ITP Camp 2014 report on National Maker Day

documentation, How-Tos, lessons learned, Travel Reports

National Maker Day

I started this post on National Maker Day, so here’s some info on that. The White House just released this: FACT SHEET: President Obama to Host First-Ever White House Maker Faire: A Nation of Makers: Empowering America’s Students and Entrepreneurs to Invent the Future. It’sFull of leads on grants and resources for Making in higher ed, and K12 here. And the White house had the first Maker Faire Day today:

ITP Camp 2014

I’m in NYC for three of the four weeks of ITP Camp 2014 telecommuting for Marlboro during the day as I refresh the skills I learned while at ITP in 2006-2008.  The camp is part of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in the Tisch School of the Arts. Camp is for folks who want to come workshops after work, and on weekends, in making, physical computing, digital fabrication, e-textiles, programming, etc. It’s like a mini-graduate school! But without the credit, or the loans.

Here’s my project, the Grass Saver Garden, v1, aka “The Plant Killer”

Here are my photos from ITP Camp 2014 Photos on Facebook

ITP Camp 2014 Photo Album Cover

ITP Camp 2014 Photo Album Cover

I’m focusing on skills around 3D printing, laser cutting and basic electronics with solar panels by making a project that uses all three called the Grass Saver Garden. The project is kind of silly, but it’s a learning project. Simply put, I want to have a solar powered raised bed garden that will allow people to grow a garden, without digging up any of their lawn.

Debrief: Vermont Fest 2013 EdTech Conference, Killington, VT

General, lessons learned, Reports
Mike Beardsley presenting a basic math lesson in MindcraftEDU

Mike Beardsley presenting a basic math lesson in MindcraftEDU to about 70, standing room only, attendees. 

Just back from the Vermont Fest conference up at the Killington Grand Lodge. Here’s a breif report.

  • Our own graduate students Michael Beardsley, Sally Bisaccio, and core faculty Jane Wilde, had the most popular, standing room only, session with about 70 folks! They presented on the stunning effectiveness and potential of MindcraftEDU in the classroom. Here’s the Presentation materials.
  • Attendance was down a little bit, no readily apparent reason why. As a VITA-Learn board member, I can report that we’re excited to revitalize the next VITA-LEarn conference, Dynamic Landscapes (DL), with a Maker room (Rasberry Pi, Arduino, etc), and more workshop type presentations vs. stand and deliver. There’s also a possibility of housing at DL this year, we’ll see. Make sure to come up to Burlington this May 15 and 16 for DL! Also, keep your eye on the upcoming 1:1 Conference. See VITA-Learn events.
  • The VITA-Learn party was fun, great food, went late, and had a sauna. The heated outdoor pool is salt water now and a great break after a long day of sessions.
  •, the software company started by teachers in New Zealand to organize Google Docs for Education was the most exciting vendor for me. Our own Elizabeth MacCarthy showed it off to me. It’s excellent, as I had heard. We’re to the point with Putney Central School’s Google Apps for Education that we need it. I think we’ll have it installed soon! I’m excited to set it up, and manage the change management that will come with it.
  • The tools I ran into around the conference that keep getting better are: GoAnimate, Toontastic, Story Arc, Shelfari, Voice Thread, MindcraftEDU, and using Chromebooks for 1:1 programs that need  to have prioritize low IT support time and offline editing.

Help! It's an online learning community.

lessons learned

Help! It’s an online learning community. 

A Brief on What Worked and what didn’t on a Technical Help Desk for Distance Learners at SDSU’s Department of Educational Caleb John Clark and Chris Haddock, Spring 1998.

Dates and Goals | Timeline | Results | Software

Dates and Goals:

January, 1998. Educational Technology Department, San Diego State University. The faculty hires graduate students Caleb John Clark and Chris Haddock to design, build, and staff a technical help desk for 25 online graduate students, enrolled in EDTEC 540 — Introduction to Educational Technology, and EDTEC 541 — Introduction to Multimedia Production. These two courses are the prerequisites for getting into the Masters program in Educational Technology.

The first goal of the Help Desk was to help online students with technical problems; such as, opening attachments, FTPing files, using the class materials sent on disk, accessing chat rooms, or completing their Director projects. For traditional students, these questions would be answered by the Instructional Media Lab Staff, but online students directed these questions to the professors who did not have the time or resources to help them.

The second goal of the Help Desk was to design and build a prototype Help Desk that could be expanded for use by all graduate students in the Department of Educational Technology.

The third goal of the Help Desk was to create an online learning community using discussion forums, listservs, Web pages and chat rooms.


Week Activity
0-2 Designed and posted Help Desk Web site. Opened Help Desk email account. Answered students’ email questions within 24 hours.
2-3 Set up forum. Manned live Chat Room from 3:00-4:00 M-TH.
4 Created listserv for all online students. No professors allowed.
12 Closed dead forum, list serve very active
16 Closed down for summer, let listserv die of natural causes after finals


Email provided the bulk of the technical support. Online students sent 120 technical questions between February. 4th and May 18th. We believe that our informal tone was largely responsible for success of the email (and listserv). Each letter started with a person’s first name, followed by a greeting. We deliberately attempted to make a personal connection with each student.

The student listserv was very successful in building an online learning community. 22, online students sent 172 messages to the listserv between March 2nd and May 18th. Again the Help Desk staff set the tone of the listserv with messages such as, “How’s everyone doing?” Posts included stories, poems, descriptions of the students physical surroundings, cries for help, venting of stress and family issues. Caleb and I were able to measure the “pulse” of the class by monitoring the listserv relating that information to the professors. The online students “officially” took ownership of the listserv when they coordinated their own study group and chats. As with most listservs, a core of about 10% of the users were responsible for 90% of the posts, with the remaining students lurking.

The Web site was the third most useful area of the help desk, with JobAids being the most useful part of the site.

The chat area was used for a few weeks during a mid-semester crisis, but was otherwise empty. The treaded forums were not used at all despite postings by the staff. This could be due to the fact that both classes had threaded forums and chat rooms that the students were required to use.

Telephone contact was made with three students after email and chat failed to solve their problems.


Web Site: GoLive Cyber Studios 2.03, Fetch 3, Photoshop 4.

Forums and chat: WebCrossing 2.0.

Listserv, Macjordomo 1.0, Eudora Mail Server.