From all angles

My work life and school life are both reaching critical junctures at the same time. At work, we’re nearly to the halfway point on a project to replace the learning management system, and at school, I’m preparing to complete the fieldwork for my thesis research. And while work is incredibly busy lately, I’m still scheduling time to visit 5th through 7th grade classrooms in the Portland area to have students use the maps I’ve made. I’m hoping to have 6 classrooms worth of students complete the map use activity, and so far I have 4, though one is big enough to be worth 2 classrooms. Now I just need to find another 1 classroom to evaluate before June 15th or so and I’ll have my data collected.

One challenge I didn’t quite foresee is that many schools have replaced the computer lab paradigm with the netbook paradigm. So every student has a mini-laptop with a wireless network connection in their classroom rather than going to a separate lab facility to use the computers. On one hand, this is great, but it also has created some challenges. These laptops typically have a 9″, 10″ or maybe even 12″ screen and typically do not exceed a resolution of 1024×768 pixels. This has been problematic because the software I picked to do my thesis uses at least 150 of those pixels to display test status information that is actually extraneous to my work, but I can’t hide it. I can’t change to a testing platform very easily because I need to collect both the student’s answer choice when answering a question using the map I created, but I also need to record how long the student took to make the choice.

I suppose I should have learned some actionscript and written a flash-based quizzing interface, but I didn’t have much luck with that. Plus, it seemed silly to reinvent the wheel, when at work I use and support software that accomplishes most of that already.

So here I am with the two worlds colliding on many fronts, and so very close to both chapters closing. Here’s hoping the fieldwork goes well. I’m so thankful that I’ve found teachers who are willing to share their class and time.