Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

In my last post I raved about the DIY Maker movement and how I believe it may be the future of Tech Ed programs.  I recently received an email from a group of Makers in Madison called sector67, that maintains a nonprofit workshop there where fellow Hackers are able to work on their projects.  The email went like this:

“We are currently in brainstorming mode (and on a tight time line) and hoping that your educational expertise and frustration could provide us with some inspiration. Our request is that you (and any peers you forward this too!) take a moment to share a thought or two about issues and obstacles you deal with in the classroom. Or maybe you have a dream machine you have always wanted? Perhaps you need a device that visually conveys an abstract concept? Something that helps relax the kids during reading/quiet time? A support tool that can be used with any topic? If you don’t have a particular idea, please just outline the problem with a little detail. The challenge is for us to create a solution. Really, anything is possible!”

Any ideas for a device, any device that helps in the classroom, electronic or otherwise and this group could potentially make your dreams come true.  Please comment with any ideas and I’ll pass them on.

My idea, in flowchart form, is to have a lunchbox we can take with us on field trips. Inside the lunchbox is a wirelessly enabled hard drive, a big battery and a few dozen wireless SD cards to be put into whatever digital cameras we have. Then, every time a kid takes a picture the photos are instantly put on the hard drive, in one place, ready for projects when we get back to school.

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Comments on: "What “Dream Product” Would You Like In Your Classroom?" (5)

  1. I like your idea, but how about this version, which has less wireless, but should be cheaper to build:

    lunchbox contains external hard drive and SD card reader. Kid inserts his SD card as he gets back on the bus, data is shoved over to hard drive. the files would be moved into the drive (cleaning out the card?). destination directory would be drive:\date\kid_name

    Potential future upgrade is to make taking interesting or useful photos into a game. kids get points for pictures that are used in final project, or some sort of vote of top ten pictures of the trip.

    Potential expensive upgrade is a screen or projector that would let the kids see all of today’s pictures during the bus ride back to school. Would need some sort of preview so the teacher can nix bad/improper images.

  2. [...] thank to Lee Briggs, of the Greenwood School District, for getting S67 some exposure on the Weekly Reader Technology blog. Central to the Maker movement is learning, and we are definitely interested in working with and [...]

  3. Lee Briggs said:

    I really like the ideas here. there has to be some kind of way to build a web-based voting system, as for projection, an LED projector, while short-throw would be affordable. as along as we are talking web though, why not have the box host the pictures and the kids with ipod touches could view them.

  4. Hey Guys, Sector67 here.

    We kicked the tires on this wireless drive in a lunch box idea quite a bit and considering all the potential directions it could go, the consensus best-answer on our end (assuming the cameras are already purchased) is simply get a netbook and put it in a protective case. It isn’t as exciting as making something from scratch, but the price would be hard to top considering the hours the proposed device would take to build and program, the netbook has all the necessary I/O functions, you could use wireless SD cards that automatically dump onto the computer, and the capabilities of the netbook mean the images could be immediately viewed, projected, shared to iPod Touches, uploaded to a website, compiled into a film–the sky is really the limit.

    If the cameras are not already purchased, there are smart phones that could carry out 90%+ of this stuff, and it is only a matter of time before their prices come down. Maybe instead of getting cameras and a netbook, a herd of economical smart phones (with the proper apps and filters, of course) could do the job.

    In our tech exploits at the Makerspace, one of the more regular lessons for us is that when it comes to finding solutions, often times the best answer simply means finding the right product and using it creatively. A great policy is to try to see beyond the pre-defined capabilities of any given object. It is frequently surprising how something designed to do “this” actually does “that” incredibly well.

    Lee, thanks again for engaging the conversation!

  5. [...] year I talked about the ‘maker’ movement, a subculture of hackers and tinkerers and DIY culture that encourages [...]

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