Smart Cities Challenge Final Proposal

Chapter 4 – Technology

March 5, 2019

 

Chapter 4 – Technology
 
Winners will likely have many projects with a technology component, as the use of connected technology is a core element of a smart cities approach. This chapter outlines the details needed to ensure the alignment of the approach to the achievement of outcomes, feasibility, interoperability, replicability, and scalability of these types of projects. On a related note, while undertaking projects that employ open technology solutions (i.e. non-proprietary, multi-vendor, open architecture) is advisable in order to facilitate replicability, there may be cases where they generate intellectual property. This chapter should demonstrate your commitment to pursuing options that allow you and other communities across Canada to benefit from your smart cities approach to the greatest extent possible.
 

Provide a technology plan for the implementation phase, including:

  • Details about the technologies, including relevant applications elsewhere and results of testing and/or piloting in finalist phase
  • Approach to future-proofing the technologies (i.e. safeguards against vendor-generated proprietary constraints and obsolescence, workforce that is able to implement and operate the technologies and systems going forward)
  • How the technologies comply with relevant legislative and regulatory requirements
  • Adoption or development of standards, architectures, certifications, initiatives, and guidelines, including how these will enable:
    • interoperability between the technologies, other technologies, existing community systems and services, and infrastructure
    • replicability and scalability
  • Roles and responsibilities of technology partners
  • Accessibility and usability of the technologies to diverse users, residents, and other stakeholders that support their uptake and acceptance
  • Identification of risks (e.g. privacy issues, cybersecurity breaches) and development of appropriate mitigation strategies
  • Other details, as required

 

Evaluation criteria

  • Plan is detailed, complete, feasible, and well-suited to achievement of outcomes
  • Plan supports the implementation of projects
  • Risk strategy is thorough and adequately addresses key risks

 

Chapter 4 – Technology

 

Introduction

Technology in Biigtigong’s on-reserve elementary school and on-reserve high school will help revitalize language and culture, will enhance student learning, will provide students with modern bilingual STEM education, will strengthen students’ real-world connections to our Biigtigong territory and to other community members, will improve the efficiency and productivity of teaching staff, and will facilitate communication among students, teaching staff, parents, and elders.
 

The Vision for Technology

Technology is being utilized firstly as a foundation of our entire proposal – the delivery of the Learning Management System – namely Open edX. Open edX, in turn, then serves as the platform atop which our K-8 students will be acquiring their Nishnaabe language – via 2,000 of immersion video instruction, the content of which is our aadsookaanan (our sacred stories, our philosophical foundations, the basic building blocks of our Nishnaabe worldview). Our aadsookaanan will be reconstructed and written, over the five-year period of this proposal – the aadsookaanan reconstruction process assisted, as well, by technology. Additionally, our students in both elementary school and high school will also have STEM education delivered to them on the Open edX platform in a blended-learning environment (i.e., brick-and-mortar instruction augmented with an online component), by augmenting our current K-12 curriculum with the following:
 

  • For our grades K-5 students, the Computer Science Fundamentals curriculum of Code.org.
  • For our grade 6 students, a coding course using the Python programming language.
  • For our grades 7 and 8 students, two courses in LEGO Robotics utilizing an expanded, projects-based version of the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Curriculum.
  • And, for our high school students, the full curriculum of the CompTIA A+ information technology exam preparation.

 
Additionally, for our high school students, they will receive, through the medium of our Nishnaabe language, STEM course instruction via 1,000 hours of STEM course videos (available in both the Nishnaabe-language and the English-language.) Professional development will be provided throughout the five-year period for all staff to ensure that culture-based technology is used to transform learning and language acquisition opportunities for all students.
 

Community informationals will be delivered throughout the five-year period for all community members – especially parents of students – to maintain their informed technology-related decision making.
 

Plan Duration

The duration of the Plan will be five years (September 2019 through August 2024). The Plan will be reviewed and updated bi-annually. The focus of this technology plan is the curriculum augmentations, community informational, and professional development components.
 

Stakeholders

The stakeholders to this technology plan include the whole community – including students, teachers, administrators, parents, information technology staff, and elected leaders.
 

K-12 Curriculum Augmentation

We are building a modern bilingual K-12 STEM curriculum by augmenting our current K-12 curriculum. This chapter will focus on those planned-for K-12 curriculum augmentations.
 

Technology Plan Vision and K-12 Curriculum Augmentation Rollout by Year

 

Vision for Technology and K-12 Augmentation

Our vision for technology is the curriculum represented graphically in Chapter 1’s Figure 1-1, delivered via the Open edX platform.
 

