Webstock 2016

In January this year I applied for a scholarship to attend Webstock 2016 in mid February. I had seen information about the scholarship a few weeks before I applied but I wasn’t too sure if Webstock would be good/useful to go to being a very new developer. I didn’t actually really know what Webstock was all about.

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Then I came across this post by Natasha Lampard. Makes for fascinating reading. And so I applied and gained a scholarship to attend Webstock.

Having attend a few different conferences while teaching (Ulearn comes to mind), and having attended WDCNZ in 2015, I had an idea of what a large scale conference would be like.

However, Webstock is run differently. There is one stage, one stream of presentations, no smaller venues for different speakers or multiple themes. One stage, one presenter about every half hour. So actaully quite different to other events.

And what a mixture of speakers. From Luke Wroblewski talking about Screen Time (the kind of thing I was expecting) to Annie Machon who is a former MI5 intelligence officer-turned-whistleblower and Cindy Gallop telling us Why The Next Big Thing In Tech Is Disrupting Sex.

I think there was something for everyone in the eclectic mixture of speakers.

I think all the talks will be up sometime soon at http://www.webstock.org.nz/talks/, there is already six years of Webstock talks up to view (if I could only take a month off and watch them all!).

Screen Time

Luke Wroblewski – www.lukew.com

Screen time used to mean sitting in front of a TV. Today we move between screens of various sizes, proportions, and quality all day. The abundance and diversity of devices can overwhelm teams delivering software. We need practical ways to tackle the problems that come with this diversity of screens. Luke explores a deeper understanding of screen time today and ways to design effective cross-screen experiences for tomorrow.

Here is a link to his talk, not the one he did at Webstock but the same talk (with slides, handy!). He talked about history of glass and four things to consider 1. know your screen, 2. output, 3. input, 4. posture. One thing I didn’t know is that you can get a lot of data about users and what devices they have via your website and apps and from that you can then tail content for them.

The Map and The Territory

Ethan Marcotte – ethanmarcotte.com

When we create for the web, we participate in a kind of public art. We code, we design, we build for an audience, making digital experiences that provide a service, that create joy, or that simply connect readers with words written half a world away. But in this session we’ll revisit what we’ve learned about responsive design, and ensure our content, not just our design, is readily accessible to them wherever they are. In doing so, we’ll look at some ways in which our audience reshapes the way we think about our medium, and see where they might be leading us—and the web—next.

 

This talk started off with looking to the past and the mapping of Manhattan. Ethan coined the term “responsive web design”. He talked about the digital divide and how in parts of the world most devices a sub 3G and that this will change the way people design sites. The idea of “good design” will change. It also look at the performance budget, reducing and revisiting, pages should not weight more then 300kbs, and to consider loading speed? 

This shows how much I have yet to learn. As I don’t even know how to figure out how quickly a page loads, how fast it is, what things effect it (besides image sizes!).

CSS Wizardry

Harry Roberts – csswizardry.com

For his Webstock presentation, dressed as a wizardHarry will perform an interpretive mime cycle, translating the array of human emotions in architecting, writing and scaling CSS for large sites, apps, and products in large-team environments.

His silent exercises, which include such classic works as the cage, walking against the wind, the mask maker, and satires on everything from sculptors to matadors, have been described as works of genius.

I was looking forward to this talk about CSS, however, due to it being a non-technical audience, Harry changed the focus. He talked about doing lots of travelling and talking at conferences. Some interesting travel tips like using a different card to keep the power on in your hotel room when you go out.

Did a Google search to find a presentation of his, What Is A CSS Framework Anyway?, from Industry Conf, and slides https://speakerdeck.com/csswizardry/what-is-a-css-framework-anyway. Haven’t watched it yet.

Adaptive Content, Context, and Controversy

Karen McGrane – karenmcgrane.com

In 2016, “adaptive content” has become a buzzword. To some, it’s a complex, long-term initiative to structure content for flexible reuse and dynamic targeting. To others, it’s a way to ensure that everyone, everywhere, sees exactly what they want—like magic! In this talk, Karen shares her perspective (and reservations) on how adaptive content is being used today. She’ll discuss how adaptive content supports targeting content to device type—and why that’s rarely necessary. She’ll also describe ways that adaptive content can support tailoring content according to context—and ways that can go wrong. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of when adaptive content is necessary and how to get the most value from it.

