Best In Show (BIS) Technology Use Proposal

Prepared by: Margaret Thayer Prepared for: W.G., BIS staff member Date: November 2009 Introduction This proposal considers technology use for the Best In Show (BIS) instructional setting, a transient classroom with one instructor (W.G.) whose instructional role is that of an extracurricular coach/trainer to youths aged 8 to 18 who wish to compete in 4-H and American Kennel Club (AKC) sanctioned junior dog handling competitions. The proposal is a response to the instructor's interest in finding technology solutions that would streamline BIS administrative needs and thereby make it possible to extend BIS instruction to a wider audience. Other than the BIS instructor, the students, and the dogs, additional stakeholders in this setting include parents, the county 4-H staff, dog club leaders, AKC representatives, professional judges and dog handlers, dog breeders, and the owners of the rented facility where most BIS classes are held. In the extracurricular and transient BIS instructional setting, technology is currently used for a few isolated purposes rather than planned as an integral component of the curriculum and business administration. However, it is precisely the transient nature of this instructional situation that lends itself to additional online technology use. Financial resources for the BIS setting are limited, so this proposal seeks low-cost technology solutions. The overall vision of this proposal is to integrate low-cost technologies into the BIS instructional setting to streamline administrative tasks and enhance educational outcomes. To achieve this vision, this proposal seeks to accomplish the following goals: 1. streamline BIS business administration needs and thereby make it possible to extend BIS classes to a wider audience, 2. enhance the instructional experience for students and parents through online communication and evaluation of student progress, 3. address some of BIS's current challenges, and 4. accomplish the above goals at minimal cost. To address the four goals identified above, this proposal suggests these six technology solutions: 1. a Web-based class registration and payment system to streamline BIS class administration needs, 2. a Web-based student tracking system to enhance student outcomes by adding competency measures, 3. video capturing equipment to enhance student outcomes by incorporating video instruction in the curriculum and tracking students' progress with their dog handling skills, 4. video editing software to edit the video recordings, 5. a dedicated instructional Web page that will serve as a "one-stop" tool for communication and resource sharing among BIS stakeholders, and 6. an online discussion forum for use by BIS stakeholders to share needs and resources. Goals and Technology Vision

This proposal suggests possible technology solutions to streamline BIS administrative tasks and enhance educational outcomes of the students. The initial technology "wish list" included an online class registration and payment system, an online student tracking system, and video capture and editing tools to demonstrate dog handling and grooming skills to students. In addition, the technologies suggested in this proposal could address some of the challenges identified by the instructor. Not surprisingly, the number one challenge in the BIS setting is parents: the stereotypical "stage moms" who have unrealistic goals for their children, or parents who can't or won't support their child's dog showing goals. Parents and students tend to evaluate progress solely in wins and losses. However, dog showing competitions are designed to eliminate competitors, leaving only one winning dog/handler team, so most competitors experience far more losses than wins. Repeated losses in competition can be discouraging to young competitors. Therefore, this proposal seeks to encourage the use of technology to track students' skill-building progress between competitions and bolster the confidence of young competitors. One means of tracking progress is by capturing "before" and "after" videos of students that could be used for comparison purposes. In addition, an online system for tracking student progress could be used to establish competency measures (the equivalent of letter grades in a traditional classroom setting). These competency measures would not only provide a measurement tool for the instructor and the parents, but they would also establish achievable goals for students in the absence of blue ribbons and trophies. Achieving these goals could help to develop a sense of accomplishment in students who lack parental support and encouragement. In addition, the combination of video technology and online tracking with competency measures would give the instructor some concrete tools to discuss student progress with parents who have unrealistic expectations. A second major challenge in the BIS setting is a lack of resources among some students. Some student handlers may have limited means of transportation to classes or to dog shows in distant locations, or limited resources to purchase expensive dog grooming equipment. And some serious student competitors may not have access to a suitable canine partner for show handling; some dogs are simply too aggressive or shy to make a good partner in the show ring, and junior handlers who desire to advance in competition may become frustrated by their canine partner. Dog breeders sometimes provide suitable "loaner" dogs to serious junior competitors. This proposal suggests the creation of a dedicated online discussion forum that would provide BIS students the means to communicate their needs and share resources. Current Technology and Resources A crucial aspect of the BIS instructional setting is its lack of institutional and technical support. The county 4-H program staff and local dog club leaders provide scant administrative support for BIS classes, so the instructor is largely responsible for providing all the tools and materials necessary to conduct BIS classes. No training or technical support is available to the instructor or stakeholders since most technology is used in private homes. Therefore, the software solutions suggested in this proposal were selected partly because they provide technical support. BIS classes are held in a rented building at a boarding kennel that lacks broadband access. All the stakeholders live in widespread, scattered communities with varying levels of broadband access. Most of the AKC junior handlers have broadband access at home; however, many of the 4-H junior handlers live in rural communities, and only 50 to 60% of them have computer access at home. Those who do have computer access rely on many online resources about dog training, handling, grooming, and showing. Online sources are integral for providing classroom materials and professional development. Most of the BIS stakeholders (except the dogs!) use the Internet at home, and e-mail is a crucial means of communication outside the classroom sessions. Most of

