When real learning and creating happens away from school
My name is Blake Copeland. I met Ms. Nielsen at Alan November’s #BLC10 conference last month and she subsequently mentioned me in her blog in a post entitled Just Say Yes to Publishing! Exposing The Man Behind the Curtain If He’s Still Saying No. Ms. Nielsen said her readers would be interested in how I learned to write an iPhone/iPod touch app and how we can use the same learning techniques in school. It is my honor to share with you a few of my thoughts...
Before I dive in, let me give you a little background about myself. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas (Go Cowboys!) and went to a classical christian school where computers and technology were not part of the curriculum. My interest in computers started at a young age; in second grade, my uncle helped me build a home computer. For me, maybe because it was the forbidden fruit (since I couldn’t use computers at school), I became more interested in technology and began working on our home computer in my spare time. In 6th grade, my friends and I began making movies after school and editing them on the computer. This was when I initially realized the power of technology. I immediately became interested in computers and began using them at home.
Fast forward three years later when I entered Highland Park High School. Halfway through the year, I finally had the idea to make something someone could use on a computer, or in my case, an iPhone app. I went to my high school to see if they offered anything that could help me create an iPhone app but they had no such program. I was alone in trying to build an iPhone app so I went back home and studied. I went online and taught myself the computer language, Objective-C. Two and a half months later, I released DayFinder on the App Store as an app that does date calculations and finds trivia about specific dates in history.
Takeaways from building my app
- Self study
I look at what I did as a self study program, where I gave myself permission to pursue the subject about which I was passionate. In many ways, the school already provides subjects that match up with students’ passions, such as science, math, history, etc. However, where students’ passions don’t match up, it would be great if the school could provide an environment where students could be educated and encouraged in their passions. The biggest challenge is finding enough students to construct a class in that subject.
- Applying knowledge
Real learning takes place at the point of application. In other words, learning takes place when the student takes what he/she has read or studied and puts it into practice in the real world. For example, I personally learned Objective-C not so much by reading and studying it, but by trying to put it into practice. To put this into the classroom, I think students could learn a lot more by having project oriented classes.
- School support was lacking
Part of the struggle I had with my “self studies” was that I had no one to ask questions (with the occasional exception of hearing from a remote blogger). Much of my learning came from struggling with problems and correcting my failures.
My hope is that educators will strive to provide a learning environment where students are challenged to put their book knowledge into practice in practical real life situations. To me knowledge without application equals wasted effort. I hope some of my reflections and thoughts are helpful and give educators some ideas they can apply with their students. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to share some of my ideas with with innovative educators. I am looking forward to new challenges and applications this year!
Interested in Day Finder? Read all about it.
DescriptionEver wished you knew what the day was on a particular date. Doesn't it take forever to calculate that August 6th, 2011 is a Saturday? Ever wanted to know what events happened on a certain date? Well DayFinder is here to help. With DayFinder you can scroll to a date and find out what day it is; you can then optionally go the a website and find historic events and significant birthdays regarding that date. You can also easily find the number of days between two dates or add days to a date. You can even store dates for quick reference. DayFinder is ideal for finding trivia related to a particular date.
- Uses a simple date scroller
- Takes you back to the current date with a simple shake of your iPhone or iPod Touch
- Find out what historic events, birthdays, and significant deaths are on a certain date (requires internet connection)
- Customize the interface