This was good. Difficult for me to describe as by this point if the day I decided just to soak everything up and didn’t take many notes. I will definitely be watching this when the videos come out. In the mean time, here is one from her site https://karenmcgrane.com/2012/09/04/adapting-ourselves-to-adaptive-content-video-slides-and-transcript-oh-my/.

Bug Fixes & Minor Improvements, Writ Large (aka Humorous Self-Flagellation and the Multiple Benefits of Being Old On The Internet)

Anna Pickard – annapickard.com

Somehow, improbably, the release note — that little space used by apps to describe their latest updates – has become a remarkable, human way for the creators of software to communicate with their users, and Slack (where Anna words*) has been at the forefront of the movement to turn that microcopical nugget of technical documentation very few people bother reading into (basically) a new literary genre. This little revolution didn’t happen by accident though: it’s the result of a fortunate series of events, a short list of values about how to behave as a company, and a long trail of people feeling out what it means to be oneself on the interweb.

This was a great talk and I now read all the release notes for Slack. If you are involved in writing well worth a watch.

Why The Next Big Thing In Tech Is Disrupting Sex

Cindy Gallop – @cindygallop

The tech world welcomes, supports and funds innovation and disruption in every area of our lives and work – except one. Join Cindy Gallop, founder & CEO of http://makelovenotporn.com/, for a provocative, insightful and revelatory examination of what constitutes sextech, how it can bring about world peace, the battles she and other sextech entrepreneurs fight every day to build their ventures, the huge amount of money there is to be made, and why New Zealand has a unique opportunity to become a global hub for sextech.

Now this was a talk that I wasn’t expecting at a tech conference (although, I learnt that Webstock isn’t really a tech conference). This was a fascinating presentation. Here is her talk at TED a few years ago – http://blog.ted.com/cindy_gallop_ma/


That’s my brief (and rather late) blog post about Webstock ’16.

As I was writing it I started thinking about professional development in the developer world. My next post will be about this.

Treehouse – How to Make a Website

I have been learning code now on Treehouse for about two weeks.

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I decided I would start on the Front End Wed Development Track as it covers:

  1. How to Make a Website
  2. CSS Basics
  3. Introduction to Programming
  4. JavaScript Foundations
  5. HTML Forms
  6. jQuery Basics
  7. HTML Tables
  8. HTML Video and Audio
  9. AJAX Basics
  10. Accessibility
  11. Website Optimization
  12. Console Foundations
  13. Git Basics

The time for all of this is 41 hours.

I started at the CSS Basics block as I have made websites before with the code I do know. And had recently finished a Yoobee online course. So I kind of thought I wouldn’t learn much from it.

I got about half way through the CSS Basics and decided to have another look at How to Make a Website (instructor Nick Pettit).

How to Make a Website covers:

  1. Beginning HTML and CSS
  2. HTML First
  3. Creating HTML Content
  4. CSS: Cascading Style Sheets
  5. Customizing Colors and Fonts
  6. Styling Web Pages and Navigation
  7. Adding Pages to a Website
  8. Responsive Web Design and Testing
  9. Sharing a Website
  10. Debugging HTML and CSS Problems

I liked the structure of it in that you can make your own portfolio site as your progress through the tutorials (recently someone suggested that I could sell photos I take, not sure if I could but I decided to use a few of my own photos for this project, which makes it more interesting). So, I decided I would work through this first block.

I am glad I did. A few amount I already knew but I was able to skip through the videos easily. The way that I have learnt HTML and CSS has been quite adhoc. Started by learning to do the layout of pages with tables! Didn’t know anything about divs! So it has been really good to work through a course and not only use better techniques but begin to understand how they all work together.

The techniques/tips that have really stood out for me have been:

  • learning about ids and classes
  • how effective use of margins and paddings can be in styling a page
  • beginning to understand display, float, clear so as to create fluid designs
  • and using simple CSS techniques for design.

For example, the image from CSS Basics, all it is at the top is a orange border, but it looks pretty cool. It would be good to be able to show school students simple tips like this that can really make quite a difference to the look of a site.