the AKC junior handlers, but only about half of the 4-H handlers, are tech savvy about computer use and social networking resources. Although electronic resources are important sources of information for the instructor and most of the student handlers, they are not currently used for assessment purposes. Student information is stored and tracked in an Excel spreadsheet. The instructor uses a PowerPoint presentation for group instruction. The content of the instructor's current Website, created using FrontPage software, is focused on dog kennel and dog breeding interests with a few links to resources for junior handlers, but no part of the Website is dedicated to instructional content. The computing resource is a PC with the Windows XP operating system. To implement all of the technology solutions suggested in this proposal, the instructor will require training with new Web-based software, video camera operation, video editing skills, and YouTube developer skills. Most of this training is provided online by the software host or developer in the form of online tutorials and technical support. Student use of technologies in this instructional setting is not assured. Obviously, the BIS instructor is not in a position to ensure that all students have access to technologies in their home environments. However, other instructors also rent the building where BIS classes are held, and those instructors and students might also benefit from broadband access in the building. The instructors who rent the building might consider whether broadband access would be useful in the classroom setting and propose this technology enhancement to the owners of the building. Technology Needs The technology solutions identified in this proposal will address the needs of the BIS instructional setting in the following ways: Online class registration and payment: The adoption of a Web-based event management database service to provide online class registration and payment would streamline BIS administrative needs by replacing the current labor-intensive manual process. An online database system would add dynamic functionality by providing the ability to confirm registrations, e-mail reminders to class registrants, generate reports about class registrants, and notify constituents of upcoming classes or special events. The current list of 325 active students could be exported from the Excel spreadsheet into the customizable database. Students and parents could register for classes at any time of day. In addition, an online registration system might present a more professional image to potential students and their parents who do not know the instructor. The suggested service provides technical support and online tutorials. Online student tracking system: The adoption of a Web-based student tracking database service would not only replace the current spreadsheet tracking system with a more appropriate customizable database tool to store student information, but it would also add the abilities to track student progress using competency measures and to generate progress reports for students and parents. The suggested service includes an import wizard to transfer existing student information into a customizable database. The database administrator has the option to allow or deny online access to students and parents. Technical support and online tutorials are included. Video capturing and editing technologies: Video technologies would enhance student outcomes by incorporating video instruction in the curriculum and providing a visual means of tracking students' progress with their dog handling skills (for both students and parents). Student progress could be tracked by

comparing video records of student classroom and competition performances over time. Videos can be posted on YouTube and linked from the new BIS Web page. Dedicated instructional Web page: A Web page dedicated to instructional content could become a "one-stop" portal for existing and potential BIS students to find class information and instructional resources (or links to instructional resources). The new page could be added to the existing dog kennel Website, which presents a natural fit with junior dog handling instructional content. Online networking: A dedicated online discussion forum would enhance student outcomes by providing BIS students and parents with the means to communicate their needs and share resources with each other. This form of direct communication among students could also save some administrative time by eliminating the need for the instructor's involvement in arranging for resource sharing. The online registration system would be the highest-priority technology need for expanding BIS instruction to a wider audience. The existence of contact information for an impressive 325 active students justifies the need for a database to store and track student information; additional database functions could be phased in over time so the task is not overwhelming. The additions of video technology capability, a dedicated Web page, and an online discussion forum are somewhat lower priorities. The specific technology solutions proposed to address the above needs are detailed in the next section. Technology Solutions To address the goals and needs identified above, this proposal suggest these specific technology solutions: 1. Constant Contact Event Marketing database service: http://search.constantcontact.com/. This technology presents a low-cost solution to the goal of adding an online class registration and payment system. Constant Contact is a subscription-based service designed for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Features of this service include: • online management of all the subscriber's contacts in a customizable database; • database importing from Excel; • no software downloads needed; • hosted Website created for each event with Google Maps to show event attendees the location of the event; • free 60-day trial use; • cost based on the number of email addresses starting at $15/month for up to 500 email addresses; • online tutorials; • user-friendly Website; • free technical support even during the 60-day free trial period; • event promotion; • credit card and PayPal online payment options for event registrants; • event reporting; • information export to Excel; • additional services, such as email marketing and online surveys, available for an additional $5 per month. 2. Gradebook software by TrackMyGrades.com: http://www.trackmygrades.com/. This student information system (SIS) technology solution presents a no-frills, low-

cost solution for storing and tracking student information and the means to monitor student progress with competency measures. Features of this service include: • • • • • • • • • • • online management of all the subscriber's contacts in a customizable database; no software downloads needed; designed for individual as well as institutional subscribers; import wizard to import student data from Excel; free 30-day trial use; annual cost of $24.95 right now (regularly $33.95); familiar spreadsheet-style interface; online help files; free technical support; report generation with output to Adobe Reader (PDF); subscriber choice to allow student and parent access to information. 3. Handheld hard drive camcorder: A handheld video camera was a key item on the instructor's wish list for the purpose of demonstrating dog handling and grooming techniques and recording student progress with dog handling skills. This proposal suggests investment in a consumer-grade hard drive camcorder, which records directly to a built-in hard drive. Although more expensive than a conventional camcorder, which records on tapes or discs, a hard drive camcorder's extra expense buys convenience. Recordings can be transferred to a computer by plugging in a cable. The specific selection of camcorder model will depend on the instructor's personal choice. This proposal suggests one of the models in this review of ten top 2009 models (all Sony models except the #2 Canon model): http://camcorders.toptenreviews.com/hard-drive/. This site also includes side-byside comparisons and tips on selecting a hard drive camcorder. Camcorder technology seems to change on nearly a monthly basis, so new models and recommendations could be available in a matter of weeks. 4. Video editing software: Like the camcorder selection, the choice of video editing software is somewhat of a personal choice. This proposal does not recommend the use of the Microsoft Movie Maker software, even though it already available in the Windows XP operating system. Instead, investment in a reputable brand-name software with online user support is recommended. This Website provides a topten list of 2009 video editing software: http://video-editing-softwarereview.toptenreviews.com/. This proposal suggests the Adobe Premiere Elements 8 software, largely on the strength of the Adobe brand name and the availability of user support. 5. Web page development: This proposal suggests enhancing the BIS instructor's existing dog kennel Website with a dedicated junior handling instructional page that will become the "one-stop" tool for communication with students, parents, and other stakeholders. Since the instructor already owns and knows how to use FrontPage software, no additional software purchase or skills training will be necessary to accomplish this task. This proposal suggests the following content be included: • • • • • • • Description of available handling instruction and prices Description of means to measure student progress Links to YouTube video instruction Instructional resources and external links Student accomplishment stories Link to Constant Contact database Link to TrackMyGrades.com database

