Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Learning and Teaching Firefox OS

With only about five weeks left in the school year, and with my Spring semester grad school class completed, I'll now shift focus to three things which are all part of student projects this year, Summer internships, and technologies I hope to integrate into the IT program of Arlington Tech next year:
  1. Firefox OS app development
  2. Mapping LIDAR data with Python
  3. Robotics with MicroPython and the pyboard
I will document each of these efforts in separate blog posts.

First on the list is Firefox OS app development.  I've written about my early enthusiasm for FXOS in a previous post.  The challenge now will be to gather and organize a collection of accessible and high quality resources to support incorporation of FXOS into a high school / community college curriculum.

The principal obstacle in meeting this challenge is that Firefox OS is a rapidly developing technology, so in attempting to write educational materials for it you are aiming at a moving target.  I've already found this to be a problem with existing materials.  One of the best written tutorials I've found thus far for FXOS is on the blog iRomin.  Written as a series of 10 episodes, Episode 1 : Setting up your Development Environment, is already woefully out of date.  It describes setup procedures that have already been replaced by better and easier to use technologies.

It seems important to me to get folks who want to help nurture the fledgling OS to release their books, blogs, and tutorials as open educational resources. I certainly will, but my life as a free software activist would be made so much easier if I could build on the work of others as I set about creating a curriculum for FXOS.  I'll be contacting the authors of the usable materials I find and asking them if I can update and adapt their work.

Here is a list of resources I plan to start with:
One of the first things I want to do is create a Firefox OS app "zoo", along the lines of the jQuery Zoo. The idea is to populate the site (and accompanying github repo) with a collection of small, easy to understand apps that are designed primarily to meet pedagogical goals.  I should start with a "hello world" app and build from there.

I've got a student coming in tomorrow morning for help getting started with FXO, so I best get working on the app zoo now...

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