The other part that I liked was the Responsive Web Design block. It was not complex at all and something that I think students in NCEA should be getting into early on.

Another part that was useful was the section on Sharing a Website. This covered:

  • Find a Domain
  • Pick a Web Host
  • Upload the Website

This might seem simple to those that have done it and do it regularly, however for me it was useful to be stepped through the process even though I won’t be doing it anytime soon.

This is my attempt at the project for this section – my portfolio site. It should look like this…

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…there are a few things I will fix up at some point and maybe one day it will be a full on site!

Overall, it was worthwhile taking the time to go back and complete the How to Make a Website section. I have about 2 weeks left of my free trial with Treehouse but I will be paying the $25 USD to continue learning. Also, you can pause your enrolment where you aren’t charged until you resume your enrolment. Cool idea.

If you think you might be keen or would like to try it out, help me by using this referral link http://referrals.trhou.se/libbyschumacherknight. For every person that signs up I can get 20% off my monthly subscription! That would be cool!

Coding online – YOOBEE: HTML and CSS Beyond the Basics

yoobee

I have been working through Yoobee’s online course ‘HTML and CSS Beyond the Basics’. It has covered using wireframes to design your site to ending with responsive design.

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There were 7 sections in total and I learned a number of things. What I am particularly happy about is learning more about responsive design.

Some screenshots…

… positioning, typography, hybrid layouts, CSS downdown menus and different ways of creating buttons.

The final project was to create your own site based on your wireframe from the first lesson. My aim was to create a CV/resume site for myself.

Here is my original wireframe (done in Photoshop) and my adjusted one after doing more of the course (done in Pixlr Editor – great online photo editing tool).

Screenshots of my final site:

I tried to make it a responsive design, which works when making the browser window smaller. However, I have hosted it up on Google Drive and Github and when I look at them on my iPhone it is not coming up with the mobile layout! I’m not sure why this is, anyone got any ideas?

I had a thought that there must be sites out there that can imitate what a website would look like on different devices and with a quick search found this site – http://quirktools.com/screenfly/, you can paste in a website url and change the device and also share that link. Of course you can do the same thing using the developer tools in Chome or Firefox, although I have found Chrome a bit of hassle as I go down in devices sizes, sometimes it doesn’t load the responsive design.

Overall I enjoyed doing this course. The video tutorials were good and activities/tasks useful. I liked that the aim was for participants to have built a site (even if one page) by the end of the course. I personally like to create sites rather then just go through learning of the code without an tangible outcome. And I got a certificate!

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The online course was run using Moodle and again it is a great example of how Moodle is an excellent platform for a completely online course – easy to use, navigate and communicate.

I have now started with Treehouse with a free trial. Have picked up some good theory, deeper understanding of how CSS selectors work already.

Preparing for Enspiral Dev Academy

This year I am on a journey to learn to code – like really learn to code. I have taken leave from school and have enrolled in the Enspiral Dev Academy.

Just before Christmas I got an email from them about starting the pre Phase 0 prep, so I have started looking into what will be best for me.

I started with learning some basic HTML/CSS when I started teaching unit standards at Level 2 back in 2010. Using tables to do  page layouts (rather ugly and hard to work with), to in 2014 learning more about CSS, elements, divs (with it also being the second year of teaching achievement standards at Level 2!).

In 2014 I had quite a step up in my coding/programming experience. In March I attend the RailsGirls Wellington weekend, which was an explosion of coolness. Due to the requirement at school to teach programming in our Level 2 course, I also completed, in the first semester, the Introduction to Programming (Python) via the University of Canterbury. Made myself a bit sick doing this but completed it and rather happy with how will I did.

Once I started exploring the idea of doing the Dev Academy seriously I started doing some stuff on Codecademy. I preferred doing the HTML/CSS course rather then the ‘Make a website’ option as it made more sense to me doing stuff in order. I also started on the Javascript course. I found it a bit tendency and basic in what the content was but this was maybe due to having a good base already.

I than started having a play with the HTML/CSS Code Avengers course. Again, I started at the beginning and found the interactive layout more suited to me then Codecademy. I like it because it outlines when you start what everything is and where to find help. It gives hints in the tasks and output examples of what you are creating. I found all of these useful when I got stuck at particular points. As I went through the Level 1 course, even though I knew most of the stuff that it covered, there were a few little things that I picked up that I thought would be useful. It also outlined industry standards or expectations.