• Discussion forum hosting • Calendar of upcoming dog-related events 6. Online discussion forum: An online discussion forum, created for free using Google Groups, would enhance student outcomes by providing an online forum for resource sharing among BIS students, parents, and other stakeholders. For example, students and parents could arrange for carpooling to classes and competitions, schedule group practice sessions outside of class sessions, arrange for alternative canine partners for students, and share grooming tools and tips. The specific technology solutions suggested in this section were chosen over other options based on the following three main considerations: low cost, technical support, and ease of use. To implement all of the technology solutions suggested in this proposal, the instructor will require training with the following software and tools: 1. Constant Contact user skills (online tutorials and technical user support provided): http://search.constantcontact.com/ 2. Gradebook software user skills (online tutorials and technical user support provided): http://www.trackmygrades.com/ 3. Video camera operation (instructions provided with camera) 4. Video editing skills (online tutorials; also see instructions on YouTube's Creator's Corner: http://www.youtube.com/t/creators_corner) 5. YouTube Developer skills (provided online: http://code.google.com/apis/ youtube/2.0/developers_guide_protocol.html) Timeline The timeline for full implementation of this technology proposal is one year, beginning December 1, 2009. Two specific timeline goals were identified by the instructor: • The online class registration and payment system should be in place by January 1, 2010, so the instructor can begin using the system at the start of the calendar year. • The camcorder purchase should be completed by February 1, 2010, so the instructor has time to learn its use prior to the Westminster Dog Show in midFebruary 2010. Two BIS students will be competing at this dog show, which is the "Superbowl" event of the AKC dog showing world. Most of the tasks should be completed in the first quarter of 2010, followed by a period of evaluation, changes, and Web page content enhancements. The full proposed timeline is as follows: Task Time frame Completion date January 1, 2010 February 1, 2010 February 1, 2010 February 2, 2010 February 28, 2010

Online registration/payment December 1, 2009 to system development January 1, 2010 Camcorder selection and purchase Dedicated Web page creation (initial content) Discussion forum setup and guideline development December 2009 and January 2010 January 2010 January 2010

Online registration/payment January and February 2010 system evaluation period (60-day free trial)

Online student tracking system development Online student tracking service evaluation period Evaluation period of all technologies

January and February 2010 March 2010 (30-day trial period) April to November 2010

March 1, 2010 March 30, 2010 December 1, 2010

Additional Web page content February to December 2010 December 1, 2010 development

Budget Currently, BIS instruction is a break-even enterprise, with 4-H instruction provided on a volunteer basis and private lessons provided at a minimal cost. The instructor has budgeted $2000.00 to purchase the technology tools needed to implement this proposal. In light of the lack of technical support in this instructional setting, this proposal suggests investing in subscription services that include technical support as well as tools with reliable brand names and good user instructions rather than relying on unreliable freeware. The budget for this proposal is as follows: Item Constant Contact Event Management subscription TrackMyGrades.com Gradebook software subscription Hard drive camcorder Adobe Premiere Elements 8 video editing software Initial purchase cost Free 60-day trial (Jan/Feb 2010) Free 30-day trial (March 2010) $450-$800 $100-$150 Monthly service fee $15.00 Total cost for proposal timeline $15.00 x 9 months = $135.00 $24.95 x 8 months = $199.60 $800 $150 $1284.60

$24.95 NA NA Total cost

Budget notes: • This budget includes only the technology purchases and services included in this proposal, and not overhead costs associated with the BIS administration. • Staff time is not included as a budget item since the sole staff person is not a paid employee. • All training needs will be accomplished with online tutorials and device instructions on the instructor's own time, so training costs are not included as a budget item. • When the cost of an item falls within a range, the maximum amount was used for the total cost.