Activity Builder is here! People in the Desmos morning session of TMC15 were hacking away on it before the big reveal. I watched people hack around with the possibilities and participated in a few of their activities. My problem was I'm not sure what, if anything, it does for me.

At the moment we do a lot of recreate the picture.

With Activity Builder, it wouldn't be hard to recreate this exact thing. With the added benefit of progress tracking and the magic of class overlay.

My big reservation: permanence. This is part of the reason I've never gotten into whiteboarding, the associated work never gets saved. Students could dutifully complete my match the graph activity but wouldn't take anything home with them at the end of the day.

How do we solve the permanence problem? Have them jot down their answers? In my mind it's the followup activity that matters. Whether you were doing it with a TI-84 or a custom Desmos activity, there should be a follow up where students keep some token. I realized that the hard way and found the real retention happened when we busted out the hard copies.

There is some potential here, but I would caution intrepid activity builders about the need for permanence. Digital collection of stuff is great, but lack of reference material can be a problem later. In some distant future where I'm in a real 1:1 environment (devices belong to students), archiving what we do through this new tool would be a must.

AuthorJonathan Claydon