Tie And Jeans

Archive for the tag “python”

Essential EdPython – Being Hit On The Head

I did the VAIS presentation today, thanks in large part to the generous loan of a projector from Claire and Michelle, two fantastic #MakerEd pioneers from Highland School. I know how egregious the venue charges for LCD projectors are, but it’s a real mindwarp to walk in to a room and see an honest to god overhead projector set up. I could have made it work if I had the crank-system installed.

After the presentation, a dozen great conversations that were all pressed for time, and four hours in the car, I don’t have a many specific memories from the day.

But I know I used this classic stolen-from-Alfie Kohn bit of EdPython.

Alfie calls this Better Get Used To It, but the phrase I hear in actual use is They’re Going To Need It. I guess the later formulation allows us to absolve ourselves of any guilt. It’s not just that the world (by which we mean school, which we’re in the process of creating and recreating every day) inflicts this horrible thing on young people, and we’re the early messengers. No, if they’re “going to need it” then the implication is that we’ve performed some daring and far reaching reconnaissance, and discovered a surprising hurdle in everyone’s life where this unpleasant and baffling experience will prove invaluable.

We’re very careful to wash out hands of all responsibility in that sentence. It’s college admission boards! It’s the testing companies! It’s our competitor schools! For any rational actor, there would come a point where the costs associated with a certain path became so onerous that alternatives, even less consistent ones, became viable. Never so in schools, where the entire notion of cost and choice evaporate between the actors, and we’re all left bemoaning what students have to do.

Like the Godin quote that Laura linked to yesterday, these arguments deal with avoiding possible consequences that are possibly negative. These are the “if, if” outcomes of which we fear the fear. Third order effects, indeed.

Solving problems close to home

I’ve been feeling really concrete recently. I don’t want to talk about what the world will look like in 2020. I dont’ want to wash away the problems of laptops carts with “it’ll be better next year when we’re 1-1.” I want to fix real problems that are hurting our classrooms right now.
It means I’ve been in the classroom more and coding more. The last little project was my first stab at using Growl, which may be the best thing since dialog boxes tied to individual windows in OS X. My goal is to have a simple script that I can push to student laptops that announces when anyone connects using any flavor of VNC (ScreenSharing, Remote Desktop, whatever..)

I love VNC. I’ve been running a headless mini for years, and another with no keyboard tied to the TV. Without VNC (or Teleport, which is just better for the TV box) I would be drowning in cables and redundant keyboards.

For a classroom setting, I think the ability to quickly view all student’s screens is incredible useful. In rooms like ours, where there’s one projector cable and only one dongle, it’s the most sensible way to get student work up on the big board. I just think it’s responsible and fair that when we connect to their screens, we let them know that it’s happening.

It’s fun to write, and I think serves a real need that teachers are facing right now. It’s also something that I haven’t told the IT team about, and will avoid doing so for as long as possible.

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