Rollout by Year

The yearly rollouts below support the Vision for Technology and K-12 Augmentation. These rollouts begin with an exit goal that states what we expect twelfth grade students graduating from our school to know and be able to do and is followed by yearly rollouts of technology Types 1 and 2 for students and staff who will support learning in our classes and our overall instructional program. These rollouts are intended to guide the implementation of technology across our K-12 curriculum, professional development of teaching staff, educate the community on the relevant technologies, deliver bilingual K-12 STEM knowledge, and support the reconstruction and revitalization of our Nishnaabe language and aadsookaanan (sacred stories).
 

Exit Goal: Students graduating from Biigtigong’s high school (whom have also graduated from Biigtigong’s elementary school) will be able to code in an introductory text-based programming language (Python), will be able to assemble and control robots using a text-based programming language (ROBOTC, a language similar in structure to the C programming language), will have successfully completed the exam preparation curriculum for both parts of the CompTIA A+ exam (exam #220-1001, and exam #220-1002), will be able to nearly-completely understand their Nishnaabe language, and will know all of their core aadsookaanan.
 

Yearly Rollouts of Type 1 Technology:

Year 1 (Sep. 2019 – Aug. 2020)

  • We begin using Appsembler, our chosen SaaS-provider of the Open edX platform, to deliver our augmented K-12 curriculum.

 
Years 2 through 5 (Sep. 2020 – Aug. 2024)

  • We continue using Appsembler, our chosen SaaS-provider of the Open edX platform, to deliver our augmented K-12 curriculum.

 

Yearly Rollouts of Type 2 Technologies:

Type 2: Technologies utilized in our K-12 curriculum
For the rollout schedules of the technologies utilized in our K-12 curriculum, please see Appendix B and Appendix C for each of the five years of this proposal.
 

Detailed curriculum documents can be found here:

  • Code.org – Computer Science Fundamentals curriculum:
  • https://code.org/curriculum/docs/csf/CSF_Curriculum_Guide_2018_smaller.pdf

  • Python 1 – Tynker.com’s ‘Python 101’ course curriculum:
  • https://www.tynker.com/school/coding-curriculum/scope-sequence

  • Robotics 1 and 2 curriculum – LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 curriculum:
  • https://education.lego.com/en-us/downloads/mindstorms-ev3/curriculum

  • CompTIA A+ exam preparation curriculum:
    • Exam #220-1001: https://www.certblaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/A-plus-
      220-1001-pdf-Exam-Objectives.pdf
    • Exam #220-1002: https://www.certblaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/A-plus-
      220-1002-pdf-Exam-Objectives-1.pdf

 
Type 2: Technologies utilized in the reconstruction and writing of our core aadsookaanan
In the interest of effective use of space here in this proposal, these technologies will be utilized on an as-needed basis to write our aadsookaanan. These technologies will be utilized throughout all five years of the five-year period.
 
Type 2: Technologies utilized in the production and provision of our three types of video
In the interest of effective use of space here in this proposal, these technologies will be utilized on an as-needed basis to record, overdub, animate, and edit our video. These technologies will be utilized throughout all five years of the the five-year period.
 

Yearly Rollouts of Professional Development and Community Education:

Year 1 (Sep. 2019 – Aug. 2020)

  • We begin delivering technology-related professional development to K-12 staff.
  • We begin delivering technology-related informationals to community members – especially to parents of students.

 
Years 2 through 5 (Sep. 2020 – Aug. 2024)

  • We continue delivering technology-related professional development to K-12 staff.
  • We begin delivering technology-related informationals to community members – especially to parents of students.

 

Details about the Technologies

In addition to our existing technology, there are two main types of technology needed to implement our proposal. The first type comprises the constituent technologies of our Learning Management System (LMS), Open edX. Broadly speaking, Open edX is the technology which houses the entire blended-learning experience which we’re planning to deliver with our proposal. The second category comprises all other technologies which enable that experience to occur. This second category includes the technologies utilized in our augmented K-12 curriculum; the technologies used in the reconstruction and the writing of our core aadsookaanan; and the technologies employed in the production and provision of our three types of video: Waawaa immersion video, Nishnaabe-language immersion video, and bilingual (Nishnaabe-language and English-language) STEM video.
 

