Friday, January 31, 2014

The New Semester / Zachary Griffin IT/Help Desk Assistant

     It's the new semester now, which means we now have our new influx of students showing up for the Andover Help Desk. It's been quite a busy week since the new arrival of students came into the Help Desk on Monday, there isn't a block where a student isn't learning about the newest innovations about technology, and that's exactly what Mr. Downs and I are excited about! Between working on subjects such as 3D modeling, Java, and HTML, there is nothing that the Andover Innovation Lab can't support its students on. 

         Among the many ways we approach to instruct our students, the most important focus they have is to use their own judgement on how a project should and shouldn't be. If a student wanted to develop a website, for example, it would be vital for him/her to use their own judgment on how that site should be handled. It's more than just creating a site, you also need to judge the work you've done, and commit to making improvements to them based on your own evaluation. Being able to self-evaluate is something the Andover Help Desk is committed to teaching its students. 

    As a recent graduate from a Technical Institute, it's in my interest to see our students going through a college like experience, from working hands on with their projects to learning how to take in constructive criticism to advance their skills in their desired field. Many of our students are seeking a future in a technology based environment, and if we can assist in guiding them to pursue that goal, I would say the Andover Innovation Labs help extends beyond that of an normal high school curriculum. It's been a pleasure working with these technology driven students, and I look forward to seeing how our future this semester unfolds. 

Instructional Technology Update Andover High School Week of January 27-January 31 2014 -Daniel Downs

This week at the Andover Innovation Lab & Help Desk we got off to a great start with the addition of 10 new students beginning projects using technology. The student projects range from learning Java, creating websites and also developing business plans for innovative products. In the next week we will be posting blog entries from the students describing their first week at the help desk/innovation lab.

Some of these students have been able to assist teachers in their role at the Innovation Lab/Help Desk  with a variety of technology. Students have assisted in setting up wireless projectors,adding email accounts to phones and downloading the Chrome browser on the new MacBooks.

Students at the Innovation Lab are also piloting the use of district based Google Drive accounts. Students in the lab will be urged to use these tools to assist in their research,share documents,videos,images. At the end of this semester we will ask students about their use of these tools and use their opinions to help develop a list of benefits these tools can bring to the district.

Photo:Help student Viabhav Patel installs PC for Innovation Lab students at help desk.

This week I worked with Adriana Gonzalez a teacher in the Foreign language department. I assisted Mrs. Gonzalez with creating shared Google Documents which contain her course homework. These documents enable real time updates of assignments and provides a consistent and reliable link for parents and students . Using a link shortener named we were able to also shorten the Google Links to personalize and shorten links. These links were then placed on the X2 portal.

Teachers are also beginning to use Google Groups to create collaborative web portals for students to ask questions,post comments and share acquired knowledge. The groups enable teachers to organize a collaborative web based environment on individual emails. Students and the teachers are sharing information simultaneously and are notified whenever someone adds to the discussion. These groups are widely used in higher education for collaboration I have included the link from Brown University who uses these groups consistently.

Link To Brown University Google Tools Site

Lauren Ream Social Studies teacher has ambitiously developed a blog to host her course materials this semester. Mrs.Ream has organized her course materials and hosted a variety of web based documents using Google Drive on her Blogger blog. Over the course of the semester she will have students commenting on discussions directly in class and will also enable students to share quickly and efficiently the course assignments and homework postings.

I was able to work within Mrs. Reams classroom this week and assist her with adding existing lessons and editing them to be posted on the blog. We also added students to become readers of her blog.  Her students blog posts engaged students with not only with learning technology skills but also improved engagement with her content. At the end of the class students could scroll through student responses and view a variety of opinions related to subject matter content. These changes will enable Mrs. Reams class to continue to develop  web based lessons and ready access to assessments.

In the coming weeks I will be offering out to teachers
more technology training after school to assist in understanding their MacBooks “System Preferences” and “Commonly Used Web Apps” such as Evernote and Skitch.
Additional training opportunity will include beginning teachers with Google Drive and Documents. I want to enable to teachers to improve their adaption of tools to their existing lessons and classroom environments.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Instructional Technology & Digital Learning Andover High School Week of January 21-24 Daniel Downs

With a shortened week the High school teachers were busy preparing for semester finals and prepping their classrooms for new students and new lessons using a variety of technology tools.

Multiple teachers have been creating Google blogger accounts which will include private access for just students and parents as well as linked web resources for increased student engagement. These blogs can be used to share video,documents,forms,surveys,photos of all types and access to these can be completely controlled and managed by the creator. I have also provided assistance with teachers just starting with Google Drive a better understanding of how they can use the cloud storage and use the sharing preferences of the documents to back up work and share more fluently with students and parents.

