ITP Ideas


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Governor's School ITP Ideas



  • Don't replicate others' work
  • Don't build specialized tech if something general already exists
    • Video conferencing, wikis, CMS
  • Try to make it work globally
  • Political problems or $$ problems kill half of your ideas
  • For health, must be voluntary
    • I've learned over the years about political problems
  • Most of the problems are content, not tech problems
  • Use open standards
  • Allow people to use it or not how they see fit

Response to Others' Ideas

Many of you proposed a video conferencing system for patient to family, patient to doctor, or doctor to doctor. I believe that general video conferencing software like Skype meets the needs of these people already. No new technology is needed to solve these problems. What is missing is the political or $$ will to work on these problems. Political will is a large factor. And by politics I'm not talking about Democrats, Republicans, Congress, and local governments - although they frequently are roadblocks. I'm talking about people who are content with the way things work. Staff members who know their jobs and are afraid of change. Entrenched companies making money now do not like new ideas that compete with their business models. People do not like change since it is risky. Things change slowly.

I've learned this over many years of getting my ideas shot down. What may look like a good idea on the outside my not fly in the (corporate) culture. ("Corporate culture" best defines this type of culture, but this principle does not just apply to corporations - non-profits, schools, communities, a state, a country)

Almost every idea proposed would require some sort of change in culture; these changes need to be understood before implementing an idea. Implementing Moodle in a school is a giant change in culture. Some people will like it, a lot will not. Many teachers who have been using the same methods for years will not want to implement Moodle. I've found it is best to give people a choice and let them implement it how they feel they will be use it. This would cause uniform or perfect implementation but allow people to best pick what works for them

In addition, many of the ideas you proposed are content problems. The technology already exists to make things easy - but the content does not. Online, open-source textbooks are a good example. The technology, like wikis exist, but books are being built slowly on wiki books. And there is no need to create a wiki books "competitor" as wiki books seems to work technically.

My Ideas

SeniorQuoter v3 Voting

I run an open source senior quote collection tool SeniorQuoter A team of 4 other programmers and me built version 2, the administration interface, in a group study which was remarkably similar in structure to an ITP. We are at 2.0 beta now and about 40 fairly minor bugs exist. I never had the time to work on it, but I was hoping a few of you who knew PHP could help me patch things up. (Not as an ITP but in your free time)

For the ITP I am proposing to extend SeniorQuoter to more areas to help high school yearbooks. I propose we help high schools conduct the senior survey (eg: pick the person most likely to succeed; best class couple; etc) The project would be built in PHP and would be failry easy to build for new programmers. I've taught PHP/MySQL before for version 2, so I am more than willing to do this for version 3. We could also build voting in (ie class officer, prom court) The benefit of extending SeniorQuoter is that all of the student information is already in the program (both so we don't have to build that piece on the backend and that yearbook depts only have to input the info once) More and more stuff is moving online, and I hope SeniorQuoter will be the ultimate tool for yearbooks looking to streamline the process and move onto the web. (Plus since there are no competitors this fits in nicely with my principle #1)

Pill Bottle Pressure Pad

So what I am proposing is something simpler and for consumers. Someone else proposed something like this, but I modified it somewhat: Some people (including me) forget either to take their medicine or forget if they have taken it already. Both of these are dangerous. There should be some sort of system that tracks if you have taken your medicine already. But you should not have to mark it off separately that you have taken your medicine because this adds a step and is not reliable because you may forget to "check off" that you have taken your medicine. Thus I think we should make a pressure pad which you place your medicine on. The pressure pad will feel when you lift the bottle and mark off that you have taken your medicine. If you have not taken it after a certain time, it will start to beep and/or send you a text message. After you have taken it once that day (or however programmed) it will glow red to indicate that you should not take it again. It could store a log which could be automatically sent to a doctor or relative.

Your Ideas


About 50% of you proposed some sort of online site which had all of the notes, assignments, etc for a particiular class. Although I do not personally use it, I have heard that Moodle solves this problem. Thus I believe that we should use our resources to replicate Moodle, when this problem can be solved by encouraging the implementation of Moodle.

National Health Care DB

For health care there are already many health care systems on computer. A national system will not work (although it would be very nice) because of privacy concerns and belief in the US of the principle of free-choice. (Taiwan has what many of you proposed - with smart cards - and spends the least on administration - plus they have a nationalized system) The only hope I see for a national system in the US is some sort of open-exchange specification where every doctor has his/her own software and the different software is able to talk to each other using this system.

As for building this software itself, as many of you proposed, there are already a lot of choice. My mom is a hospice nurse and a computer replaced her paper notes half a year ago. She hates it. The software is awful and really user-unfriendly. (Steve Jobs please take over this industry). The problem as I see it is that the people choosing this software do not have to actually use it day-to-day. Thus there is no impetus for the companies to improve their UI. There is a lot of $$ in this industry, but you don't succeeded with your UI. Also these systems are very complex from a requirement and regulatory model. I don’t believe that we would be successful in this industry in 5 weeks.

Especially Viable Ideas

These are ideas that both I proposed and wrote down from others which I find especially viable.


  • SQ extension for Voting
    • Prom court
    • Most ____
    • Etc
  • Teacher can see every screen and select screen to go up on projector
  • Scan card/smart card pass system and attendance
  • Better attendance system
    • Can submit requests for approval
    • Alerts teachers of absences
  • A Linux live CD testing system.
    • It would be locked down (no internet except to send results; encrypted test qus; no flash drives or cds for security; would work on every recent machine no matter what is installed, nothing to install
  • Trend monitor for online grade books
  • Integrated media system for teachers
  • Integrated files hosting for yearbook, newspaper, tv, community relations
  • Our school is trying out laptops dedicated to a classroom, however the problem I noticed was a lack of content. E-Textbooks are a start, but online there is no good source of content. I envision something as rich as a textbook, but interactive not only with prepared animations, but with other students in the class, and around the world
  • Better scheduling (AJAX)
  • A wiki that is written by students from around the world and will eventually become a great open-source, free (in both meanings of the word) textbook. Plus it gets students to think about and share their work with the world.
  • Music teaching

Health Care

  • Better hospice system
  • Health portal
    • Works on may devices
    • Integrates with existing systems
    • (so much $$ in this; no more good ideas)
  • Larger healthcare info exchange standard (but no product)
    • Free to choose best product
  • Smart card based system for storing records (software + hardware)
  • Some sort of info if taken medication already
    • For example a mat that lights up a different color if item picked up in last (x) hrs preferably non-electronic
    • Pressure mat
    • Stores when last picked up
    • Beeps/Sends txt when you haven't picked up
    • Log can be sent to doctor
    • Mobile version for medicine you take with you
      • Syncs
      • No pressure pad
  • Scheduling
    • Reminders
  • Avvo for health care