A Semester In Review

It is always easier to judge decisions, and events in hindsight.  This capstone class is no exception, there are skills and knowledge that I know now based on my experiences in this class.  There are 10 specific items that I wished I had known before the beginning of the class.  While I had already a pretty good idea on how to go about writing a research paper, due to an extensive paper for my AP American History Class last year, Capstone provided me the opportunity to expand this knowledge, and apply it in a different area.

  1.  Even though Capstone is second semester senior year, getting behind by not doing your work is extremely bad for an extensive research paper.
  2. If I had begun to think about a topic sooner than when it was necessary I would have had more time, and freedom in the process.
  3. Use the time given effectively.
  4. Do not procrastinate, the due dates came up faster than expected.
  5. Do not be afraid to ask for help, you should always talk to your peers and teacher to see if your idea, and research direction is viable.
  6. Make sure to actually do some quality research, otherwise you will not be able to write your paper.
  7. Stay organized, write down all the sources you use, and the information on the source, the paper will write itself. s
  8. Know that the class moves very slow for the first quarter, then picks up pretty drastically, but it is very doable.
  9. Embrace the class, it is very necessary to have these skills in order to succeed in college, so try to learn them now, instead of just pushing off your Capstone responsibilities.
  10. As long as you are truly interested in the topic you choose, there is nothing to worry about.

Finally, as some final feedback, I would just like to point out some of my opinions on the overall aspects of capstone.  I thought the class was set up in such a way that made exploring the topic that interested you, quite accessible  and made the class more enjoyable since you were able to research what you want. Additionally, I enjoyed the fact that the teacher made herself open to help with, and provide feedback on the paper, as I wrote it.  This made the process less daunting.  On the same track, I appreciated how the paper was broken into chunks, this made a long assignment seem more like a plethora of smaller assignments.  On the negative side, there was an outstanding amount of busy work that I felt held back my research.  This may be because I have already written a research paper and some of the basic tasks we completed felt very repetitive. I was disappointing in the output of some of my peers, what they accomplished in a semester, I fell that I could accomplish in two weeks. Finally I was dissapointed with the in the capstone night, the concept seemed great but the execution was not what I was expecting,  it seemed like a let down.

Overall this class was a positive experience, and I am glad I took it, thank you Mrs. Taylor.

Capstone Night Review

Capstone night was a rewarding experience.  I found it quite enjoyable to be able to present my research that I have spent the past semester collecting, to an audience who was truly interested in what I had to say. In addition to the community reviewers being interested in in my topic, I felt for the most part that the other students in my group were overall more interested in my topic than the majority of the people in class.

I did feel that I was able to give a better presentation last night than I was able to deliver in class. The closer setting really played to my benefit, and really allowed me to show off my app.  I believe that by really getting a chance to show my creation, I was able to better represent my topic.

I felt slightly disappointed because even though my reviewers were engaged and asked questions, they did not seem very enthusiastic.  For instance, even though the members in my group and I introduced ourselves  the community reviewers did not.  It was a little strange to be presenting to two adults for about an hour, and for them to question us, but not even share their name, or what made them qualified to review us.  This problem may be a specific problem that I faced, but I would have enjoyed the process much better if the reviews were more open.

While organization can be a hurdle, I felt that the evening was run quite well.  I would suggest however to make the presentations similar to the science fair.  What I mean is that I think that it would be nice to try to be able to set up all the groups in one or two rooms.  The judges would than circulate the room, and still just listen to three presentations.  But this setup will allow us, the students, to see our peers work.  I was disappointed that I was not able to see other topics other than the subgroup that I was paired with.

Overall, I did enjoy capstone night.  I am glad that I took this class, and was given the opportunity to undergo another research paper.  Even though capstone night is the end to my research I hope to continue to spread the information I learned along to more people.

School On A Cloud

In February of this year, Sugata Mitra delivered a TED talk on the future of schools. I found this quite interesting.  The idea is that our present day schools are a product of imperialistic bureaucracies. By posing questions and giving children access to finding answers, children will supposedly “teach themselves.”

I do believe that this approach has much merit.  Children are naturally curious about how the world works, and given the means will spend time to uncover those answers.  The problems that I can foresee is that it will come to a point when the child is not interested in continuing, and there is seemingly no negatives for this decision.

While watching this talk, I was reminded of other schooling systems that I have come in contact with via my travels. For instance in New Zealand,  kids go to school year round.  This basically means that they go to school for two months, and then get one month off.  While I was young at the time, I liked it a lot better than the system that is currently being used in the United States. Another example is the Israeli school system.  Their high school is set up more like a university, where students get to “major” in a field.  Depending on the major that they choose, will dictate the amount of classes they are required to take.  I think that this is a good compromise for right now between cloud schools and the current system.  Students can still explore what they are truly interested in, and have more independence, but there is still some supervision, and direction.

Finally, one last thought, is about learning styles. It has been proven that different people learn in different ways. This is what distinguishes good teachers, they can adapt for auditory, visual, or hands on learning.  Take away a teacher, and now some one who learns best by doing it, will lose that direction from the experienced voice of a teacher.  This may all be just because I have become part  of this system and cant really do this kind of learning because I am burnt out in some areas. These techniques would need to start early and be very adaptable.

Preparing to Present

As time dwindles, the date of my presentation is approaching fast.  As I begin to prepare for this final aspect of my Capstone class, there are some final hurdles that I must figure out how to overcome.  I know that because of my background with computing, I will probably know more background knowledge, and have more experience in this field than my peers.  Because of this I will need to figure out how to discuss the technical aspects of app development at a level that my peers will understand.  I will need to practice presenting this information to others.  This will show me whether or not my classmates will understand some of the information that I am presenting. There are other concerns  that I must take into account, before I can present. I am almost there.

