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Comment Problem with educational models (Score 1) 176

In many of the cases where you have one super successful model is that it's tied to the people driving it, not the model itself. This has happened countless times, where a model is pushed onto a school/classroom, but without the buy in and passion of the original innovators, it fails miserably.

Comment Interesting implications for Tacoma (Score 1) 410

I work up in Bellevue, (which means a crappy commute, but I can wfh a decent amount), and it's amazing how much cheaper Tacoma is than Seattle, where my brother who works for Amazon is stuck. Although that being said, it's also beginning to gentrify a lot, especially in the Hilltop area, which is really cleaning up from it's slum history. I bought a really nice three story house for under 200k in the winter, and it was recently valued at 250k. While Amazon probably won't be coming here, as transit options start to open up, (And they get that whole mess with the municipal fiber network fixed) I think Tacoma's going to start seeing a lot more tech. Also, a lot of smaller start ups are coming here, realizing they can get amazing prices on office space.

All in all, that makes me nervous. I grew up in Tacoma, then moved up to the Seattle area to find tech work, then once I was able to wfh a bit more, bought a house at the bottom of the market in Tacoma, but I'm worried about what will happen. Thus far Tacoma's kept a lot of it's gritty feel, which isn't for everyone but I've always liked, but more and more I'm seeing the signs of gentrification.

Comment 95% of people now own a computing device. (Score 1) 405

Back in the 90s, 5-10% of people had a computer, and that 5-10% of people knew how to use it. Now, everyone has some type of computing device, but the percentage of tech literacy hasn't gone up (especially with the boomer generation.) Dealing with a much larger, scarier, black boxy world is a hell of a lot more frustrating than it used to be.

Comment Fix HR practices. (Score 1) 88

It's still easier (cheaper) to go with a hiring company that hires H1Bs, so a lot of HR departments will go with that option (even if it costs them more in the long run.) There's also the issue with tech companies looking for unicorns instead of being willing to train people. It becomes an excuse to go after H1Bs who will in essence be indentured servants. The real issue here is corporate greed and HR stupidity.

Comment Vendor packaged BS. (Score 1) 216

The problem with this is the same problem that's happening with elearning. Administrators see a cool video by a vendor and decide that's going to be the magic bullet. Then, you have 3rd graders learning Java. Then in middle school, they switch to VB. Then, in high school, it's back to Java again. Teaching kids to code like this is going to make them hate everything. Furthermore, good luck finding teachers for this- there's already a massive teacher shortage, and far too few math and science teachers, much less anything else. Instead, a better path would be to start teaching kids digital literacy. Sounds like a buzzword, but really what it comes down to is teaching kids how to use the internet and other technologies to learn. I saw a librarian who took a musty old high school library and turned it into a digital learning center, where he'd partner with teachers to add online components to their curriculum, so whenever kids felt a need to do so, they'd go to the library to do the curriculum there. All the computers faced his desk, so he could keep an eye on them. I saw something in that place I had never seen before- rows of teenagers at computers, and none of them were on youtube, facebook, twitter, etc. They were all looking at blogs, wikipedia, etc. Teaching kids that the internet is more than just facebook is far more powerful for the purpose of creating a stronger tech workforce than shoving prepackaged garbage coding plans down people's throats. (Furthermore, if you want to really ruin any subject for kids, make it common core.)

Comment Did my master's in edutech- Here's what works. (Score 1) 231

I did my Master's thesis on successful implementations of educational technology.

One of the most successful implementations in a library was done in a low income high school in the Tacoma area. I had the amazing opportunity to interview the guy who ran it, and his story went like this- When he inherited the library from a kindly old librarian, it had become a place where students took naps. What he did was he moved the bookshelves out of the way, created a circular desk in the middle, and had four rows of computers, monitors facing him. He could see what information students were interacting with and if need be, police it, but he rarely had to.

Normally when I go to a library, I see a bunch of teenagers on facebook, youtube, etc. These kids were looking up blogs, wikipedia, etc. He explained that the first thing he did was integrate with the teachers, and ask if they wanted web quests, or similar web integration. He had a real talent for coming up with all sorts of cool online activities that could be easily integrated into a curriculum, and teachers were constantly giving him material to work with- if a student was struggling or wanted to do work on their own, he'd take them. This did mean a lot of extra work on his end, but the implementation was worth it. Not only was he getting students engaged with the material, he was helping students gain digital literacy.

I don't know how much you could take away from this for an elementary school library, but there's a lot to be said about finding cool online integration for whatever the teachers are working with- and that's huge. If you are in alignment with the teacher's curriculum, you'll have a much better chance of being successful. Also, the big thing he said he owed everything on was administration support, so best of luck with that side.

Comment I did my master's thesis on this stuff. (Score 1) 169

So, the data says that yes, hybrid (GOOD Hybrid) classrooms do work pretty well. The data also goes on to say that a lot of this is contextual, and really cannot be generalized. There's so much hype that forgets about entire populations of learners. I think the most important thing is to offer choice- learners will self determine what works best for them.

Comment I did my master's thesis on elearning. (Score 1) 168

So, questions like this are interesting, but what I feel is more important is how effective is it going to be in the classroom? What most teachers and students are really concerned about is how can this better the student's learning and save the teacher time. Administrators care about the bottom line- the budget. If this, or any, technology meets those needs, questions about cloud privacy, and a lot of other things, go out the door.

But a very big thing to focus on is making sure the teachers know how to use the technology. That's true of any elearning solution. I've seen cases where a really robust technology was given to a school, but without sufficient professional development, it fell flat. But as more and more teachers retire, and a new generation of teachers in their 20s replaces them, technologies like these will become ubiquitous, and while questions about privacy are scary, I feel that the ability for teachers to connect with students on multiple channels is overall a positive thing.

Comment I did my master's thesis on this. (Score 1) 215

So. Key findings. OnlineTraditionalHybrid for attrition and performance. Hybrid means much greater time investment. For hybrid to succeed, you need a lot of factors working together. Students need to know what they're doing. Face to face classes need to be more student centered/fluid. Faculty need to be given sufficient professional development. LMS coherence is important. Tenured faculty will want to stick with what they've been doing for years. Student body makeup is important. CS students age ~20 will do much better than veterinary students age ~40. Digital literacy matters, but can be taught. I had a lot more findings, but this is not news. One of the biggest things is that many online courses are very poorly designed from a pedagogical point of view. It's almost like you asked some person who's been teaching face to face for 20 years to teach an online course with no experience or training.

Comment I did my master's thesis on this. (Score 2) 372

So, there are a ton of issues here that I could comment on, but the bit about professors feeling administrators are being paternalistic and refusing it flat out for those reasons is particularly interesting. After having several interviews with a head of Instructional tech at my research college, they told me that the biggest frustration was the tenure system. Tenured professors would always teach they way they had always taught, while instructional technologists at private universities could leverage more control in getting a coherent LMS environment set up. It really seemed like one of the biggest roadblocks for getting cool instructional technology implemented was somewhat political and petty in nature.

In a similar vein to the bit on smaller colleges, I later interviewed a professor at a community college who was able to implement really awesome instructional tech, and the trick there was to implement it in such a way where it saved professors time and allowed for more functional instruction. Too often it seems like another loop for them to go through, but if they provide the correct scaffolding and support on the academic side, it can be done right. It just rarely is, but that's usually caused by a number of factors all working together to create a really awful e-learning experience.

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling