As principal of Lewis Elementary School, I try to visit each of my classrooms every morning to check in and say hello. In addition throughout the day, I spend more extended time visiting classrooms, talking with teachers and students, and gaining a better understanding of the work taking place, and looking for ways that I can provide helpful feedback and support.
I try to document these visits and I have used various methods to do this, including tracking them on spreadsheets and web forms. Recently, I have become interested in a technology called Beacons, more specifically, iBeacons and how they can be used to help me keep track of my movements around my school, and provide me with ambient logging of my classroom visits.
iBeacons are small, battery powered Bluetooth devices that emit a low power radio signal. Smartphones, equipped with various apps, can connect with these beacons, and as a result things can happen based on proximity to the beacon. For example beacons, and apps on your smartphone, can be used together to initiate alerts or notices based on proximity. There is much discussion currently about how these beacons can be used in retail settings to alert customers to products and services based on proximity. I have been thinking about a school setting and how the technology can be used in interesting ways in our classrooms. Several examples of this were recently written up over at Educate 1:1 (The Potential of iBeacons for Schools)
Recently, I placed an Estimote iBeacon in my office. Using an iOS app called Proximity Log, I started having Proximity Log track my time spent in my office based on proximity to the beacon. Whenever I enter my office, Proximity Log connects with the beacon, and begins to keep track of the time I am near that beacon, and thus in my office. Proximity Log keeps track of the number of visits and the duration of each of those visits. The data is exportable and can be used in programs such as Excel or Google Sheets.
I am working to place additional iBeacons in my classrooms and set up the Proximity Log app to interact with these specific classroom beacons. Once set up, Proximity Log will note when I enter a classroom, and how long I stay in the room, and keep track of those visits. I can then analyze this ambient logging and make sure that I am visiting all my classrooms on a regular basis. One of my professional goals is to spend extended periods of time in classrooms, providing feedback and support. With the use of iBeacons, and Proximity Log, I hope to do a better job keeping track of these classroom visits.