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Who’s up for a Chat?

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Hopefully you’ve heard, but we forgive you if you haven’t, Answerables has moved into Open Beta! Close to 2 years in the making; we’re putting it out there for you to try out for free, and feedback to us on how to make it even better. So, if you missed the memo, head over to the Aswerables dashboard, sign up and download it,  and see what all the fuss is about! You can even do it right now if you like…this blog’s not going anywhere ;).

But if you ARE still reading, we’re going to be highlighting some of the awesomeness that’s been integrated into Answerables for your user experience pleasure in the next few blogs.

Today we’d like to introduce you to our voice and video chat, courtesy of a couple of cutting edge technologies: WebRTC by Google and OpenTok by TokBox.

WebRTC was developed by the good folks at Google, who then put it out ‘open source’ (which means free to use, which is always good). The RTC stands for ‘real time communication’. Basically, it enables web browsers to allow for real time communication between users.

We then took something called OpenTok by TokBox , mixed and stirred, and the next thing you know…after a few weeks of fancy footwork by our resident geniuses…voila! Voice and video chat that’s really been turning some heads with our first sets of users; it seems they haven’t seen anything quite like it. Perfect :)

Picture this. Your avatar wanders over to a set of backpacks on the floor (we call them Compacks). You click on one and it appears on your back. Click on the video chat button on the compack and you appear on a small screen- above your head to others, but on the compack as well so you can make sure your hair looks good ;). Click on the microphone button and you have voice. Cooking with gas!!

For educators this has got to get those cylinders firing: online face to face tutoring; after school ‘office hours’ from home; running a ‘live’ classroom portal; meetings with colleagues for PD sessions.

And for students…well, we know of at least ONE who wants to show Vince Carter’s Top 10 dunk videos to his friends, and provide live commentary to them as he does it!

Hey, sign up…maybe you’ll get an invite!

On the Road

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You’ve heard of dinner and a movie? How about dinner and a beta? The Nexed Team and Answerables landed with a badda-boom badda bing at East Side Mario’s  in the first of what we’re calling our ‘flash demo’ series.

After a little bit of fancy footwork getting ourselves online and plugged in, we rolled up our banners and got down to it! This first one was really meant to test out our ‘roadworthiness’, and a couple of bumps (they’re always in the road) aside, Answerables seems to be purring along nicely.

Even without any prior media shout outs, we had some folks drop by. Kiddos mostly, in search of something to do while their parents finished off their desserts. And as you all know, kiddos are our speciality! There were oohs and ahhs, especially with Answerable up on the big screen; the kids got a glimpse of our newly re-designed POD, and a chance to sit down behind our macs and take a test drive.

But if YOU want to have a peak, you’re going to have to wait till our next flash demo…won’t be long. And this time we’ll keep you all in the loop. Thinking somewhere caffeinated maybe…?

And of course, in case you hadn’t heard, this is all in full prep mode for Web Summit 2013  in Dublin’s fair city. We applied and were accepted into the Alpha programme, which helps startups get a booth without having to re-mortgage the house. So when it all goes down in Dublin in late October, Nexed and Answerables will be in there with the best of them! And not to toot our own horn, but we think they’re pretty lucky to have us;).

FYI, we’ll be seeking out some brave Ansibles and Pedagogs on THIS side of the Atlantic to help us out ‘live’ on the day we show our stuff. If you think you’re up to the challenge, drop us a line.

 Wonder if there’ll be pasta?

web summit

 

 

 

 

 

A spotlight on 2 Bright Grade 8 Oakville Entrepreneurs

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Came home the other day to find a flyer taped to my front door. After checking to make sure I hadn’t time- travelled back to 1983 before such old school marketing was trumped by SEO-ing and email blasting, I gently peeled, had a quick read—then bought in BIG TIME!

It was from 2 grade 8 students at our local public school. For privacy’s sake let’s call them AA (like the battery;). In their ‘Economy’ unit in Geography class, they had been given the task of stepping into the shoes of an entrepreneur and coming up with a business proposal for a product they might want to create. The project would cumulate with at ‘Dragon’s Den’ type presentation by the students to a panel of guest judges.

So, already a pretty cool assignment—but AA wanted to step it up a notch. They decided to create a REAL product, and put it out to market through the Google Play Store. So, while one of the A’s furiously coded (Grade 8’s with furious coding abilities—hello? Guess it really is 2013!) the other dove head first into developing a company name and logo. When it was all said and done, they both put together the description for their product, and, like the old nursery rhyme says—this little app-ie went to market!!

So far, the ‘Flashlight Infinity’ app has over a dozen downloads. Meaning that ‘Infinity Apps’ has done in a few short weeks what it takes some start-ups YEARS to do— bring in revenue — But more importantly, they took complete and total OWNership of that assignment. What could have been seen as mundane they chose to make exciting; what could have been seen as a chore, they chose to make a labour of love; what could have been seen as just another mark to go into their teacher’s spreadsheet, they chose to bring out of the world of the academic, and make it REAL.

And for that, ‘Infinity Apps’, ‘Flashlight Infinity’ and, of course AA, get the Nexed seal of approval, and a big ol’ fist bump for a job well done, and for reminding us who really is leading the charge into those outlying territories we keep mentioning!

And hey, if you have a buck, could use a flashlight, and want to support a coupla digital citizens peddling their wares in a 21st Century marketplace—click here to check out the app.

Inspiration for the Bullied

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Can’t believe we missed this one when it made its viral rounds in March. And thanks to a neighbour and fellow parent who shared it with me through Facebook. Hey—look at that, score another point for social media being used to elevate rather than deflate us.

It’s a spoken word poem titled ‘To This Day’, written by a man named Shane Koyczan. It is about bullying and if you are in any way involved with children, as a parent or educator, and you have not yet seen it, you really should. And you really should share it. REALLY.

We’re passing along two ‘versions’ to you here. One is the performance he gave at a TED talk, which is incredibly moving—but with a little spicy language, just so you know. And the other is a spice-free, animated version that would be AWESOME to view at home with the kids, or in your classroom- I’d say from Grade 6 and up.

It’s a little lengthy, but if we can spare 10 minutes to watch screaming goats and grumpy cats—we can spare 10 minutes to give ourselves a strong reminder of what far too many of the students in our classes and the children that we are raising, are facing every day.

TED talk “To This Day”

Animated version “To this Day”

 

 

Finally, an encouraging story about kids and social media

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I heard a story today, at a time when stories get told. I have to call it a story because although it came from someone who I trust always to tell me the truth, I was a vice principal long enough to know that there are many versions of stories.

The story was about a middle school student who saw something on Instagram. Not something from a close friend, but a classmate who he ‘followed’.  He saw something that made him think this classmate was not ok. That they were talking about things and considering doing things that concerned and frightened him. The next thing he did was talk to his Mom; and show her what he had seen. The next day (today) that Mom talked to the child’s teacher, who talked to her principal, who talked to that child’s Mom. That child went home early from class today—to have ‘hot tea’.

And the p.s. to the story, again told at a(nother) time when they’re told—an iMessage group was in the process of being formed. And it was going to be a special group that made sure to include a certain someone—who looked like they could use a little chat time with friends.

We hear a LOT about the awfulness that can be kids and social media. And there’s no denying any of it. We need to be watchful and aware of how they’re using it; like we are watchful and aware of every part of their lives. But I betcha dollars to donuts that they’re using it for the better FAR more than they are for the worse.

So, while the vp in me reminds me that stories are just that—I kinda hope this one’s true.

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