I got a chance to present at Educause with Gardner, Jon, and Molly. The session was about 45 minutes so we each had about 7 minutes. The session description is below. I figured I’d throw my slides/comments up here- mainly because I will forget everything if I don’t write it down. In the past, centers supporting excellence in teaching and learning tended to follow models of faculty development focusing on incremental change in widely accepted practices. VCU’s Academic Learning Transformation Laboratory seeks to change that paradigm. This session will begin with our story thus far. Come help us write our next chapters! from the program This is a list of my greatest fears (although I left out hypocrisy which I find myself repeating almost as much as workflow). It’s easy to scare people out of doing things. It’s easy to end up aiming for mediocrity. That feels like a high bar at times. Don’t call warming up dog food a victory. It’s really almost worse than leaving it cold. At least cold dog food isn’t pretending. I’ve had to do it at times but don’t let it ever become a goal. Excuses are easy. Figuring out real limits on capacity and aspiration is hard and a constantly moving target. It’s a tightrope to walk but walk it. Many places support […]