OCT OEEO

PS_March_2015

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T E C H C L A S S 52 Professionally Speaking | March 2015 REAL APPTITUDE Toronto teachers challenge high school students to team up to develop education-related apps in just two days. BY STEFAN DUBOWSKI YOU CAN DO IT TOO! What You'll Need: • Computers • Application-development tools such as Mozilla Appmaker • Presentation software such as Google Presentation STEPS TO TAKE: 1) Create a website to house background material such as the event's schedule and links to the software participants will use. Invite participants through social media. See edapphack.com for resources. 2) Partner with technology-minded colleagues in schools and elsewhere. These advisers can help you and your students learn to use presentation and app-development software. 3) During the event, have students brain- storm problems and potential apps. 4) Get the students to create a three-slide pitch to share their solutions with the panel of judges. Joseph Romano, OCT, and Brandon Zoras, OCT, organized a hackathon for Toronto high school students. THE CHALLENGE: Help high school students learn to identify and solve problems quickly, combining tech and teamwork. THE SOLUTION: Organize a "hackathon" in which Toronto students and teachers compete to design school- related software in under 48 hours. LESSONS LEARNED: Sometimes, the best way to teach is to question the status quo. College members like Joseph Romano, OCT, and Brandon Zoras, OCT, strive to be current in their professional knowledge, which led them to introduce a new teaching concept to a number of Toronto students. Romano, a teaching and learning coach with the Toronto District School Board's Model Schools for Inner Cities Program, and Zoras, a technology-minded sci- ence and International Baccalaureate HELPFUL HINTS: Don't be afraid to tap into your professional network. Call on tech experts such as your board's chief technology officer and members of the computer-programming faculty at a local college for their expertise and guidance. PHOTO: JOANNE K teacher at Monarch Park Collegiate, help colleagues and administrators integrate teaching and tech. The high-tech duo noticed a pattern in the way students and teachers use technology: a company develops software for a particular need; then teachers and students either em- ploy the software, if they find it helpful, or deem it lacking and wait for another solution to hit the app stores. Romano and Zoras had a better idea. The two arranged a hackathon — an event they dubbed "EdAppHack," where students spend a weekend developing tablet and smartphone apps to address education-related challenges. Over the course of an October week- end, approximately 100 students and 50 teachers gathered together to get programming using computers, tablets and smartphones. On day one, each team identified a problem and worked with a student from a Humber College web-development program to create an app. On day two, the participants honed their solutions and then pitched their app. Ultimately, one app was deemed the winner: SwitchOn. Envisioned by a joint team of students from Vaughan Road Academy and Kipling Collegiate Institute, the program makes a school's daily announcements available in different languages on smartphones. OBSERVATIONS: EdAppHack's participants discovered that they can identify their own problems and develop their own solutions. They also learned how to work quickly and create effective teams while under the pressure of a tight deadline. PS The College's professional advisory on the use of electronic communication and social media (bit.ly//1u47PmM) guides members' professional judgement in the use of technology.

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