The continual updating of Ipad carts at the high school continued this week as Zach and I synced and updated the Ipads as well as the MacBook attached to the carts. This was beneficial for Ipads which need to some times be restored or apps need to be updated. This updating is going to assist the planned pilot of Net-Texts learning app which will enable teachers with Ipads to use Open Educational Resources(OER) to build and develop lessons from open source materials.

A cool infographic tool we have really employed at the help desk in the past week is . This is a great great tool for teachers as well for presenting ideas and concepts quickly with great colors. The tool also has easy to use templates and allows you to add text and symbols with ease. I have included a sample of how we have integrated them into the help desk below. Please email us if you feel you would like more info on using this tools.

At the Andover Innovation Lab and help desk we had Google Hangouts with the students to assess their project work for the semester. Eli Gukovsky and Viabhav Patel both presented. Eli had created a layout and template design for a Android Game App and Viabhav presented on the benefits of Minecraft for education. Both of these presentations can be viewed on posts on this blog. Students were required to direct the Hangout and present video artifacts and discuss their findings and experiences at the Andover Innovation Lab/Help Desk.

We are looking forward to an exciting beginning of the new semester at the help desk as we plan on adding 10 new students to the rotation. We expect to be working on some exciting new projects moving forward. Stay tuned for some exciting independant projects and student videos. As always we are assisting with the trouble shooting and integration of technology at Andover High School.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Andover Innovation Lab-Help Desk:Updating The IPad Carts- Zach Griffin

At the Andover High School, it is always in the better interest of the faculty to ensure that students are learning about the newest features in technology to assist them in their academic goals. This includes what king of the tools and resources provide the most convenient ways of doing this. While Google Apps is great software for students to work with, the Apple iPad's provide the appropriate hardware for students to work with. No longer are the days of old Mac computers that can hardly operate a class essential, now we have modern technology students can use to keep themselves up to date with the latest tools in the world.

Often times, teachers will have difficulty operating an iPad or the apps they use for teaching their classes. It is important to keep iPad's updated and charged, and the Help Desk is always here to assist instructors in their technology needs. Each day, Dan and I will tour around the school and offer our support to teachers with their technology needs, and the iPad cart is usually the one we are summoned to work on more frequently. 

While working on the iPad carts, the first thing you must do is to ensure each iPad is plugged in. The iPad carts we use have over 24 ports that each iPad is inserted into, and when plugged in, they not only charge the iPad, but also sync it with any material our laptop is installing. As the instructors at Andover High School require all of the iPad's to be up to date with the latest apps, it is important that we ensure they are all being synced with each other. It isn't a difficult task, but it can be time consuming, and considering the teachers at Andover High have very busy schedules, the Help Desk is more than happy to take care of any issues the iPad's are running into.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The SETT Framework: Evaluating Special Education Assistive Technology-TIE Technology-Holyoke, Ma

On January 14th, I had the opportunity to visit The "Technology in Education" Conference put on by the organization in Holyoke, Ma at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College. It was my first visit to this conference and was able to benefit from the small focused presentations made by educators predominantly from the western part of the state. 

I was accepted as a presenter for this conference and made a presentation to approximately 30 educators/administrators on the tools and resources for beginning a Mobile Application Development course. I presented using a Google Presentation but also included links to a website I am currently developing which contains all of the lessons I have created for the Bunker Hill Community College 
Courses Mobile App Development Certificate. I shared these resources and also a variety of videos students in my classes have made of apps made in a Project-Based Learning environment with technology. Here is a link to the resources and presentation.

After my presentation I had the pleasure of sitting in on a fantastic presentation from Dale Gardner-Fox, Jeanne Tuthill and Allegra Osborne. Their presentation "Are You SETT to go?" outlined the barriers to successful Assistive technology implementation in special education. They described the frustrating problems of choosing tools which don't fit students’ needs and abilities, lack of proper training, environmental factors as well as the timeliness and appropriateness of the assistive technology. 

The presenters described and outlined the "SETT" model developed by Joy Zabala( as a beneficial process to help asset in best implementing assistive technology. SETT stands for 
Students, Environment, Task and Tools. Each one of these elements are collaboratively evaluated in teams which take into account consideration of the student needs, selection of proper technology, a plan for implementation and a process for evaluating the effectiveness of the process.

