Profile of an HCLE Pioneer – Alan Kay

Alan Kay’s accomplishments created the foundations for so many of today’s tech advances that advocates of his work have dedicated a wiki to him, yet the foundations are so fundamental that the billions of people benefiting from his contributions probably aren’t aware of his influence. HCLE’s focus is on the history of computing in learning and education which is why we are collecting information about his work with the Vivarium Program (See our post about Ann Marion for another perspective), Smalltalk, and Dynabook.

Vivarium

The Vivarium Program created an innovative learning environment that was one of the earliest attempts to shift the school environment from a teacher educating passive students from a set curriculum, to students actively learning in ways that they inspired which were facilitated by teachers. Instead of reading about biology, students created simulations of biological systems that they could modify to better understand cause and effect as well as interconnectivity. It was the precursor to the personalized learning that is becoming more familiar

Smalltalk

While there were programming languages available for the Vivarium Program, Alan Kay saw a need for a different architecture. Some students may prefer text-based programming languages, but he saw the need for a language based on objects. Our world is built from objects, and programming based on objects allowed the computer to operate on things that had a variety of characteristics. The result was Smalltalk. The concept gained wider acceptance after the user community shifted the definition slightly, and modern object-oriented programming languages were born. Though it strayed from his original intent, object-oriented programming languages have become the basis of much of today’s computing.

Dynabook Learning Today

A natural extension of Alan Kay’s desire to transform learning was the Dynabook, a device that didn’t exist at the time. He saw a need for a thin and portable computer that would fit in a child’s hands and that the child could operate. Such a device would work well in the environment that was part of the Vivarium Program, as well as outside the school. A logical choice for the programming was Smalltalk. The three could be combined to dramatically expand learning opportunities, especially with advances such as the PLATO network and other innovations he worked on at Xerox PARC.

Learning Today

The Dynabook wasn’t created, Smalltalk became something different, and the Vivarium Program was eventually cancelled by Apple; but their influences have come together for children who learn while pursuing their curiosity when they use and play with tablet computers. A child learning to read at their own pace from an app downloaded to an iPad is remarkably similar to at least some of Alan Kay’s original intentions. Maybe the rest of the vision merely requires a bit more patience.

 

Additional information and pertinent links are available on our wiki.
Several of his videos have also been added to our HCLE Pioneers playlist on YouTube.

Profile of an HCLE Pioneer – Ann Marion

Ann Marion has long been a champion of novel solutions in educational technology to accomplish the integration of science and technology subject matter into the curriculum.

Ann Marion is primarily known for her work on the Vivarium Project, but her work extends before and after those ten years. Prior to working at Apple on Vivarium, she was at HP, Atari, and MIT. After Vivarium she worked with Houghton Mifflin on multi-media projects and also at her own business Marion Works.

Her primary role at the Vivarium Project was as Program Director, the person responsible for budgets and organization of the 10-12 person team: Alan Kay, Kim Rose, Lori Weiss, Programmers: Scott Wallace, Ted Kaehler, Larry Yaeger, Jay Fenton, Hardware: Tom Ferrara, School Coordinaor: Dave Mintz.

Ann’s work typifies the progression through the introduction of computers: from print publishing to personal computers to online; and from passive education to interactive.

She collected a series of videos for her YouTube playlist which we have included on our wiki and on our YouTube channel under the HCLE Pioneers playlist. We plan to do the same for other HCLE Pioneers.

The following videos are from the Vivarium Project, an open school developed and exercised in Los Angeles in 1977. The thesis was that school should not be a teaching shop but an exploration directed by the children based on what they want to learn. Their curiosity provides their incentives, and they value the knowledge more highly because it has already delivered a benefit. The teacher becomes a facilitator rather than lecturing to everyone at once. Basic tenets were:

  1. the room should decentralized and flexible
  2. children are free to explore
  3. the room is rich in learning resources
  4. teachers work with small groups or just an individual.

