Ivy Education



[nb. While ivy was used daily both by myself and other teachers, I should stress that, in terms of the general public, ivy is Beta software. It was developed using Agile methodologies.]

Personal Background

From about 2003 until 2008, I was a music teacher. I also happened to be a software developer so when I got frustrated with the problems of Blackboard & Firstclass (the educational software our school used) I simply wrote my own software. First in PHP and then in Rails. I'm not really sure why I switched from PHP to Rails.. probably because I like learning new things.

Overview


Originally I wrote ivy to help with the logistics of teaching. It helped with attendance and note-taking. Then I added the ability to plan and schedule and incorporated the concept of 'activities'. This subtle change actually turned ivy into a curriculum development tool. I could scan backwards in time within a specific class as well as through the years, to help figure out what might work best for my current group of students.

At this point, activities are represented simply as names although adding further descriptions and material requirements would be quite simple.

The basic idea is to log which activity or activities were used during class and to also take notes on the success of each class/activity. Of course, this should be done as soon as possible so you don't forget - if possible, I'd do it during class, otherwise, I'd do it between classes.

Installation

So, development stopped a while ago. That being the case, you need to revert to older versions of things to get everything working. While the newest version of, say, mysql, might work, I'd suggest first getting everything running and then, once you're all cooking, upgrade. Here is what I had to setup to get things working:

Without typing out a lesson on how to use Rails, basically, you get mysql setup and running. Then you edit the config/database.yml file in the ivy distribution to match your usernames & passwords. Then you run "rake db:migrate" within the top directory of the distribution. When that all works, you can run script/server and go to http://0.0.0.0:3000. That the gist. There's a README in the distribution which will help. Also, feel free to contact me.

Educational Note

One of the benefits with activity-based education is that you're putting what works before what you think the students need. You cannot, of course, teach someone something that they do not care to learn about. Not easily, at least. Those activities that are more successful will be selected for, those less gradually eliminated or changed. Kind of evolutionarily.

Design Note

Just in case some of y'all are wondering, I thought I'd mention a thing about my design philosophy, specifically the UI. Basically this is how I look at things: the smaller and simpler the better. I'm talking from an energy standpoint. If the user has to upload all sorts of cute little gifs and other graphics and whatnot, it simply takes more energy. Sure, it might not be a lot, per person. But it adds up. And why use more energy if it's not really necessary? Soooo, all things & functionalities being equal, I'm actually trying to reduce the amounts of bytes sent across the internet.