The man behind the scenes
300 text messages and 200 emails a day–heâ€™s the â€śgo-to guy.â€ť Technology coach Brian Mason has virtually been in every single classroom on campus to help teachers learn about and incorporate technology into their daily lessons.
â€śHeâ€™s the most amazing person on this campus. He has a fan club. Itâ€™s the Dr. Mason Fan Club,â€ť English teacher Victoria Workman said. â€śCertain teachers could not survive if it werenâ€™t for him.â€ť
Masonâ€™s passion for technology had first sparked in junior high. He was that â€śseventh grade Audio-Visual (AV) nerdâ€ť and could always make the movie projector run when no one else could. Since then, his interest in technology has prompted students and teachers at school to become more immersed with technology. When Mason first started here as a classroom teacher, he turned his regular, old classroom dry erase board into a functional touchscreen that his students could touch and operate.
â€śI tend to want to solve other problems for other people with [technology] and thatâ€™s really important to me. I always thought, thereâ€™s always going to be a more interesting, better, easier way to do things or a way that interests my students and helps me watch them interact with the content that isnâ€™t just based on me,â€ť Mason said. â€śItâ€™s based on their interaction with finding out an idea, constructing an idea, constructing their own learning, and thatâ€™s always been really important to me, that they construct meaning from it without me.â€ť
Upon arriving early in the morning, he only spends five quick minutes in his office each day, running around campus to ensure that teachers have the opportunity to efficiently use technology. Whether itâ€™s offering an in-service session to teachers, moving a cart of laptops across campus to take them to a testing area or climbing a ladder to fix a projector, Mason administers all the technology issues at school.
â€śThe minute I get here, itâ€™s go, go, go until the minute I leave. Itâ€™s a lot of fun. The most rewarding part [of this job] is being able to support and assist my colleagues because I know when Iâ€™m doing that, that support is fanning out to a much larger number of students than I could ever reach in just my classroom. [Itâ€™s] really rewarding to me to know that if [I] could make the technology work in a bunch of classrooms on campus, a very large number of our students will be able to use it and enjoy and learn from it. Thatâ€™s what I want. It really is a great thing,â€ť Mason said.
Outside of school, Mason has written technology-related patents by himself that have been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). His first product is a screencasting device for any Apple or Android product that doesnâ€™t require a network, setting it apart from Google Chrome Cast, Apple TV and Roku. Unlike the other devices, Masonâ€™s screencasting device allows teachers to freely roam around their classroom, untethered from the front of the room, and cast whatever is on their device up on their projector. This tool enables teachers to simply hand this device to a student and encourage them to participate in class activities, increasing teacher-student involvement efficiency.
â€śI really created it for teachers,â€ť Mason said. â€śI wanted to make something that was very simple to use and let [classroom involvement] occur much more organically than the typical 1915 teacher at the front and students in rows sort of paradigm that people are used to.â€ť
This past January, Mason attended the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV, where he showcased his screencasting prototype to the CEOs of Apple and Intel, along with a quarter of a million other people from all over the world.
The first 200 of these screencasting devices will go to the school to further help benefit the teacher and students. With the approval of his device completed and the production already underway, he has recently spoken to his Intellectual Property attorneys and came up with five other [currently proprietary] ideas to start working on.
â€śThereâ€™s a lot out there to do. The nice thing is that itâ€™s not just teachers, although theyâ€™re always my first group of people that I always think about, but anyone who presents or wants to show the movies they took that day on the television in their hotel room. Some of the people we had come up to us at the CES in Las Vegas [were from] NASA, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M [and] LA Unified School District,â€ť Mason said. â€śBut, I always think of teachers first I have to say.â€ť
By Sophia Ding, Staff writer