Infinite Monkeys: Part II

So yesterday I was writing about creating an app (short for software application) for teachers using MS Paint for Grade 1. I’m still working on it and since Kevin asked for a debrief on the software I thought I’d write another post on the process of building this app.

So far, there have been two areas of concern for me. The first has nothing to do with the software, but with the surprising lack of good lesson plans for MS Paint at Grade 1 that are on the web. Honestly, I feel we should have a mooc just to create quality technologically based lesson plans for other teachers.  Lots of teacher websites saying that MS Paint will help improve fine motor control and using the software is part of their technology plan but nothing that actually guides/informs other teachers about how you can accomplish that using Paint. (And what happens if you’re in a district that can’t afford a technology specialist?) So other than the ICT curriculum documents saying “Thou shalt use Paint!” if you’re not comfortable using technology where are the resources?

Now onto the app building program Infinite Monkeys. It is easy to use, if you know how to attach RSS feeds from your various websites. I eventually found the solution to solve my YouTube RSS problem. You need to create your own channel with a distinct user name. This means you have to disconnect your Google+ account from your YouTube account and create a user name for your channel. It is that user name by itself (nothing else- no http, no www, etc.) that hooks your channel to the app builder when using Infinite Monkeys. The down side of it is that when you hook your channel to the app, it is only going to show the videos you’ve created not the playlists you’ve compiled. So all that work to attach my channel and none of it has anything to do with teaching MS Paint skills.

The other aspect of Infinite Monkeys I find frustrating is how quickly it becomes unresponsive. While I’m searching for solutions to various problems like locating an RSS feed the platform shuts down and you have to log back in. Not that this is difficult, just a click of a button, but when you are attempting to fine tune and see exactly what each link displays this can be a real time waster.

Finally, lets talk about the different links you can attach. You can only attach 9 elements and you get to choose from a variety of different links- Twitter, YouTube, your blog, documents, websites, etc. so there is a wide range of options. If you were to use this for self promotion for example, this is a great tool. If you have lesson plans already created with documents, forms, videos, a specific website, etc that can be downloaded, it is also amazing. But if you’re trying to create a compilation of other work that is out on the web (because do you really wish to reinvent the wheel every time?) this is a difficult platform to use.

So if I was going to do this again ( and I might- I now have my own YouTube channel!) I would structure the process differently. Much like creating any unit plan, I would have to decide what specifically the app would teach, design the assets separately and use the app to compile all the links as a whole. A lot of creating/making to do to make a truly worthy app.

On reflection, to make a solid MS Paint unit, I would need to create a video for students and a video for teachers. My choices are limited right now to my channel on YouTube (no Animoto, GoAnimate or PopcornMaker for instance, unless I found a way to link directly to what I have created using those platforms), my blog, the creation of a Word document where I could compile all the links, a web link to a curriculum document (but which province or state?), probably a Thimble page on the topic and perhaps my Twitter account if it was relevant.

However, you can just build a website using Thimble or Weebly to compile all the necessary elements that already exist and spend your energy creating good quality lesson plans. It may be the easier route for creating, displaying and managing content.