In December 2014 I attended the Computer Science 4 High Schools conference in Christchurch, run by the Computer Science department at the University of Canterbury, led by Prof Tim Bell. During this I was able to attend a few workshops, one of which was with Mike Walmsley, the creator of Code Avengers. We did some stuff with Game Development in Javascript (which can be used for NCEA Level 1/2/3 programming) and did a fun challenge with JS. I can imagine that the camps they run would be pretty cool. The game development was cool as well, as you could deploy it and send out the link (see previous post on CS4HS).

The other workshop that I attended was run by Tanya Gray from Gather Workshops – jQuery Taster: Enhancing Websites with jQuery. I found this lots of fun. As the information was online I was able to go a bit ahead as there were different levels of experience in the room. I found this really useful. It was a lot to get done in a couple of hours but doable. It was exciting to add some cool stuff to a site – here is my attempt.

With both of these workshops, even though they were great fun because of the interactivity, it would take me a lot of time to create something similar by myself, as I don’t yet feel I have the knowledge OR understanding of how it all works to be able to create something from scratch. This is the gap in my own experience/knowledge that I want to fill.

I have also had a look at CodeSmashers. This is a new start up that is looking to fill a gap in helping people learn to create their own websites. They use HTML/CSS with a bootstrap framework and by the end of a weekend you can come out with a cool looking site. You may not have a complete understanding of how and why it works the way it does but it is a pretty cool start and there is also an online platform for help from the tutors as well as other participants from your course and all the other courses that CodeSmashers have run. It will be exciting to see where they go next.

Another online course I have access to is Yoobee’s HTML AND CSS BEYOND THE BASICS. I have found this useful in thinking about how I want my site to look as the first task is going a mock up. However, they use a lot of videos and don’t have an online coding area. So the tasks you compete in a text editor then you upload what you have done to a forum and get feedback. By the end of it I should have a good looking site and hopefully learnt new stuff.

Now, back to the email from EDA for the pre Phase 0 prep and where to from here. They have recommended a few sites:

I have done both the Try Ruby (which was okay but a bit strange in how it worked) and Try Git (loved this, the way this was layout and worked was great for me!).

So, the question is where should I go to from here? Have I done enough in HTML/CSS? Should I jump into Ruby or JS first? Which resource should I go for? Should I go back to Codecademy or Code Avengers and start some of their courses further along and skip the basic parts?

What online training have you done? Do you have any recommendations or advice?

(This post is hopefully the first in a few. Planning on updating about online resources I have used once I have completed the prep phase).

Python – I have survived!

At the beginning of February I enrolled in the University of Canterbury’s first year paper – COCS121, Introduction to Programming (using Python). I decided to take the plunge as in our Year 12 Digital Technology class we are going to be teaching Python in Term 3 and I have never done any programming whatsoever!!

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I decided I needed a course where I would have deadlines that had to be met. If I had just used an online resource like codeacademy, it would have been too easy to not to do it. Also, I like to interact with others and with the UC course we would have a tutor and tutorials plus able to use forums to talk with other students.

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Tim Bell and his Computer Science department at UC are working hard to support digital technologies teachers and they offered this course as an online option for teachers. (UC also paid the cost of the paper!) Twelve started at the beginning of the year and five of us made it to the final (written) exam.

It was really full on and hard work. I had thought it would be maybe 5 hours extra work a week but for me it was probably more like 10 to 15. With having no background in programming I had to find the time to watch all the lectures, do all the labs and complete all the assignments.

I think the only reason I was able to finish the course was all the support I got. From my partner (lifesaver!), from Jack Morgan our online tutor and from Tim Harford – my DT colleague at school and I also connected in with the UC Computer Chicks Club. We had online tutorials two times a week with Jack, who was great, patient and really good at helping me solve problems. Tim was fab, he sat with me most Tuesday mornings before school so I could bounce ideas and questions off him and talk about what was working and what wasn’t in the programs I was writing. I know I would not have been able to finish this course if I didn’t have all of this help.

