MassCUE is pleased to announce Kevin Murphy as our Featured Educator for March 2023!
If you want to stay on top of advances in technology, find something you are passionate about in and out of the classroom and make it your hobby. That advice comes from this months’ MassCUE Featured Educator, Kevin Murphy, who is a Computer Science and Digital Literacy teacher at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield. Murphy credits his involvement with Frontier Community Television for helping him to keep up with technology and stay sharp. It also keeps him connected with the community and provides opportunities to mentor students.
“The students can hold the camera or do the live stream or do commentary and I always tell them it’s okay to make mistakes,” Murphy says. “It’s a sandbox. The kids see me struggle with a wire or something that’s not working and they understand that learning is a life-long process.”
Murphy started out as a Spanish teacher, but his passion for technology led to a switch to teaching computer science. Since then he’s transitioned the once business-only curriculum into one more inclusive of the digital arts and computer science – upgrading the last remaining computer lab in the district. He has brought College Board AP Computer Science courses to Frontier as well as 3-D Game Design; Computer-Aided Design (CAD); photo and video editing; social media and an after-school E-sports team.
“It’s all based on the kids’ interests,” says Murphy. “They come to class excited about technology. They are the ones that drive it.”
In fact, many parents choose Frontier through school choice because of the computer science options. And for students who struggle to find interest in the more “traditional” subjects, these classes can be a path to finishing high school.
“For kids who say they have no interests besides video games, you can get them excited to learn how a game was built or how Photoshop was used in a game, for example,” says Murphy. “Then they might realize they want to get a job in that area.”
Murphy says he decided to focus on expanding the computer science program at Frontier after attending the MassCUE Fall Conference and hearing about how important this field would be in the future. He taught himself computer programming by taking courses and attending conferences and PD programs. He says he’s been able to expand offerings at his school thanks to free PD programs offered by groups such as the National Center for Computer Science Education and his involvement with groups like MassCUE and CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association).
“It’s a survival method for computer science teachers who are not industry trained,” Murphy says. “Having other computer science educators to rely on in email forums, help sessions and weekly meetings, plus having turnkey curriculum and free content management systems have been my lifeline for growing the program.”
The growth of the program is also thanks to Murphy’s curiosity and passion for learning technology. He started the 3-D game design program with inspiration from MassCUE educator Steve Issacs and some experimentation with 3-D modeling tools Blender and Unreal Engine.
Murphy is also teaching a computer integrated manufacturing course through Project Lead the Way, which Frontier brought to the district through a grant.
“Because technology changes so much, it’s so important to have a curriculum that changes with the times,” says Murphy. “Project Lead the Way offers good training and content so I can focus on my teaching practices.”
When it comes to favorite tools, this computer science teacher has a long list. For web tools, Murphy recommends Pixlr for photo editing, Canva for design and Vectr for vector graphics (which pairs nicely with Pixlr). For learning 3-D modeling, Murphy’s go-to is Tinkercad. Scratch is great for programming, as is Replit and code.org. CapCut is great for video editing. Murphy’s software recommendations include Gimp for photo editing, Inkscape for vector graphics and Krita. Blender is a 3D modeling tool that has tons of resources (it can also be used as a video editor). Once you have designed something in Blender you can move it into a game that you have designed in Unity. For video editing, Adobe Premiere is powerful and an industry standard.
Although he says he has to spend a lot of out of school time keeping up on all of this technology, Murphy says it is all part of his professional and personal growth and it’s worth it.
“I believe in learning skills that match your passions,” he says. “Technology educators are lucky because there are so many tools out there to keep your interest.”
Kevin Murphy is a Spanish teacher turned Digital Literacy and Computer Science teacher driven by a deep passion for technology. After adding a computer language lab at Pioneer Valley Regional in 2002, Kevin pursued a Masters of Teaching in Instructional Technology at Framingham State University, embracing a core teaching style of hybrid-online and face-to-face.
In 2008, Kevin accepted a half time Instructional Technology Coach and Technology Classroom Teacher position at Frontier Regional School. His passion for being in the classroom naturally evolved into the role of a full-time classroom teacher.
Dedicated to lifelong learning with technology, Kevin has grown as a media professional engaging with Adobe Suite as a freelance videographer and community television producer – a role he’s had since 2004. Serving in Northfield and Deerfield as an outreach liaison in the schools, he has mentored hundreds of students and adults to volunteer at school and community events including sports, theater, concerts and government meetings. Since 2010, the #FCATsports production has won numerous awards from the Alliance for Community Media – Northeast Region for live broadcasting on cable and on YouTube.
Kevin’s work for Frontier Community Television can be found here. To see tutorials and other content created for students, follow Kevin on YouTube here or follow him on Instagram: @kevmurphy775 and @FCATmedia or on Twitter @murphyk775.Print this post