Our 360iDev Pals – Ray & Vicki Wenderlich and Brandon Trebitowski
On Sepetember 8th, the Campfire Apps team jumped on a plane and headed to Denver! We were there from the 8th through the 13th for the 360iDev conference. This conference is a place where iOS developers from all over the United States (& World) can come together for one week to learn new things, meet new people, and have a great time. We did a lot throughout the week, we even took a trip to the top of the mountain, Pikes Peak, which is over 14,000 feet high.
Steph, Shawn, & Courtney – The Campfire Apps Team – at the top of Pike’s Peak
On Tuesday night, we participated in the 360iDev Game Jam. This was an awesome event hosted by some of the attendees of the conference. During the day on Tuesday we received a theme for the Game Jam – “Growth” – and after dinner settled in for an evening of programming, design, and all around fun. The Game Jam started around 7:00 pm and participants had until 9:00 am Wednesday to create at least a prototype of a game to share with the group Wednesday afternoon.
Our Game Jam table: Brandon, Shawn, & Courtney
Our game was (tentatively) called “Present Drop” and the goal of the game is to ‘grow’ a tower of gifts as tall as possible without knocking it over or losing too many gifts along the way. As you might have guessed, our game is also holiday-themed, which was a lot of fun. Here is a peek at what the title screen looks like for our game:
This was our first time participating in the Game Jam, and we will definitely be participating again next year! We had so much fun working quickly to get our game ready. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in such a short period of time when you just sit down and focus on it.
360iDev is an awesome opportunity for iOS developers to get together, talk shop and experience this amazing community. We have really been impressed the last two years that we have attended and have made a lot of new friends through this conference. We left the conference with so much inspiration, and so many new ideas! The Campfire Apps team has been brainstorming, so be on the look out for new goodies soon!
The Campfire Apps team has been working diligently for the past 5 hours on an app for the Game Jam at the 360iDev conference in Denver. Our game for the game jam is “Present Drop” and it’s Christmas themed! Shawn has been working on the coding, while Stephanie has been designing the artwork for the game. Our goal is to finish the game tonight; or at least get it to be functional. Keep an eye out for more updates about the game, because it’s one that we hope to be releasing this winter.
This past Saturday Shawn, Stephanie, and I attended the “Insquared: Inclusive Innovation Unconference” at MICA in Baltimore. It was the first “unconference” that any of us had ever attended, and we had a great time! Each of us took away so much from the conference, and we’ve all been talking about it since we left!
We had the opportunity to listen and discuss multiple topics, including youth entrepreneurship and technology in the Baltimore area school systems. Shawn and Stephanie also presented their own session, “An Introduction to Mobile App Development.” They both did a great job presenting, and there were many people interested in the topic.
One of the best parts of the day was hearing from two great keynote speakers. In the morning we heard a talk from Tara Hunt about her own life experiences and how she has never given up to make it to where she is today. In the afternoon we heard from New York Times Bestseller, Baratunde Thurston, about his bestselling book, “How To Be Black“, and a general overview of his life and accomplishments. Both speakers were phenomenal and totally inspiring!
Overall, we were all able to learn a lot from this conference and we can’t wait to experience other conferences like this one!
ETA (from Stephanie): Shawn and I were very honored to be asked to present at this conference. It was an awesome event put on by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council (gbtc) and MICA. Perhaps the most rewarding element was seeing how many students attended the event. We had students from KIPP, Digital Harbor High, and our own Courtney and all of them were well-spoken, involved in the conversations, and inspiring. I know that it would have been difficult for me as a high school student to attend an event such as this and participate in the ways that the students did this past weekend.
We very much look forward to similar events in the future, as Courtney said, we had a great time and took away so many nuggets on knowledge, thought, and inspiration.
For anyone who is interested, Shawn posted the slides from our talk “An Intro to Mobile App Development” on his website, ShawnsBits.com. Please check them out, there are a TON of links to good resources and information contained in the presentation.
From time to time I would like to share with you all things that are inspiring us here at Campfire Apps. I can’t promise how regularly you will see posts like this, but I definitely want to take time to share what motivates and inspires us every once in a while.
