2015 in Review

I guess it’s worth trying to summarize what, if anything, I accomplished or at least experienced in the past year. Working in education, there’s a constant reminder to self that reflection is as important to growth and learning as absorbing new ideas and doing things.  So here goes:

Technology

As a nerd this is the most easily quantified as I look at the digital trail I’m leaving behind. In 2015 I tried out quite a few new programming platforms, languages and frameworks. I built things in the cloud with Javascript, Ruby, Python, Go, Swift, PHP, Reactive.JS and the Flux paradigm, Flask, Bootstrap, Material Design, d3 (a Javascript data visualization library), Grape (a Ruby API builder), Android and iOS SDKs, Xcode, Eclipse, Google App Engine and Google APIs, Amazon Web Services, Docker, HTTP Live Streaming (both on the client and on the server side), and static website generators (Pelican and Jekyll).

I created 5 new and updated 20 public source code repositories on Github.com.

To get acquainted with the Internet of Things, I tinkered with Arduino, the Particle Spark, RFM69 wireless chips, and the BeagleBone Black single-board computer. My electronics (and construction) tools and skills are still very rudimentary, so here’s a place for growth in the coming year.

I also got hands-on about (especially the MakerBot Replicator) 3D printers (how they work, how to calibrate them, how to repair them).

I upgraded my school district’s network to a new firewall and helped move students and staff toward a cloud-based future and away from reliance on individual workstations and physical servers (bidding farewell to 9-year-old Apple Xserves when they fail ungracefully).

Education

Because of my school district’s master plan to modernize our school campuses, I learned a lot about (and generated even more questions about) what the physical and technological demands of a 21st century classroom should be. EdCamps, Google Hangouts, and face-to-face meetings (especially with talented groups of people like those on the CETPA Edtech mailing list, BAISNet, the Stanford FabLearn attendees, and the Bay Area Maker Educators Google Plus community) helped immensely, and I hope that I might have provided a few useful comments in return.

Personal Growth

I don’t think I changed substantially for the better in 2015, but some milestones made an impact. There was an afternoon in April at a magnificent villa in Rio de Janeiro that my family and I spent reviewing touching correspondence that my late father received 40 years ago and that was essentially sealed away until recently. And my mother’s passing after a slow 10 year decline into forgetfulness and silence as sad as it was, did create opportunities to reach out to my siblings and their families and to eventually have a short but meaningful reunion on a beautiful New England October weekend.

In the dubious distinction category I logged 269 films on Letterboxd during 2015. Films continue to impart meaning to me, and my watchlist (films I need to see) grows longer every year, and I hope you had or have a chance to see some of the films on my 19-best list of 2015.

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