Adventures in teaching when you have no idea how to teach

October 9, 2014 Leave a comment

photoThings I have learned from my students.

Last night’s “Newbie’s Guide to HTML and CSS” class went much better than the first one, which is to say, I didn’t feel like apologizing profusely to the students as they walked, bleary eyed and slack jawed to the door. That was last time, when I fell prey to Librarian Information Expansion Syndrome and kept piling detail upon detail on them. This time, I glossed over details but tried to give a big picture overview of what these 2 languages do. This is a 90 minute class and that is just not enough to make experts out of beginners. So, I tried to impart concepts and then a few important examples, a little time for them to try it on their own and then I gave them resources to help get them started, like my fave, codeacademy.

They seemed to take pretty well when, at the climax of the class, I showed them how to link their CSS stylesheet to their HTML page and VIOLA! The future!…*nothing happens* cough, cough…THE FUTURE!…*still, nothing*. So painful. So, I know to test little things like that even though I’ve made that link a thousand times….

Teaching Beats to New Producers Using FL Studio

October 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Something I’ve noticed since the opening of the library’s audio recording booth is that many people who are very talented rappers have very rudimentary audio production skills. This is a shame because many times I see people recycling the instrumental beds of other, more established recording artists like Drake or Lil Wayne. This is unfortunate because it is limiting to  musical artists who want to claim their songs as their own and post them to social media sites that prohibit posting copyrighted material. Freestyling over mainstream beats is also the sign of amateurism in some circles and it is hard enough to stand out in the music world as an individual with a unique sound without a unique instrument bed.

This is my opinion and I decided to try some programs to address that situation. I have planned a twice monthly program utilizing an inexpensive Digital Audio Workstation that is installed onto 6 of the computers in the library. I have access to an overhead projector that allows me to walk students through the various windows and interfaces that aid in the creation of some phat beats.

At first glance the tool bar is pretty confusing, but I use a Powerpoint that only I can see to guide my students through the step sequencer, playlist and effects windows. (Dj Cafe). I use the Pharell Song “Happy” as an example of the different parts of songs. This song contains easily identifiable Verses, Choruses and Breaks and it is pretty tame content wise.

Robot Class!

September 17, 2014 Leave a comment
photo by: parallax.com

This little fella and six of his jerk friends made my life very hard yesterday.

I had my first robot class yesterday. It was a nerve wracking run up to the very end. I had to fight my way through panic and flop sweats when I realized 3 hours into prep that I was using the wrong damn robot! I was using the robot with the groovy Arduino Shield as my test when I should have been using the ActivityBot. Different Software, different interface different chassis UGH!

After skipping lunch and talking myself off the ledge, I realized that I was a damn fool for waiting so long. I’m glad the class wasn’t full because I didn’t get a chance to calibrate all the robots and some of them had motor issues. I also was not as familiar with all the handout material as I should have been. Many of the handouts were from the Parallax site and were very detailed and helpful, but a hair too in depth for my needs.

I want to make up some sheets that hit the Breadboard schematics for the LED, Piezo and servo configurations with big, brightly colored images. I then want to figure out a way that the robots can run still hooked into the computer. I need to compile the code sketches for each exercise into one folder and save that onto the shared drive (hear that, future self?). Tonight is the DJ workshop. I hope I’m better prepared for this one.

How to write a PSA script that doesn’t suck

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

stopsuckingI was honored to share the stage with my Library Brethren yesterday in presenting a little ditty I like to call “Stop that!” I introduced the concept of Librarian Information Extension Syndrome, L.I.E.S.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a MLS, I too struggle with that little insistent voice in your head that whispers “if a little information is a good and helpful thing, isn’t just one more little fact or tidbit of information even better? DON’T Listen to this voice, this voice is the corrosive enemy of good PSA writing, If you listen to this voice you will be a victim of LIBRARIAN INFORMATION EXTENSION SYNDROME. I am susceptible to this, I understand your pain. I wrestle with this problem every day. I have posted the slides on Slideshare.

3D Printed Raspberry PI Case

April 25, 2014 Leave a comment

I was lucky enough to be loaned a Raspberry PI computer from another department. I have yet to download the OS onto a SD card, but the first order of business was to print a hard outer shell for the thing. A Raspberry PI ships as a circuit board with a couple of micro processors on it, some hard wired slots and some Input/Output and you’ve got something to cry about if you ever dropped it.

Went to Thingiverse and downloaded this, made by Daniel Amesberger and modded the cover to include a logo.

The next thing to do is actually plug the thing in and get programming!

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What is an Arduino?

April 16, 2014 Leave a comment

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It is like a super tiny computer that you can program to do things, and it interacts with the world through electronic sensors, lights, and motors. It was made to be easy to use and the language you use to tell it to do stuff is simple. Plants keep dying? Use a moisture sensor to tell the Arduino to tell the clamp on a water tube to open for 3 seconds. With these little devices and some pre-written codes you can dream up all kinds of applications to make life more fun for both you and your plants. Many tinkerers, artists and at-home engineers have been using the boards to build so called “smart” machines that can sense when an event happens and tell motors or servos to take action. This technology is at the heart of the interconnected Internet of Things (IoT)in which objects and data can be joined together into useful automation. Science fiction? Science fact? Learn more and decide for yourself.

The Next 3D Workshop is on the books!

March 23, 2014 Leave a comment

I’m planning an extra special 3D class in April. Helping me out will be Mr. Ray of computer center fame. We are teaming up to bring you the best class so far. The class covers (as always) the basics of 3D design software, Makerbot buttons and maintenance, and the tips for a perfect print. What is extra special is that we will be focussing on building a customized Lego block!Image

More news soon!

Categories: Teaching 3D Printing
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