The SETT framework counters several large issues with assistive technology:
1. Poor implementation and planning of Assistive technology.
2. Consistent and Appropriate Use of Assistive Technology
3. Due to cognitive weaknesses "Tech and Content" cannot be expected learning goals due to
Cognitive failure.
4. Helps avoid "learned helplessness"(when students perceive frustration to the adaptation to the use of technology).

The SETT framework is a four part model using a collaborative approach to using the technology we want to use in the special education classroom. The stakeholder team makes things happen and students in some instances can be part of this decision.

1. Student: When addressing the students’ needs with assistive technology it is important to carefully consider the selection of digital tools which take into consideration the needs of the student and how they will be implemented into the classroom.
·         The consideration and selection process should be continual and use the IEP as a guide.
·         Selection should be based on what the stakeholders see the student as being able to do.
·         What barriers and potential successes are available with the tools?  
·         Developing student motivation to use the technology is beneficial for success.
·         The most important factor with tools is that there is a plan for the evaluation of the effectiveness which is done with a team approach including all stakeholders relative to the student (paraprofessional, teacher, administrators, aides, parents). 
2. Environment: Determining the environment in which the technology will be used is also a critical component to the SETT framework. 
Data from the environment should be collected from a variety of sources:
·         Strengths and Concerns
·         Physical Barriers
·         Expectations of others.
·         Outside of school environment.
·         Possible low-tech adaptations
3. Tasks: What is the point of the Tech?
It is important to directly address the purpose of the technology and how it will be used.
·         Is it going home?
·         Is it connected to real goals?
·         Do the tasks learned align with active participation in all environments (communication, instruction, productivity, environmental control)?
An assistive technology plan helps keep accountability with the student.

4. Tools: The tools are the choice of devices, applications, computer/web based technology used in the classroom/home.
·         Devices should support learning, communication and social goals (Intellitools, IPad, Apps).
·         Services and training should support the staff and student needs.
·         Specific strategies should be in place to create motivation with the tools (music, writing, normative activities).

This framework enables a real evaluation of how assistive tools can be used and supported in the classroom. The critical components are that the major stakeholders are involved in the decision making process and an alignment of the learning goals and technology used is made as tools are chosen. This framework can also be used as a district strategy for educating staff on the evaluation of assistive technology by adjusting the model as a district vision.

S-Student=District Personnel
E-Environment=District Level Knowledge
T-Tasks=Staff Implementing Technology
T-Technology=Technology Both High & Low Tech

By replacing the variables of the traditional model with district staff a plan for educating your district with the beneficial strategies of assistive technology alignment can be gained. A critical role in this process is the district level knowledge of the importance of a plan with assistive technology and also the training provided staff for the implementing of the technology into the classroom.

Introducing Info Graphics to the Andover Innovation Lab Help Desk / Zachary Griffin / Easelly

    With the new influx of students the Help Desk is getting starting next semester, it is critical that we prepare with as many media tools as possible to ensure they understand the three different phases they must cover when they work on their projects. As the Andover Innovation Lab promotes consistent use of technology, having these resources available online to our students will help us reach that goal. Easelly is one of the many free tools on the web that we use, and definitely worth investing time into for anyone that needs to create a free and efficient visual theme. 

    Easelly ( is a info graphic design tool used for creating an image hierarchy that you can implement into any subject. For example, if I wanted to make a hierarchy about the food menu at the school cafe, I would simply drag and drop media images into the background and it's their! It's very simple to use, and does not require prior knowledge on image editing software to fully understand. Do you wish to create a chart or a bullet list for your next project? Easelly enables you to do this!

    As for my Easelly theme; I wanted to develop something that our new students could use when they need a quick and easy reference on the three different phase and final presentation outlines for their Help Desk project. Tools like Easelly and Google Docs assist us greatly in creating convenient tools for our students and since we are always encouraging them to create accounts on these various sources, it should be a major convenience for them to get a reminder on what they need to know about during this course. 

    Of course, Easelly is just one of the many major tools we use at the Andover Innovation Lab Help Desk, and it will always be one of the many tools we use as long as we stay on top of the current tend in the multimedia world and continue to use valuable online resources to our advantage. Our goal is not only to make things more simple for our students by using this software, but also to encourage them to use it themselves for their professional and personal life. I am looking forward to seeing how our students will implement these resources available to them on the web, and hopefully they will use them beyond the Help Desk.

