Steve and I had the privilege to be guests on Kelly Croy's Wired Educator Podcast, Episode 128.
My brother introduced me to this great word puzzle game updated each day by the New York Times. It's a fun, daily way, to exercise one's puzzle-solving aspect of the brain. There is no leaderboard and no reason to cheat or look up answers. The fulfillment comes from achieving the 'Genius' level each day for finding as many words as possible that use the center letter.
I want to share the Slack integrations that we use all the time at Explain Everything to move work forward, especially given our complex organization. We have multiple time zones, locations, and languages to manage with a company of only about 50 people. Two of these integrations are bots whose automated reporting keeps everyone up to speed, two of these initiate action action and response, and the last one is more of a treatment of an included feature than an integration.
Bot 1: Salesforce
Whenever a lead is added, a record updated, or even better, a deal closed, our Salesforce instance publishes a brief summary to the (private) channel where our customer-oriented conversations take place. It's a great way to be able to check in on activity and be informed of progress in key relationships.
Bot 2: Jira Cloud
We use Atlassian's Jira for many of our teams to keep track of tasks and also to clearly delineate the connections across teams towards product releases and updates. We set up dedicated channels just for the Jira Cloud bot to feed information into because we learned that we have so many updates happening that it can overwhelm a channel where other, more human, discussions are taking place.
Action 1: Polly
There are probably quite a few polling tools available for Slack - and Slack may have their own by now - but we have found Polly to be the one we use for everything from planning events to getting feedback on product designs.
Action 2: Explain Everything
Whenever we need to visualize a discussion we just jump into a collaborative whiteboard. We use Explain Everything's built in voice chat because it's right there and automatically kicks in, though I guess we could also use Slack's built-in chat too, especially if video was important.
Treatment: Add Reaction
The 'Add Reaction' button for Slack messages is useful to add some color and demonstrate engagement without needing to type anything. You can see it in the screenshots from the other integration examples. This is incredibly helpful for asynchronous discussions. At the leadership team level, we have a shared understanding to use certain reactions to indicate a state of a message having been 'read' though not necessarily agreed or disagreed to. This way, the author of the post can know if the message at the very least was seen since often in the course of a few hours, any channel can become a longer scroll of text. This is especially true when working in multiple time zones. The ones below are 'OK' ones to indicate this.
I had a great time being a judge for the final pitches from Teachers College Innovation Awards 2019 which took place at TC's Academic Festival. The entire event was a great celebration of the work happening across departments at the college, and my department (Math, Science, & Technology) hosted some great parts of the program, including the Innovation Awards.
The last time I looked deeply into setting up notifications in Google Sheets, the options were either unclear or required creating custom scripts. Now, granted, this may have been over 5 years ago. I developed other habits and routines in order to keep track of various collaborative sheets, including setting up those sheets as Startup tabs for my browser so I had a constant reminder to check on them.
A question came up last week that prompted me to look into it again and sure enough, Google has introduced a version of notifications that is user-subscription based. That means an individual has to opt in (the document owner can't force notifications on participants). If it's with a small enough group, though, it's not too much of an ask to request that folks enable notifications especially when one of the options is a daily digest.
I have been one of the lucky educators to experience TED Masterclass from its initial launch. I had been exploring the materials in small bursts, but over the weekend I spent a more significant portion of time not only watching the videos but thinking deeply about my responses to the generative questions and prompts included in the course. I'm still debating exactly how I will apply my learnings to something in the near term, but I will certainly incorporate the many practical tips and guides for general speaking, presenting, and sharing ideas.
While in Wrocław, Poland last week I had my first experience with an electric 'scooter' service where you download an app, scan a QR code, and rent a scooter on time-metered terms. Not having a helmet, I hedged towards the slow side of the speed range of this vehicle, and only rode it in a wide open square (late at night) to avoid injuring any poor bystanders.
It was a delightful experience - from first locating a scooter on a map, sending a 'ping' request so that the scooter would make itself easier to locate as you got closer, to riding around, and ultimately parking. When you park, you have to take a picture of the final place. However, as one of my colleagues pointed out, you never actually can reference your own picture or others' pictures when searching for a scooter. However in the Lime app, there is a 'game' where you can judge the parking excellence of others. It was suggested to me, and I agree, that this is probably around some AI training so that the application can suggest better parking guidance when someone finishes a ride (i.e. to not block an ADA accessible ramp, for example).
Maya Man, currently one of the “Fivers” of Google’s Creative Lab Five (NYC location) spoke to my students about the intersection of art and coding.
As part of what she shared, we did an activity using p5.js, a very accessible interface for programming (it’s either inspired by or built using the Processing language - I need to understand this relationship better).
One activity she introduced was to look at interesting artwork and then to try and reimagine it by coding drawing actions using Processing. This is meant to be a beginner’s foray into visual art created with code.
She set up a still life for inspiration, and the image above is the code and the outcome of the orange that I focused on.
On a quarterly check-in call a few weeks ago with one of EE's team members whom I knew was a gamer, I asked what's the best thing he's seen recently. He said "Apex Legends." Now, I love playing video games even though I am not necessarily skilled in any particular genre or format. I just appreciate good game design and being immersed in interesting environments. I used to play Counter-Strike (nearly 20 years ago) and just loved playing with other people even though I was never very good. I somehow got to be around and observe the folks (in IRC!) who ended up creating an eSports website called 'gotFrag' back in the day (go [rdw]). I also like single player games with good stories. eSports and streaming continues to be a growing industry, though still not necessarily recognized much less talked about in most traditional learning and business environments (though some universities, like some pro sports orgs, are starting to create their own eSports divisions).
So I downloaded the free Apex Legends for my PS4 and over the next couple of weeks and learned enough not to completely embarrass myself. I also learned quickly that I will not be improve quickly enough to be like some of the experts who play because I do not have the drive nor the resilience to achieve that kind of excellence.
I was confused - then delighted - when one evening I was paired with two players - @da_olaf and @himmie_ who not only were speaking to me via the in game voice chat but apparently to an external audience as well.
This team proceeded to win our match with very little help needed from me. Soon after I left the match, I decided to investigate and understand what I had just experienced. Sure enough, I found @da_olaf's Twitch.tv channel (and subscribed) and learned that he and @himmie_ are frequent collaborators. I also learned that with Amazon Prime, you get one free Twitch.tv subscription (so if you have an Amazon Prime account and have never explored Twitch - use it one of these guys' channels! It's really interesting). I also found them on Twitter (hence the mentions in the subject line). I had not had a recent reason to be curious about this space, but now I am extremely curious.
I want to draw attention to this experience for a number of reasons:
And if you are curious about my what my gamertag means, it's drrsqrd = Dr. R. Squared
My EDU friends Holly Clark and Tanya Avrith made me aware of Tim Grahl's work a few years ago leading up the publication of their co-authored book, The Google Infused Classroom. Last week I learned that Tim was offering a discount and early bird promotion for his Book Launch program, and with two months until Make Yourself Clear releases, it seems like it could be good timing. I've seen some free webinars from Tim before and have always been impressed. You can learn more about this particular program here: Book Launch