Good-bye Ballard, Hello Oakland!

I haven’t really used this website much in the last two years except to host some tinyurl documents for my students.  Schoology was the way I communicated most of my materials.  I’m going to try to back up all this material.

I’m sad to be leaving but feel fortunate to have landed a Computer Science teaching position at Oakland Tech.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve done this so I’m excited to explore how this curriculum has changed.

The summer will be exciting – A walk across Spain and then a quick turn-around in Seattle with a return to Oakland on August 15.

I’ll be blogging here.

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Hello Ballard!!

So ignore all the posts below.  You can read them, but they really have nothing to do with Ballard High School (my new home, Woohoo!!).  Also a lot of the links above don’t work – ignore these too.  They are two years old and WordPress has had a bunch of upgrades I haven’t need to fix until now.

I may occasionally post something here only because I know it’s easy to find (Mr. T Geometry still #1 in Google Search, another Woohoo!) and it doesn’t require passwords and such.

But in most cases, you are probably looking for Power School or Schoology.  For these, you’ll need your school e-mail and passwords.

The Schoology site is a little weird in that the first page asks for name and password but you only put in your name.  A second page will appear that will ask for your password.

If you can’t get into Schoology yet, here’s the pdf for the Algebra and Geometry syllabi.

And for my Algebra Class, here’s the link from the treasure hunt:

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What’s up Lakeside!

Thanks for letting me teach today.  Here are a few of the resources I mentioned:

Step By Step Tangent (warm-up) and Inverse Angle Problem

More Practice for both “Regular” and “Inverse” Angle Problems

Computer Science Scoping Notes

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Number of courses is astounding

Just those listed through coursetalk are overwhelming.  About 10 new classes per week starting each week.  Most of these are through Coursera.  A few through Venture Lab.  Most of the Udacity and other providers have self-paced models that can begin at any time.  I think I’ll likely pick one that starts in the next week or two and then pick another one that starts about half-way through the next one ending.  That way I get that constant excitement of starting a new course (assuming I have capacity for all of this with the new job starting).

I almost feel like it would be worth it to take a year off and just take 4 or 5 classes at a time.

Some basis notes:

Now An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python Coursera Rice *****
Now The Hardware/Software Interface Coursera UW First
Now 2.01x: Elements of Structures Coursera MIT First
22-Apr Finance Venture Lab Stanford First
22-Apr Introduction to Guitar Coursera Berklee First
29-Apr Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society Coursera Penn *****
29-Apr Technology Entrepreneurship Venture Stanford ****
29-Apr Generating the Wealth of Nations Coursera Melbourne First
29-Apr Mobile Health Without Borders Venture Lab Stanford First
TBA E-learning and Digital Cultures Coursera Edinburgh 3.5
TBA Videogames and Learning Coursera Wisconsin-Madison First
TBA Designing a New Learning Environment Venture Stanford 3.5
TBA Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application Coursera Georgia Tech 2.5 Cancelled
Whenever HTML5 Game Development Udacity
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A brief aside – Camtasia debuts!

A friend of mine needed some help with an excel task we had done a couple of times over the last few years.  I decided to document the process and test out Camtasia (which I should have probably learned long ago).  My take – Similar to MovieMaker but with screen capture – it’s possible the newer version of MovieMaker even has this feature.  And here’s the video.

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My Great Idea that started this all

Backing up, I had this brain flash the other day – there’s all this great content on the web but no one really knows which of it is good.  Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Yelp or TripAdvisor equivalent in the MOOC world.  Well it took about 30 seconds on Google to come up with .  It’s still not widely used but seems to be a pretty good clearing house for a lot of courses even though some of them have not been reviewed.

