Author: rbaldizon

Work

Amazon Cloud Computing


For years now we have used Amazon Cloud Storage (S3) to store all of our website’s media files in order to lessen the load on the web servers. Though we have a great hosting solution that is not the massive 3,000 websites in one box approach that is used by major hosting companies such as GoDaddy, it is still better to have all media served within the region you’re showing your website the most. In our case our website collocation facility is in the US while our audience is in Europe. So, we rely on our host’s servers for website hosting and serving up the static content while Amazon’s S3 is configured to host all of our media files, be it video or images….mainly images. Video is now served via Vimeo.

Check out our site: http://www.bfischool.org so see what I mean.

Working with Amazon’s services is easy and cheap!

Next up, I’d like to create a script that will host our network share files for each user in our system. Yes, Dropbox is a great alternative, but the problem is that all that knowledge is not under the instituion’s control but rather the control of the owner of the Dropbox account. What happens if one our teachers leave and takes everything with them. Though we are using Rubicon Atlas for documentation of our curriculum, there is still a lot in that person’s work folder which we would no longer be able to access should they decide to leave.

It has happened in the past that someone leaves and we can easily take their left-behind work folders and give access the new teacher coming in to cover that subject. This is the reason a network space is created for teachers. The problem is that the teachers do not have access to their network space whenever they are out of school. By creating a Dropbox-like service linked to Amazon’s S3 service we can easily overcome that. Still much to be worked out, but slowly we are getting there.

Play

Digital Moviemaking Fun!


Digital Moviemaking classes can be a bit unnerving to those teaching it simply because part of it does away with the usual model of having chunks of content ready to dole out during sessions. Though much preparation is required, it is best to let students lead the process while the teacher guides discussion and production of content. It’s tricky, but great fun for kids and there’s lots of learning involved.

What I have been doing lately is interweaving discussion sessions between production periods. We’ll touch on fundamentals in a classroom setting and then begin to work on a group project integrating those discussion points covered earlier.

The approach is different depending on the grade level. Deep creative story writing is not part of the class as it alone could take over the entire year. So parts of it are covered, such as the more technical component of script formatting, the importance of story structure and character archs. I’ve found it useful to introduce the conflict component right away and to have students try to draw a story around that. Having students bring in news/magazine story-clippings is also useful to get those creative juices flowing. It all depends on the group of students in the classroom.

Walking the students through pre-production is key. Most do not like the time spent on planning, and will most often tune you out when spelling out the various components that go into a production even before you leave the planning stage. In all these are the steps we follow to get to a set to start shooting; these must be completed before heading out:

Script
-Chose production crew and assign titles/duties
-Chose cast
-Design the workflow
-Develop a shooting script along with director notes for the production team
-Develop storyboard
-Get photos of possible set locations and annotate key information on them
-Develop shooting script
-Make list of required costumes, props, key pieces of set or settings necessary for certain scenes
-Make equipment list
-Go shoot!

Any of the above can be skipped/morphed/swapped. Nothing is set in stone when working with creative minds. The most important thing is the story, always get the story down first. After story, everything falls in place.

About Life

Philosophy of Life


am human. I savor, I feel, I strive, and am able to time mistakes perfectly such that I learn more and more every time a new one occurs.

I encourage my students and teammates to; be proud of their work, be fearless when trying out new things and to milk every last drop of the knowledge of those around them. To observe. To dig deep and to be honest with themselves.

When dealing with other humans, these traits draw me; positive thinkers, knowledge seekers, interested in learning things which at first may seem out-of-the-norm, energetic, and those able to laugh at themselves.

My specialties: Gate opener – students and teammates find an abundance of opportunities and abilities they never new they had when they are around me. Hiring and putting great teams together. Organizational strategist.

I am always interested in learning something new, something unorthodox…something!

Play, Work

Ideas for keeping teachers longer by offering tech-incentive


One of our major challenges, very similar to so many other international schools, is how to keep teachers for longer than the standard two-year initial contract period. The city of Barcelona, and the quality of life here, helps a great deal. The School also puts in some financial incentives into a three-to-five year commitment on behalf of the faculty. And now I’m trying to get in there by offering all newcomers a laptop that they are free to keep once they complete their third year at the school, free of charge. Additionally I’d like to offer a mobile phone free of charge to all incoming faculty next year.

So, there are two things on my end I’m looking to offer. One is a free laptop that after three years of working here they will call their own. On the fourth year we would actually hand over another new laptop to replace the aging one, which then becomes property of the teacher. If the financials work out, I’m sure we can do this for the incoming teachers for the 12-13 academic year. The laptop we’ll hand out would be a MacBook Air.

As for the phone, there are a couple of things at play here. This year we got into a three-year contract with Vodafone for their mobile office product. In essence all school phones are mobile phones, the type of handset that looks like an office phone but which has a SIM inside it. With this system we no longer have to wire all classrooms for regular phones, and moreover when teachers move to a new classroom, they simply pick up the set and take it with them. I manage the whole thing via a web portal Vodafone has made available. Sometimes we suffer from normal cell interfierence on calls, but overall the system is working out well. We get preferential fees on mobile-to-mobile calls whenever these two mobiles calling each other are School owned lines. This works well for extension calling from one office to another, for instance. Soooo, this is what I am thinking. Either way the school already provides a phone for all classrooms. Why not provide this phone to a teacher instead? The teacher will always be within the School’s reach for any emergency, and the teacher can use the reduced calling fees to make local calls as an added bonus provided by the school.

In all, if these two things move forward for the upcoming school year I think new faculty will be happier for it.