This week I have been flooded with information about work environments. Actually, I guess it started a few weeks ago when we attended the 360iDev Conference in Denver. One of the morning general sessions was a talk given by David Whatley entitled “Can You Really Make an iPhone Game When No One Has to Show Up to Work?” This whole talk was aimed at shedding light on the workplace management system that David had recently began using with his employees. This system is called ROWE, or, Results Only Work Environment. The type of work environment is based on the fact that employees are evaluated on “performance, not presence” (directly from the ROWE website). Whatley shared interviews with his employees on the value of their ROWE environment and the responses were incredible! Everyone was so happy and content, and actually, they were more productive than before.
So the take-away from that session really stuck with me. Being a former teacher, even though this sounds pretty close to what we should want from students (great results) it’s very far from any environment I have ever worked in. It just seemed so simple, but sort of profound.
This weekend, in doing some blog reading and catching up, I came across this article called “What Schools Can Learn from Google, IDEO, and Pixar“. The article looks at the work environments of these big name companies and proposes ways that schools can use the same approaches when creating environments for students.
Pixar's open, spacious, work environment
This article was so inspiring and eye-opening. It left me with lots of “What if…” types of thoughts and “Isn’t that the way it should be?” types of feelings. The article focuses on play and creativity as driving forces behind innovation and the ways that these three companies have kept that in mind and designed work environments to foster those attributes. Their workspaces have been inspired by lessons from childhood. The article states, “In many ways, what makes the Googles of the world exceptional begins in the childhood classroom — an embrace of creativity, play, and collaboration.” So why, then, do you find less and less opportunities for creativity, playing, and collaborating in our schools?
Pixar’s building layout was designed to create “forced collisions of people” according to Steve Jobs, because “the best meetings were meetings that happened spontaneously in the hallway.” Here in these spaces you can have people from all different areas of expertise meeting to collaborate on something potentially amazing. An environment like this offers opportunities for photographers, designers, developers, writers, and many others to see one another and meet one another and have conversations about the projects where they may be able to offer something. What if schools were designed this way, classwork that overlapped so that students were able to work together on projects across the disciplines? What if schools created a culture focused on design thinking and interdisciplinary projects instead of individual independently addressed subjects?
I have read this article over and over this week. I can’t get enough of it, actually. It just makes so much sense. There’s not a lot from the article that I can apply to my real-life situation as it is right now, it’s just my husband and I on a daily basis, but this has given me lots to think about regardless. The last thing I want to share from this article is a video about a school, High Tech High. This school focuses its curriculum on interdisciplinary project based learning, and the resulting environment seems pretty amazing. I can only dream that I went to a school like this. Again, this was completely inspiring to me.
To quote the authors of the article, “It is time to re-imagine and invest in schools and spaces ripe for creativity and cross-pollination.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself. What about you all, have you encountered any inspiring work environments? School environments?
Imagine if every day there was a parent / teacher conference. Would you tell the parent how their child really liked the science lesson you gave today? Would you tell them how their child needs some extra help learning fractions and here are some tools to help them? Would you remind them about the upcoming field trip that you need volunteers and signed permission slips for? What if you could communicate all of this to your entire class and it was no harder than taking attendance?
It’s time that we stopped meeting once a quarter (or less) to discuss childrens’ progress when progress is moving at a much faster pace. We need to stop sending home papers that are getting misplaced or lost in the bottomless pit known as the backpack. Teachers want parents that are more involved and parents are sometimes unsure how to help or communicate effectively with their children to find out what they do each day at school. How many times have you heard a parent say, “This is beyond what we did when I went to school”? We need to utilize the speed of communication that modern technology offers us and employ it in our learning efforts.
Our goal is to build applications that enable transparent communications between Teacher/Educator, Parent, and Student. We want to provide ways for teachers to send information to parents and families in a quick and timely manner so that they can be more involved in their child’s education and daily activities at school. We wish to do this in a way that makes life a little easier for teachers and educators. As teachers, we know what precious little time you have, we hope to make apps that give you more time to teach and spend time with your students while still tending to all the tasks you have to accomplish in a given day.
Ultimately, we want to empower families, help teachers communicate, and have children enjoy learning.
You can help us with building our apps by becoming a tester for Campfire Apps, you can let us know you are interested right here.