Towards “A.D.E.”ish

To become a member of Apple Distinguished Educator, class of 2013, I have to do a movie. It’s sort of assumed it’s a take about what I already do in my classroom that utilizes Apple products well. I sort of have a different idea. I’m thinking of talking about what I am going to do over the next 6 months. To wit:

I have this concept in mind for a piece of software that would convert Keynote to an interactive quiz intended for classrooms. I love how easy it is to make great slides and presentations in Keynote, and have banks of Keynotes that I use in my teaching. However, each class is different, and so each time I use them I basically have to reinvent them from scratch. This is the nature of the job; pulling something out of a cabinet isn’t right, and neither is re-using the exact same Keynotes.

That’s the software side of the idea.

The learning side of what I want to do, however, is where it’s at. Presentations are great for top-down information giving, but I want it to be able to check understanding and engage the learners. Audience participation is not a new idea at all, but usually you have to get specialized software or hardware to do it, and with that comes all kinds of disadvantages. For example, a few years ago I was clever enough to connect Promethean’s hardware to Apple’s Keynote, with the following result:

What that video shows is me giving quizzes with the students using hardware that looks like eggs to input their selections. It’s anonymous and so they check their own understanding, while it provides a great way to increase energy levels in the classroom as well.

I could list some of the downsides with the system I used there, but those are mostly academic. The proof that it’s “not good enough” is that I haven’t been able to use that stuff at my new school, because the solution is married to hardware. Boo.

So, instead of using hardware that points at the screen for them to input, I want them to use chatting software to do so. Basically, they should open up iChat, send me a message, which gets relayed to Keynote with specialized software. I know this can be done with AppleScript, and I know that students get iChat: It’s easy, familiar, and is included with every Mac.

In other words, I am going to propose to Apple that I start writing and making this tool so that they may anoint me as an ADE…. should be interesting.

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