In order to keep my audience engaged, I hope to be able to relate my presentation of mobile app development to their mobile app usage.     By using popular apps as examples, my audience my be more open to the concepts that I am presenting.  Also, I am making an Android app for one of my other classes, hopefully I will have a working prototype done for my presentation.  Not only can I discuss from personal experience about creating an app, but I can both show the final product, and the process.  This specific visual aide will significantly drive home the concept of mobile app development.

While I have not begun to create my physical presentation, I have started to think about it. I will most likely use either Prezi or PowerPoint to make a presentation.  Since I am pretty familiar with this topic, especially after writing my capstone paper on it, I feel confident in my knowledge base.  However it is still necessary for me to practice presenting, in order to make sure my time management is right, and that I cover all the information that I was hoping to.

I think that my audience will like my presentation, and find it very interesting.  I am bringing attention to a large component of society that the vast majority of my peers take for granted.  By displaying something that I have made my self, hopefully mobile applications will seem less distant to my peers.  Ideally after hearing my presentation, I can inspire at least one person to go home and create their own app as well.

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

light-at-end

Today is a transition day.  It marks the end of one section of my Capstone class, and the beginning of another. The final research paper was due today.  Since I have now completed the writing component of this class, having turned in my research on mobile app development, I need to now start thinking about turning my new found knowledge into a presentation.

I have talked about creating my own app, but now I have actually started. I will hopefully have a working beta version in time for my presentation.  I am actually creating this app for another class, it just so happens that these two projects overlap.  Because of the time and complexity of this process, I am not working alone.  I am working with two other people. One of them will work with me do develop the code for the app, while the third person will create the art and animations for the game.  We have decided to us the game engine Andengine. “AndEngine is a broad 2D game engine which allows game developers, both experienced and inexperienced, to develop games for the Android platform with ease.”(AndEngine Blog).  We are planning on creating a simple platform game.

While I have enjoyed this process, there are some things that I wish I knew in December, before I began to write.  I wish that I could have had time to experiment with app development before writing the paper, thus giving my self more ethos, and making it easier to relate to what I was writing. Knowing know the amount of time that I was given to research, I would have been slightly less ambitious in my question choice.   I felt very rushed during this process, especially while completing my research.  I am glad that I am finished, and feel both accomplished, and now know so much more.

I look forward to the rest of the year and what it entails.  I have already begun to work on my presentation, and am excited to present my findings with my peers. Hopefully the app I am making will add a nice emphasis on my findings.

 

Is Google Enough?

The internet is extremely vast.  Most people don’t stray from the few websites and services that they are familiar to.  TED blogs published a list of 100 websites that people should know and use, but don’t. I was very intrigued after browsing through a selection of the provided websites.  Two of these websites stood out to me for various reasons.  The first was Udacity, and the second was Change.org

I have always been a math and science person.  I even plan on studying either computer science or engineering in college next year.  For these reasons I really took a liking to Udacity.  Udacity is a science based educational website, where people can post courses, like physics, computer science or math.  These virtual classes range from high school level, to post college.  It seems like a very valuable resource for someone like me, who both enjoys these topics, and will probably need to utilize next year.  I agree with their model , that in person lectures are coming to an end, sites like Udacity will become more common, and more vital, the sooner I use it the more apt I will be to succeed in the future.

 

Change.org is a very different sort of website, that fills a very different niche.  This website supplies a place for small time activists to start petitions, and gain momentum.  I applaud their efforts, and it seems like a valuable website, but unfortunately it seems inefficient.  The published succes stories were far less than the actual amount of proposed petitions   In addition, there were quite a few causes that seemed trivial to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is an awesome website, but I think that it can be managed better, and better filtered.  In our affluent society it seems to me that some one will reach out to us with a need, we will feel bad, for 10 minutes and through money at it.  It is time that people started to care about issues like the environment, or equality, or ending hunger.  Change.org seems like a great start for accomplishing some major good in the world.

Major Progress

google-play-logo

Over the past two weeks, since my last post, while I have been on spring break, and accomplished much in terms of my research paper. I have finished my rough draft for the body of the paper.  In this section I focused on answering my sub-questions, in order to have a better understanding of my overall question.  I tried to answer how to take an idea and turn it into a successful functional app on the android market. I identified three major phases to this development, design, develop, and distribute.  Furthermore, I broke each phase down into a greater level of abstraction, and looked at specific components that relate to the overall phase.  For instance, in the design section, I attempted to answer what about a UI, user interface, is successful, and makes sense. In the development section I focused more on what previous knowledge and setup is needed to code, I did not attempt to teach the reader how to actually code the app.  With much more sub-questions like this, I believe that, I have successfully, and accurately analyzed a good way to create android mobile applications.

android-development-lab

I have made significant progress these past few weeks, but there is still much I need to accomplish before my final draft is due.  In addition to writing the final section for the paper, which is the conclusion, I need to go back and do some major editing.  I know that I have left out key support for a select few of my arguments.  In addition, it is always possible to polish writing, and remove any missed grammatical or logical errors that may appear. I still would like to go back and do slightly more research to tie up any loose ends that I may still have.  While I have collected and recorded all the sources I have used, including the two interviews I conducted, I need to compile all that information into my annotated bibliography.  Even though I still have quite a daunting amount of work ahead of me, I am proud of the work I have done so far, and am amazed at how much I have actually discovered about mobile app development. I am still looking forward to the day where I can put this knowledge to the test, and discover how insightful this is in making an app.