Current Technologies

Current Hardware

  • Apple iPads (Student Usage): 60
  • Apple iPads (Teacher Usage): 5
  • Apple MacBook Pro laptops (Student Usage): 34
  • Apple MacBook Pro laptops (Teacher Usage): 10
  • Windows desktop PCs (Student Usage): 22
  • Windows desktop PCs (Teacher Usage): 4
  • Apple iMac desktop computers (Teacher Usage): 1
  • Promethean ActivBoard Touches: 6
  • Digital SLR Cameras: 2
  • Digital Cameras/Recording Devices: 2

 

Current Software

  • Video Editing: Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Photo Editing: Adobe Photoshop
  • Office Productivity
    • For Windows: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook
    • For macOS: Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Notes

 

Type 1 Required Technologies

Technologies utilized to deliver our Learning Management System (LMS)

  • Open edX platform (open source – GNU Affero General Public License)
    • Open edX iOS mobile app (open source – Apache License)
    • Open edX Android mobile app (open source – Apache License)
    • Written in Python (open source – Python Software Foundation License (PSFL) [a BSD-style, permissive free software license which is compatible with the GNU General Public License (GPL)].)
    • Built on Django (open source – Django’s BSD license)
    • Utilizes PostgreSQL relational database (open source – PostgreSQL License [a liberal Open Source license, similar to the BSD or MIT licenses])
  • Khan Academy API (free proprietary)
  • Appsembler (proprietary SaaS-provider of Open edX)
  • Customizations by Biigtigong Nishnaabeg to Open edX platform (open source – GNU Affero General Public License)

 

Type 2 Required Technologies

Technologies utilized in our K-12 curriculum

  • Code.org (open source – Apache License)
  • Khan Academy (free proprietary)
  • Python (open source – Python Software Foundation License (PSFL) [a BSD-style, permissive free software license which is compatible with the GNU General Public License (GPL)])
  • LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Software (free proprietary)
  • LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robot Kit (proprietary)

 

Technologies utilized in the reconstruction and writing of our core aadsookaanan

  • LibreOffice desktop office productivity software (open source – Mozilla Public License Version 2.0)
  • ONLYOFFICE desktop office productivity software (open source – AGPLv3)
  • MariaDB relational database (open source – GNU GPL v2.0)
  • HeidiSQL free and open source administration tool for the MariaDB relational database (open source – GNU GPL v2.0)

 

Technologies utilized in the production and provision of our three types of video

  • Storywriting and screenwriting software (Mariner Persona, Write Brothers Dramatica Pro, Movie Magic Screenwriter)
  • Storyboard software (Moviestorm Filmmaker, Power Production’s Storyboard Artist Studio, Storymind StoryWeaver)
  • Office productivity software (LibreOffice, ONLY OFFICE)
  • Digital Pen (Epic Pen)
  • Drawing Tablet (Wacom drawing tablet)
  • Mocap-capable 2D animation software (Adobe Creative Cloud – Character Animator)
  • Webcam (to interface with mocap-enabled 2D-animation software)
  • Microphone and accessories (for recording audio with which to overdub the video)
  • Riggable 2D-character creation (Adobe Creative Cloud – Illustrator, and Photoshop)
  • 3D modelling software (for the creation of assets for the animatics in the 2D-space ‘digital flip chart’ immersion instruction by the 2D-animated character) (Sketchup Pro)
  • Screen recording software (TechSmith Camtasia)
  • Video-editing software (Adobe Creative Cloud – Premiere Pro)
  • Audio-editing software (Adobe Creative Cloud – Audition)
  • SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) client (WinSCP)
  • SSH (Secure Shell) and Telnet client (PuTTY)
  • Video player software (VLC Player)

 

Relevant Applications Elsewhere

These technologies are applicable and useful in governance (especially for effectively engaging community member in all facets of community life), new council member initiation, training of new staff, ongoing professional development of current staff, general community informationals, and bringing the entire organization online.
 

Results of Testing and/or Piloting in the Finalist Phase

We achieved fun and excellent results throughout the finalist phase in all of our pilot projects. Our biggest challenge, as we mentioned in Toronto at our November Jury Check-In, was easing the fears of the teachers and inspiring them with hope for new possibilities concerning their lack of technical expertise in the areas of Technology and Engineering. Coding, in particular, seems to have unnerved the staff of our elementary school the most. Our Elementary School’s professional development sessions with the teaching staff, their testing and piloting of the technologies in the classroom and the community, including actual blended-learning classroom sessions using Khan Academy and Code.org, building and controlling Lego robots, and employing block-based programming to control circuit boards using Scratch and Makey Makey, transformed these moments of doubt into empowering moments of possibilities (in our teaching staff’s own words!).
 

Approach to Future-Proofing the Technologies

Firstly, most all of our software applications which are not open source have ‘safety-net’ open source equivalents. This is how we’re safeguarding against vendor-generated proprietary constraints and obsolescence while simultaneously enabling transferability and scalability. Our few proprietary choices here allow us to go faster and thus be more efficient and effective with our time due to the fact that we have personnel with considerable experience in the proprietary versions of these software applications. Should, however, any of the vendors of these proprietary software applications which we’re using do something which disallows us to continue effectively using their software, we can quickly and near-frictionlessly switch over to the respective open source equivalent software application with little to no interruption in our workflow.
 