Just a quick look at this show that the key players (or at least ones that supply APIs) are

  • Canvas Network (23, Tier 2 Schools including Seattle CC, Most TBA – Actual website seemed to have a few more classes, some in progress, others with begin dates not listed on CT)
  • Code School (21, Most Self-Paced, Majority cost $25)
  • Code Academy (6 classes, all self paced, all reading, compiler and instructions side by side)
  • Coursera (315, Top Universities,  About half TBA, Some Signature Track cost $70 to verify it was you and get a verified certificate:  See my other blog entry.)
  • EdX (24, Harvard, MIT, UCBerkeley, Many TBA)
  • Udacity (22, Mostly Self paced unless a new class)
  • Khan Academy (23,  All Self Paced, Not sure if non-math ones have exercises)
  • Venture Lab (9, Primarily Stanford, Most TBA)






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First Week on Coursera + Signature Track

Finished week 1 of videos.  Most were about 10 minutes long with one embedded quiz. So about 2 hours worth of videos.  Would have like one more quiz thrown in per video (at roughly thirds) and then probably a review.

Took first quiz.  Five questions.  Combination of MC and MMC.  The Multiple Multiple Choice are partially graded so yet get/lose points for both right and wrong selections.

Fairly easy.  The one quarter point I missed on a MMC was one I was kind of leary about.  Opportunity to retake up to 4 more times prior to deadline.

As part of today’s work, I read some more about Coursera’s signature track.  This allows you to validate your person, validate that it’s you each time you take a quiz (through biometric keyboard typing-print), and get a more official certificate for completion.  This costs about $40 for this class – normally $70.  As only about a third of the 100 classes (guessing at numbers here) that coursera offers here provides this option, it might be worth signing up – I think I’ll wait another week and see how I feel about this particular class.


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My first note from the Penn (Wharton) Gamification class:

A game has:

  • Voluntariness
  • Learning or problem solving
  • Balance of structure and exploration

This is similar to my long-time quote about work.  One of the differences between work and play (especially if you love your job) is that you HAVE TO work EVERY DAY.  The non-voluntary nature is what often makes something work.

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For word press, I’ve always felt like I ought to be able to have multiple pages with each one dedicated to a particular tag or category.  I know you can pull up a list with all of these categories or tags, but it’s not really a dedicated page.

For now, I’ll dump everything on the main page and tag appropriately.

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A New Direction

This site has been my go-to site for seven(?) years now.  I created a few years after I started at Hercules.  I used it originally as a place for developing applications for my Geometry students and a place for my Web Design students to upload their work.  Eventually it became the clearing house for all the materials in the class including syllabi and my own private gradebook program (eventually I switched to PowerSchool once the district got it’s act together).  Most recently, per some advice from a “real” web designer, I switched to a WordPress format.  I’m still learning (and doing a lot of testing over at but I have a fairly good handle on the basics.

I left my beloved Hercules in January to join my wife in Seattle and have been using the opportunity to re-define my career.  I love teaching but think it’s important to re-invent ourselves every now and then and I feared my tech skills were becoming a little rusty.  As I began looking into the possibility of doing testing, game design, educational software, and e-learning I realized that I have been on the cusp of a revolution.  The MOOCs I have participated in were the opening salvos in a battle to re-define education. I have the unique opportunity not only to try a lot of these first hand but to also get content I am very interested in from them.

My goal is to do the following:  Define a “Graduate Degree” related to e-learning, software development, gaming, educational software, and anything else I feel I can bundle into a manageable program.  My first step is to survey the landscape of who is offering similar degrees (online or not) and come up with a list of possible courses the follow some obvious path.  The next step is to define a handful of providers that are presenting the defined classes in an on-line setting (free is not mandatory but preferable.  A couple of paid ones are probably good as it will create a better mix).  The final outcome will be 6-12 courses taken in various settings over the next year that will help me gain the “technical knowledge” while analyzing the experiential knowledge of how these classes are currently being provided.  A project or thesis is likely to be the ultimate goal.  This website will allow me to document the process and create a portfolio of proof when I start telling people I have a Masters of e-Learning from DMU  (Designed My University)

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