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What would you do with a gift horse? March 29, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in Uncategorized.
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no cold calling

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by markhillary: http://flickr.com/photos/markhillary/964441032/

If you work in an IT Support Office, you’ll probably get about half a dozen calls each day which start “Hello, is that Ian? How are you today?” That’s enough to know it’s going to be a sales pitch from a cold caller. How things go from there would be a whole new post, but that’s not what this one’s about.

A few weeks ago I got a call from someone who was very much more to the point than normal, less polished, clearly not working from a script and offering us something for free. No, not the normal ‘free,’ free free. He asked if he could drop by and show me the online, web design package he was developing and the trials of which seemed to be going well in a local school. Perhaps we’d also be interested in giving it a try? Now like everyone else, my time’s precious and when cold-callers phone and start with “Our representative will be in your area next Tuesday and was wondering what time it would be convenient to call to show …” they … well, let’s just say Mr Happy is not at home to cold calls. But this one was different, from a student currently studying at a local Uni. and it definitely piqued my interest.

The following day, Steven came along and demonstrated his application. Before things got going I was sceptical, (those who know me well would say that’s default!) but prepared to give it a chance. Though the delivery lacked polish, I have to say I was more than impressed with what he had achieved: an easy too use, slick, sharp, well-featured online web-design package, suitable for students from KS3 onwards (or earlier?). There are several aspects Steven is well aware need further development, but what I saw, first and foremost, it worked and worked well! Here I’ll attempt to provide a quick intro within the five minute limit in Jing:

screencast

Introductory video

[Darn it if I can’t get a Jing swf video uploaded to Screencast to embed. Tch!]

How would I see this being used in school? Well at it’s current state of development, I’d be happy to use it with any class as an introduction to web design – it’s already a useful application in its own right, but also could be used as one element of a comparative study. Finding different examples of web design tools for students to consider can sometimes be problematic – here then is a possible solution. It might be that our IT department isn’t in a position to take this forward in the short term, so I thought I’d pitch it more widely.

Couple of things to bear in mind: the option to ‘publish’ the site and extract one’s content is awaiting implementation and whilst Steven continues to develop his project, we can’t get at the accounts our students might create. Just things to think about and as Steven is only too keen to explain, this is definitely a work in progress, but I’m happy to assist in whatever way we can to help him move his project forward. In fact how powerful might it be for a group of students to provide him with sufficiently robust feedback that might help steer further developments? Working with a designer on a particular product? Not the kind of opportunity that arises too often?

If you’d like to be put in touch with Steven or want to know more, DM me your details (@IaninSheffield) or drop a comment below.

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