Secondly, while we are certainly onboarding youth into the smart cities future, we’re also onboarding K-12 teachers and staff, as well as community members in general. The continuing professional development of teaching staff, and the ongoing informing of the community will produce for us a workforce that is able to implement and operate the technologies and systems going forward into the smart future.
 

Adoption of Architectures, Guidelines, and Initiatives

Had we chosen to install Open edX’s software on servers other than Appsembler’s, we would have indeed had an an architecture adoption challenge to contend with. Because we are attempting to make this proposal’s approach to moving into the smart future as newbie-friendly as possible, we have chosen to simply use Appsembler as our SaaS (Software as a Service) provider of the Open edX platform. The architecture issue thus goes away as we have only a web-based interface to Appsembler to contend with. A very newbie-friendly approach, indeed.
 

The guidelines that concern us here are the blended-learning guidelines. We are not advocating for an ‘online’ school. What we are advocating is enhancing brick-and-mortar curriculum delivery with some online options. The guidelines for attaining this hybrid approach is what we are referring to when we use the term ‘blended-learning.’
 

Similarly, the initiative which concerns us here is the Growth Mindset as implemented by Khan Academy. The Growth Mindset can be many things to people. For us, we, once again, take a newbie-friendly approach. The Growth Mindset in its minimalist form is not allowing students to progress in their curriculum studies without first mastering the content in their current stage of learning. For example, a student receiving an 85% in a math quiz, for example, is made to redo the quiz until that student receives a perfect score. This is a fundamental approach of Khan Academy, and one which we wish to emulate on our online quizzes using randomized tests with a large database of possible questions for our students. These randomized tests are what we are referring to in our Type 1 Required Technologies section by Customizations by Biigtigong Nishnaabeg to Open edX platform. These are simple JavaScript scripts placed on the front-end webpages of our students’ quiz pages on Open edX that create a Khan Academy-like testing experience, rendering it what we are referring to as a Growth Mindset Approach to learning.
 

Interoperability

  • Open edX with Appsembler’s API (Application Programming Interface) make the platform interoperable with any other technology one could reasonably choose to interface with.
  • Using Khan Academy’s API (Application Programming Interface) for Khan Academy courses which we’ll be offering inside of Open edX makes this customized aspect of Open edX interoperable with nearly any other technology.
  • Existing community systems and services are currently not networked. Open edX will be the platform with which Biigtigong Nishnaabeg begins to connect these community systems and services.

 

Replicability and Scalability

Because we have chosen a foundational platform which is fully open source (Open edX), which we’re augmenting with curriculum components (e.g., code.org) and learning-facilitation aids (e.g., Khan Academy) which, too, are nearly all open source and free of charge, our proposal – nearly in its entirety – is replicable in any community one might wish to bring it to.
 

As we’ve stated earlier, in the cases where we have chosen to use a proprietary technology – for example, LEGO, which does not operate in the open source ecosystem – we have been careful to make sure that there are near-equivalent open source options – in this case, Raspberry Pi, which does operate in the open source ecosystem – for that technology.
 

Additionally, as we state several times throughout our proposal, we are offering an onboarding approach to communities that may not have access to bleeding-edge technology, nor perhaps to bleeding-edge technology’s administering engineers, programmers, or operators. It is our hope that by keeping the technology requirements of our proposal to a minimum, making our approach as replicable and scalable as is reasonably possible, and still delivering a smart technology approach, we can thereby help facilitate the spread, and long-term acceptance and flourishing of, smart cities throughout Canada.
 

Roles and Responsibilities of Technology Partners

Technology partners:

  • Software and hardware partners
    • Roles and responsibilities are clearly delineated and articulated in the software licensing agreements of each of the technologies.
  • Pic River Development Corporation (PRDC) – Internet Service Provider (ISP)
    • Most importantly, PRDC’s role is to provide for our Waawaa immersion video producers a place in which to offload their video each week. Without this important role being played by this ISP partner, our video producers are forced to use Dropbox or something similar to upload their video instead of being able to simply offload it. This is not an ideal option as piloted upload times during the finalist phase had been exorbitantly and prohibitively high. Offloading all of their video each week onto the servers at PRDC’s office is an extremely time-efficient way to get their video to our Nishnaabe-language overdubber.

 

Technology Accessibility and Usability for Uptake and Acceptance

Community informationals, especially for students and parents of students, will facilitate the community’s uptake of Type 1 and Type 2 technologies.
 

Identification of Risks