Networking site helping teachers succeed
New York City public school teachers are the kind of people who aren’t afraid of a problem. Case in point: Natasha and Adam McCabe — a husband and wife pair of teachers — recently founded edPeople, a site geared toward helping teachers network and build their professional communities.
On the surface, the site allows teachers to create profiles, upload their portfolios and make professional groups that can link teachers across the city. Principals can also post jobs, free of cost — different from other networking sites like LinkedIn. More important than that, they say, is improving the quality of education by allowing teachers to find the kinds of schools they most want to work in.
“Teacher quality really matters at a school, but paradoxically, teachers don’t have the same professional networks as people do in other fields,” says Natasha, who struggled to find information about teaching jobs when switching careers from fundraising. “It can be an isolating field. Your ability to find jobs that suit you and to network is fairly limited.”
Adam, who has taught high school math in the Bronx for seven years, said he faced a similar challenge when searching for the right teachers to hire at his school. “I took part in some interview processes, and it was hard to find the best candidates for certain positions.”
It is possible for teachers to find jobs through the Department of Education, teachers unions and other online resources, but the McCabes hope that edPeople will help get those in their field to take initiative. “Teachers are active, goal-oriented, assertive people. We want them to have the ability to make choices for themselves and not be passive in their careers,” Natasha said.
Another problem the website seeks to address is the high rate of teacher attrition, which is climbing according to 2013 data from the United Federation of Teachers. Nearly 10 percent of new teachers in New York City quit before their first year was finished in the 2011-2012 school year, and nearly one-third of teachers hired in 2008 are no longer in the city’s schools.
“Teacher turnover is a huge problem,” Adam said. “I’ve witnessed teachers who may have been happy at one school, but because of what seems like a lack of options they either leave NYC schools or leave teaching all together.”
EdPeople is a labor of love for the pair, and also one of hope. The site was recently launched in beta, but their ultimate mission is to have more of their colleagues end up as they are — happily teaching in schools where they feel supported and in step with their schools’ teaching philosophy and administration.
“If we could create a thriving, supportive professional community among city teachers, it’s a great thing for everyone — especially students,” said Natasha.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is an image file format. It’s based on valid XML and is brought to you free as an open standard from W3C (the final authority on web standards.)
So what’s so special about it?
It’s a scalable vector, so it will render on cleanly, without compression artifacts, or degradation of visual quality, on both mobile screens and large displays.
How’s that different than a raster image, like PNG, JPEG, ect?
Raster images are bitmaps. They are made up of a grid of picture elements called “pixels”. They work by attributing a color value to each pixel. A red diagonal line from the top left corner would be defined as follows:
Row: 1 Column: 1 Color: Red
Row: 2 Column: 2 Color: Red
Row: 3 Column: 3 Color: Red
These tiny pixels make up the image. The amount of these pixels in a particular area is referred to as “resolution”, for example 72 DPI (Dots Per Inch). The higher the resolution, the finer the points, the nicer the image looks, as well as a greater file size.
Vector images are relatively defined connected points with filled in colors. The equivalent diagonal line in the example above:
Start Red: Row: 1 Column 1
Stop Red: Row 3 Column 3
With our raster example, that’s 3 lines of information versus our vector example with 2 lines. What happens when we decide we want to use our diagonal line on a large display instead of a mobile screen, and our 3 pixel line now needs to be 100 pixels. You have to keep defining each 100 pixels and filling them in red. Even though it’s the same thing over and over. That’s 30 times more information required, and a new image file. Since the vector is relatively defined, you just tell it to end at Row: 100 Column: 100. Same 2 lines of information. Infact, the engine that allows you to view SVG file “knows” it can keep enlarging the graphic as required by the user.
But wait, there’s more!
We’ve established vectors require less information and a smaller file size, with one file can be scaled to any screen size without loss of quality, and is freely available from the Internet Authority. It’s supported by the most current version of all browsers, including mobile. It can be opened, edited and re-saved without loss of quality. It’s composed of XML code, so the the text is actually stored as a type, can be indexed by Google. Colors and other values can also be replaced by server side scripts!
So what’s the problem?
While Firefox allows you to view SVG’s, it renders, or “freezes” the image as a raster. It effectively presents your SVG with the limitations of your equivalent PNG at the effective size. While this is fine is most cases, it’s not so fine for zooming or scrolling. This is a documented Firefox bug (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=600207).
Try it out!
Zoom in on our website logo. For Mac: CMD + ‘+’ For PC: CTRL + ‘+’. Or View > Zoom/Increase. If the image is blurring, you’re using a browser that doesn’t support SVG, or you’re using Firefox. Try Chrome!