Vivarium -Learning About Learning http://youtu.be/eOxH8oUo-AA

Vivarium – Example Class http://youtu.be/PlR1cg1pF8I

Vivarium – Example Learning Material https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebdVQr-lVgo
Vivarium’s work has continued, but it has been subsumed into many other things, just like many of the innovations like the mouse, graphical interfaces, and interactive media.

Additional information is available on our wiki.
Additional videos are available on our YouTube channel.

HCLE Autumn 2016 Progress Report

Welcome to the autumn quarter of 2016 HCLE report. We share many of these news items via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and collect them here for your and our convenience.

Our staff of 1.4 FTEs, volunteers and outside collaborators reached the following milestones in the winter (October through December) of 2016.

 

Catalog

  • Our cataloging process was documented to aid training and make comparisons with outside suppliers.

Collaboration

  • An initial and encouraging contact was made with Greta Nagel from the Museum of Teaching and Learning.

Outreach

  • Liza Loop addressed Jerry Herberg’s class on “Computing in the 21st Century Classroom”

Operations

  • We solicited and are reviewing bids for outside suppliers to produce our Proof of Concept.

Please pass our news along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, know-how, artifacts, stories, or connections. Even by glancing at what we’ve done, you’re helping make HCLE happen as you pass along the story. Thank you.


  • Fundraising

Following our fundraising strategy defined previously, we are preparing news releases based on the Make versus Buy process and Liza Loop’s Geekfest presentation. The releases will be used as introductions and reminders to possible funders, both individuals and organizations.

We were encouraged by the response to our submission to “A Great Tweet Will Win $10,000 Each for 10 Small Nonprofits”, an innovative funding instrument exercised by DeluxeCare. HCLE was not in their fields of study for 2016, but they encouraged us to look for 2017’s topics.

 

  • Collection

Liza Loop added items by Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz, key contributors to online conferencing starting in the 1960s.

 

  • Catalog

Our trial of various suppliers of catalog maintenance systems continues. To aid in making comparisons we documented our current cataloging process using our proprietary Catalog Maintenance System. The documentation will aid training of volunteers and staff, and provide a benchmark against other suppliers.

The Collector Systems trial has been delayed awaiting changes in their software, a migration from our original import to a more proper variation of their software, and a review of the crosswalk linking pertinent field names from the HCLE list to the Collector Systems list. In the meantime, we will continue to use our Catalog Maintenance System.

The criteria list for ranking suppliers is being reviewed in case we decide to not use Collector Systems.

In conjunction with our Proof of Concept effort, two contractors, Logikbar and Webhelper, are also tasked with estimating the effort required to provide an alternative cataloging system, whether custom-built or using something like Salesforce or Adobe Catalyst.

 

  • People/Volunteers

Our current team of volunteers and consultants continue to help with specific issues with the Catalog Maintenance System and miscellaneous system administration tasks.

We are pleased to introduce new volunteers and enthusiasts that have experience in the history of computing in learning and education.

Previously, we mentioned Chuck House and Jenny Better House. Chuck House has released a book on interviewing, which is being reviewed.

Andy Molnar may aid in promoting existing interviews, conducting a Future Flashback interview, and contributing to possible exhibits such as NSF impact and military origins of educational technology.

Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz, as well as Marie Hicks are becoming familiar with our efforts.

 

  • Outreach

Liza Loop addressed Jerry Herberg’s class on “Computing in the 21st Century Classroom. The slides are available on our blog, Are my old lessons still needed in new classrooms?

In support of our planned virtual reality exhibits, Liza Loop attended VR for Good in Esalen from October 9-14.

GeekFest Berlin 2016 made Liza Loop’s video available online and also provided a copy so we may create more succinct excerpts. The editing has begun on five topics.