Positives out of this (besides completing the course and getting a good grade) are that besides the stress I really enjoyed it. It was exciting and interesting being a student again, it has made me think about my teaching and the students in my class. It has made me think about having extrinsic motivations –  deadlines, grades etc – credits. However, it would be interesting if I was a student in an environment where learning was the final goal – not completing a course. In such an environment I may have made a program that I wanted to, rather then ones about words and word counts!

Even though I did enjoy the whole course and was really excited when I got things to work, I think it would have been better if the assessments were interesting. Or perhaps does there need to be a set formula when teaching the basics of programming? And when teaching such a large group? Something to think about and explore, particularly when we are just about to start teaching Y12 students at an all girls’ school.

Another thing that would have been good would have been working collaboratively. However, again with the set up of a first year uni paper, perahps this would be too hard, as assessments are individual so how can you be collaborative? Perhaps this is something that occurs later on in a university setting. I would like to think about how we could make programming collaborative in NCEA but again have the hurdle of assessments needs to be jumped over. Is anyway out there doing collaborative programming with NCEA assessments?

I have now ticked off part of one of my goals – Goal 3: learn Python so can teach effectively and engage students in this learning area – I have done the learning bit! I hope I can do the next part! Who else uses Python in NCEA for the programming / planning standards? How do you go about teaching it?

Now that I have had the time to process and reflect on the course (and get over illness following the course!) I can see that taking on this learning was a mammoth task while teaching full time! I recently joined a group on Google+ called Code Club for Teachers and was looking at the Code.org activities that people were completing and posted a question “How do you all find the time?”. I had a think about this yesterday and decided that I used up all my spare time (and energy) for the whole year in the first half of this year completing COCS 121! So, I’m going to take a breather for the rest of the year and not run head first into doing extra things – even if they look like lots of fun and could be useful!

So, what do you think about the questions I have formulated in this post – does there need to be set formula when teaching the basics of programming? Does it make it easier when teaching a large group? Can we introduce collaborative work in NCEA with programming? Are you getting students to work collaboratively? Are you teaching Python? How are you teaching it? Or are you are teaching another programming language? If so, what language and how is it going?

#edchatnz and principal challenge!

Thursday 3 July, one day till end of time and has been a fabulous #edchatnz session. So cool having so many educators so enthusiastic just before the end of term.

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If you don’t know what it is have a look, get involved and get excited!! You can connect thru the Twitter hashtag #edchatnz, following @edchatnz, following the founder @MissDtheTeacher, blog – http://www.edchatnz.blogspot.co.nz/, and Google +.

Challenge stated with this Twitter conversation:

then

Really like this idea as leaders have such an influence over how the rest of the school acts, develops and flows.

And have just remembered that there were already two of four SMT (the DPs) on Twitter and actually I encouraged two that are acting to get on. But they are all pretty quiet. How can I encourage them to engage in Twitter and build their own PLN?

Now, how can I hook my principal in? Maybe find out what she is really interested in at the moment to do with education, the school?

Got any ideas to help me lead change? Please leave your idea or tweet me!

#hackyrclass – setting the scene

Today was my second lesson stepping up to the #hackyrclass challenge. After reading Steve Mouldey’s blog and having a good chat with a couple of colleques last week I decided today to lay the ground work with my class. I felt I needed to make it clear to them what I was trying to do and why.

I created this Google Presentation to explain Growth Mindset and co-construction. I was intending to do enquiry learning as well but as I only came up with the idea of the presentation the period before the class I ran out of time! Whoops!

They got it! Some more then others but definitely felt they understand what I was trying to explain. Some seem really excited about – these students will really push themselves and me. Some will challenge themselves but might not go all out – they will still learn a lot and grow their own learning. Some, I think, aren’t too sure what to make of it and it will be interesting to see how they go.

What was really exciting for me was that I had a short but in-depth conversation with three students about the moral and social aspect to do with drugs / alcohol. I am excited about what learning will happen.

I also felt really uncomfortable at one point when I was talking about the growth mindset – I realise (I said to my students) that maybe what I needed to do was let the other teachers at school know what I was doing and invite them to come and visit my classroom. We will see what happens with this idea!

Pretty excited so far about #hackyrclass.