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I teach and learn with kids and adults.

Jacoby Young

Left of the Blue Wall

1 min read

I made this video for a language acquisition class using audio from the "Words" episode of Radiolab. This concept still blows my mind and I'm happy to share it with those who are unfamiliar with this incredible aspect of language.

Jacoby Young

Educators are Always the Shapers

1 min read

Good intentions or not. Preparatory or not. Progressive or not.

We, as educators, are always the shapers, molding in our own image and ideals.

Owning up to our intentions will prove to be both honest and productive.

" […] our programs of education are like crystal-clear mirrors of our own most cherished values. Whether we want our children to be constructive, analytical thinkers, or intimately aware of their cultural heritage, or positioned to acquire certain salary, or active participants in democratic process, or solemn devotees to the royal throne, or indoctrinated with our spiritual beliefs, education always aims to “dye” our children in our way of seeing the world.

Education is about us — teachers, parents, curriculum designers, and policy architects. It is the vital imperative for the reproduction of our value system, just as we inherited it from those before us. The pillar of every educational program boils down to the same creed of courage: Fear this. Don’t fear that. Pass this on."

-James Shelley, "Little says more about our values than our education systems"

Jacoby Young

Being 12: The Year Everything Changes - WNYC

1 min read

For those of us that have forgot what life is like at this age, here is a contemporary and heart-warming reminder.

Jacoby Young

Making and Choosing Great Apps in Education

5 min read

These recommendations come from the wonderful hosts Bradley Chambers and Fraser Spears of the Out of School podcast in episode 117 titled What Makes a Great Education App?. The content is all theirs, I just took some notes.

I feel like they covered the gamut of successes and challenges with apps in education. Without putting word into their mouths, I don't believe they meant these suggestions to exist as the be-all and end-all deciding factors for neither educators nor app designers, but the considerations provided are very sound. I definitely recommend listening to the conversation for yourself and perhaps twice as I did.

Here are their recommendations:

  • Don't include in-app purchases
    • make a separate app version (lite versions)
    • good example: Tap Typing has one with IAP and one without
  • Don't assume internet connectivity
    • issues of bandwidth
    • speed
    • correctness (web filters/site proxies)
    • block pages etc.
  • Don't assume YouTube connectivity
    • no instructional videos as embeds
    • functionality is gone when YouTube is blocked, as is in most schools
  • Don't base design decisions on what you remember about school
    • talk to teachers (may have great reasons for loving and hating the app/features)
    • enter schools
    • get real feedback from educators
  • Don't assume all users can read
    • some can't to the comprehension level
    • don't depend on too much text
    • use age specific vocabulary
    • don't use ok/cancel buttons
    • use delete/don't delete buttons instead of confirmation buttons
  • Don't use push notifications
    • becomes problematic for teachers when notifications pop-up during class time
  • Don't lock us into your cloud
    • use a universal cloud
    • bad examples: ToonTastic, previous versions of Adobe Voice
    • good examples: Explain Everything
    • we need to get work out of your app for portfolios
    • don't forget local file servers
  • Don't promote signing on Facebook/Twitter
    • users may not be of age to sign up for such services
  • Don't assume users are American
    • speaking apps (should include regional voices)
    • raises the question "why doesn't this app speak Pidgin?"
    • think about where your customers are coming from
    • regional app stores can deliver the right app to the right country
  • Don't get too difficult too soon
    • bring students along slowly
    • avoid early frustration
    • seek for winning streaks
    • keep enthusiasm high
    • calibrate the difficulty ramp
    • bad example: SliceIt
  • Don't assume your users have excellent fine motor skills
    • avoid slight variations in gesture and touch
    • bad example: Draw Racer
    • tiny pixel differences should not cause such wide differences in gameplay
  • Don't encourage students to shake the device to do anything
    • devices will certainly be more prone to break
  • Don't name your app sexual/derogatory name
  • Ensure inventory of ads are age appropriate
    • if flashing content, avoid very rapid ads for possible epilepsy
  • Don't be creepy with user data
    • data transfer must be kept aware of by IT
  • Be careful with location based services
  • Be fun to use
  • Prioritize stability over features
    • if app crashes, a replacement will be quickly found
  • Provide a guide for students and parents
    • in settings
    • on the website
    • give a teacher version of what students will be learning and how
    • good example: ToonTastic (teacher guide and parent guide)
  • Support data export on the device
    • don't go crazy on services
    • choose the most common (Drive, Dropbox)
    • allow converting this file into another
    • good example: iWork can send out as PDF, .pages, .doc
    • give ability to toggle on and off extensions
  • Warn users if files being exported are over the limit
    • iOS photos app won't allow certain sizes to be emailed
  • Think about how to motivate students
    • be mindful of what keeps students using and learning
    • game mechanics
    • good example: Math Bingo
  • Penalize random tapping
    • students shouldn't be able to tap through the game w/o learning
    • avoid random guessing if possible
  • Include the ability to record/playback user activity
    • useful for teachers to provide feedback to students
    • good example: Brushes (as you draw it records)
  • Consider localization
    • localizing your app may provide new sales
    • English and Spanish
  • Consider differentiation
    • good example: Garageband Smart Guitar vs. Guitar
  • Support projectors (different for screen and local on iPad)
    • Apple TV
    • Chromecast
    • Airplay/mirroring

Jacoby Young

New Tech City: A Glossary of Useful Ed Tech Terms - WNYC