Friday, January 17, 2014

First Experience With Google Hangout's At The AHS Help Desk / Zachary Griffin / IT Assitant

     Of the many useful tools Google provides, Google Hangouts is an icing on the cake, as it not only allows you to video chat with your friends and co-workers, but it also doesn't even require an install! As Hangouts is a Google app, you simply plug it into your browser interface and you can chat with your friends in seconds. As with all of the other Google Apps, Hangouts is completely free, and so long as you have a Google account, you have complete and unlimited access to its features. 

    On Wednesday at the Andover Innovation Lab, I worked with both Eli and Dan on a Google Hangout, where Eli showed us his work on his app that he had developed during his year in the Help Desk. Dan and I watched as Eli presented his questionnaire game using Google tools and other online resources for the presentation. In order to make Google Hangouts feel authentic, we were each put into a different room in the Library apart form each other, so it truly felt like it was a real professional online session. Eli did an amazing job, and hopefully other students and faculty will get a chance to watch the session on YouTube. 

     Viabhav, being another long time student of the Help Desk, also presented his project on Thursday, using Google Hangout. Viabhav was assigned to show Mr. Downs, Eli, and myself how Minecraft, a popular crafting video game, can be utilized in schools and provide unique learning curves for students wanting to learn professional fields in software development. Viabhav went over all the need to know information for people getting familiar with Minecraft for the first time.

    Video online sessions are very useful in that they allow you to get to know someone without having to either call them or meet them in real life. Jobs in today's market are pushing towards a more virtual based environment, and the Google Apps enable a lot of the most convenient ways for people to do this. As the next semester rolls in with our new group of students; the Andover Innovation Lab can look forward to doing several more Google Hangouts in the future.

Learn more about Google Hangouts here:

Link to our YouTube channel:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Instructional Technology & Digital Learning Andover High School Week of January 13-17

Instructional Technology & Digital Learning Andover High School Week of January 13-17
Daniel Downs

During a week in which most teachers are preparing for the end of semester exams many teachers are still working at integrating a variety of tools into the classroom. I had a chance at the last faculty meeting to present some of the components of using Google Docs with files and some of the benefits of collaboration with these tools. Being able to share these tools has opened up a variety of conversations with teacher’s which has extended from just creating Gmail accounts and exploring the collaboration features to developing Google Forms for Assessment in the classroom.

Teacher Highlights:

Teachers in Foreign Language are integrating variety of podcast tools in the foreign language department to help students learn language. Students can participate in lessons driven with native speakers and deep embedded vocabulary.

For the purpose of improving her connection to her students with web based content a teacher is developing a blog using the Blogger format from Google. She has developed a variety of lessons and media to support her existing curriculum. She will be rolling out the website in the new semester. I have had the benefit of working with her to develop the technology which supports her teaching methodology.

Teachers in the Social Studies department are in the process of reviewing web based tools in which to store and share links of curriculum content to share and collaborate with. Teachers were introduced to tools such a Wikispaces (, Portaportal (, Urlist ( and . These tools can add layers of productivity and collaboration between teachers. For the document outlining these tools click here.

Teachers are beginning to integrate Apple TV into their classroom environments either by projecting their desktops to their class or using the built in applications. Apple TV is an additional piece of hardware which enables “sharing“of Apple devices (IPad, MacBook’s, and Phone’s) to the projector. This technology is particularly beneficial to classrooms in which has access to the IPad or MacBook carts so that students can project their device as well. To learn more about this technology check out this page from Apple.

Co-Teaching Experiences
I had the opportunity to go back into Karen Stevens-Mazmans' class and teach a web design lesson using HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for a marketing webpage assignment she is giving to students. Students are creating promotional websites based on a product. Click here to see her lesson write up. Going into her classroom is a great opportunity to share my skills and deepen the skills learned in the Marketing curriculum. It’s great to see the student’s interest grows as they learn how to code and change the appearance of websites.

Andover Innovation Lab/Help Desk
Students are in the final phases of their independent technology driven projects at the Innovation Lab. We currently have a student creating a mobile application (Eli Gukovsky), researching Minecraft in Education (Viabhav Patel) and learning the programming language Lua (John Makiej). These students will be presenting their final projects during the finals week in an online platform. For more information visit:

Teachers are well into the swing of adapting to all the new technology provided to enhance their teaching and learning. Wireless projection and understanding the intricacies of their new MacBook’s  is beneficial to student engagement but we also want to continue a deeper level of integration of a variety of web tools such as Google tools, Workspaces and a variety of Ipad applications which enhances student understanding of core concepts. In the Science Department a recent influx of new applications for their Ipad carts has enabled them to demonstrate Physics, Engineering and core Physical Science content online.

These updates are just some of the continual evolvement that is going on with technology driven initiatives at the high school across curriculums.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Hour of Code Experience at the Andover Innovation Lab / Help Desk / Zachary Griffin

     When I first heard about the Hour of Code, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it. I assumed many of the students would be working on something that they may find overwhelming and it would turn out to be a very uneventful week. However, I couldn't have been more wrong. The Hour of Code proved to be a much more important experience than I would have anticipated. Our first role at the help desk was to assist Mrs. Reidy with creating a shared Google Form so she could communicate with all students efficiently. We also created the link ( so students could access the document with friendly URL. 

     Dan Downs and I worked in the Library and several other classrooms supporting large amounts we were assigned to during the Hour of Code. Our role was to provide students with the link to the Google form and to begin students with specifically assigned activities for the Hour of Code website. When working with these students, we had our students from the Help Desk like Eli, Viabhav and John assist us in guiding students through the various tutorials. Our Innovation Lab/Help Desk students provided pointers to student on how to use the code games effectively and provided necessary support to code newbies.

     Many of the students did not quite understand HTML, Javascript or CSS, so it was generally expected that they were going to struggle a bit. However, the links to the Hour of Code website that Mrs. Reidy provided made the lessons much more entertaining for the students. Some of these videos included navigating an Angry Bird character through a field using pre-built HTML that players would move over into a drop box. Indeed, the lessons were simple, but informative enough for anyone inexperienced in code to understand.

     Overall, the Hour of Code is something anyone should take a part in. It's both a great way to learn how to code and a good way of having a little bit of fun. All the students did an excellent job in providing students in working with the tutorials chosen for the Hour Of Code. Many of the Teachers around the school did a wonderful job proving support in teaching their students during the Hour Of Code.

If you are interested in seeing the Andover High School Google Doc used for the classes, click on the link below:

If you would like to learn more about the Hour of Code, click here:

If you learn the Hour of Code, you may also even be awarded with a certificate that you can add to your portfolio!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Experiences In Using Recording And Editing Software For Online Video Production - Vaibhav Patel

Creating videos is a really resplendent experience, but there is a lot of research that goes into it. The first steps that go into making a video are making a script and researching about the content that will be put into the videos. After researching and finishing the script, it’s time to record the video. While recording, there will be times when you mess up, and do it over again. Once done with the video recording, comes the editing part. Basically, this process takes a lot of time, especially the rendering part. The most frustrating parts are researching and editing (rendering).

I use programs like fraps or Dxtory to record, and after effects and sony vegas to edit the videos. Editing is what makes the videos look really good. Fraps and Dxtory export the video file as a .avi file, so I import them into vegas/after effects and make the video better by adding text, related images and adding effects to make the videos look cool and then finally i render it as a .mp4 file. These programs are not free, they do cost quite a good amount of money. There goes a lot of grammar content while creating scripts, such as making sure everything is structured in a easy to understandable way and spelled correctly. After everything is done correctly, watching the final product is fun!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Continued Development On An Adroid App / Eli Gukovsky

I have been spending a month here doing a lot of fun things. When I started doing this class, I expected a strict programming course, which I would smile and nod with, then go home and experiment with. Instead, I found that I could do all of my experimenting here, and I could get a feel for the technology that I wanted to learn in the same environment that I was actually learning it in. Mr. Downs and Zach have been nothing but kind and funny, with each of them having a very outgoing personality.
Early on, I decided to create a trivia game for Android, where the questions that are asked have no realistic answer that the user might know. This came as a combination of ideas from me and my friends. I love Android Design, so Android vs. iOS wasn't even a question for me. I've watched a lot of Android Design in Action (, so the design itself wasn't a problem for me. I created a design using a Google Slides designer I found online a while back, and I finished designing the app. The next stage for me is to actually code the app.
So far, I'm really enjoying this class, it's the thing I look forward most to during my day.

Coming Back After Vacation / Zach

     After two long weeks of not being at the Help Desk, I developed ways I could improve my skills in Multimedia and be able to share that information with our students. After receiving Minecraft as gift from my girlfriend, I will be in a better position to critique Viabhav's Minecraft mod project, as well as promoting Minecraft as a useful teaching tool for future students that participate in the Help Desk.

    My first week back from vacation has certainly been an eventful one, between the teacher conference after school on Monday with Dan's Google Doc's presentation and the adjusting to getting back into the School schedule, I am more than prepared for what it to come going forward at the Help Desk. I would like to approach this month with an ambition to teach our students new and innovative ways to learn critical thinking when applying themselves to modern technology.