  • LO*OP Center’s history
  • How LO*OP recevied Apple 1 #1
  • Distance Learning
  • Computer Literacy
  • Moving Electrons versus Moving People

We proposed a workshop for the 2017 Society of California Archivists Annual General Meeting (AGM) April 27-29 in Pasadena. The workshop will convey our experience with our Catalog Maintenance System Make Versus Buy process, and will help others modify HCLE’s process to meet their criteria and situation.

We are considering attending various events in 2017. Final decisions have not been made pending responses to various presentation proposals and funding constraints. The following are the candidates as of the end of December 2016.

 

blog posts published

 

Social Media Traffic Report

1/1/2014 12/29/2014 12/30/2015 12/31/2016
Facebook 59 91 104 171
Twitter 67 271 408 493
WordPress 18 42 49 50
Wikispaces 12 41 62 69

 

  • Wiki

The HCLE wiki continues to act as a communications center and as a digital loading dock.

We conducted a link check to eliminate or correct broken links. The exercise emphasized the value of PURLs, Permanent URLs, and regular maintenance.

 

  • Collaborations

An initial and encouraging contact was made with Greta Nagel from the Museum of Teaching and Learning. This is important and fortuitous because there are very few museums or institutions devoted to preserving the history of teaching and learning. Mutually supportive initiatives are being discussed.

Chuck House is a long term Computer History Museum trustee and founder and executive director of InnovaScapes Institute. Mutually beneficial activities are being discussed.

Kevin Savetz and Liza Loop are collecting materials from the 1999 Vintage Computer Festival.

 

  • Exhibits

The previously mentioned virtual reality project has been postponed for reasons outside HCLE control.

The oral history of David Minger, an education administrator, was captured to document some of the systemic implications of computing and automation in managing students, class, registration, and funding.

 

  • Operations

We solicited and are reviewing bids from outside suppliers to produce our Proof of Concept. A dedicated and well-funded effort may produce a demonstration site that can be used for communicating our vision and to engage collaborators, enthusiasts, and funders. At the close of the quarter, Logikbar and Webhelper were producing time and cost estimates that will be reviewed in January of 2017. The scope of work will include database improvements for our catalog maintenance system, the Proof of Concept (aka our Museum Lobby), and video editing of our 2016 presentations.

 

  • LO*OP Center

    • HCLE supported the LO*OP Center Annual meeting in December.

Are my old lessons still needed in new classrooms?

slidedeckcover20161210

Recently, a German friend asked me to speak to his class of German elementary school teachers-in-training about using computers in their classrooms. I worked with teachers extensively in the 1980s and early 90s but have been focused on history for several years. Computing has changed a lot in 3-odd decades. Are my messages still relevant?

The most obvious change in ed tech is that I didn’t have to go to Germany to be a guest speaker. We used Skype to make me a larger-than-life screen presence – a live “talking head” with slides. A more subtle issue is whether, in today’s world of smart phones, MOOCs and You-tube videos, classroom teachers face the same challenges we struggled with in the past. I anxiously prepared my visuals, hoping that my comments would resonate with a room-full of millennials.

In my next several blogs I’ll share the narrative content of this presentation as well as the visuals and perhaps expand some of the ideas. The slide deck I used is available here and I’ll select from it to illustrate the blogs. I hope you will let me know through your comments whether my thoughts are useful to you and where you think I’ve missed the boat.

Here are a few preliminary comments about the slides.

Slide 3: Let’s talk about

This is the overview of the presentation. I always like to understand the participants in a seminar so I start by exploring their thinking. The event as originally given, online and in a foreign language from the students’ point of view, did not elicit the lively discussion I had hoped for.  I would very much like to hear from you as you view this presentation asynchronously. I do not have pat answers to the questions posed and the topics are worthy of slow pondering. Take your time with them and let’s use this social media platform to share our ideas and responses.

Slides 5, 6, 7: Questions

Most of us use our own learning process as a standard to inform the way we teach. These questions are intended to help bring personal learning to a conscious level. By being aware of our own learning we can harness our self-model to benefit those of our pupils who think and learn as we do. This awareness will also free us to adapt new models to help us reach students’ whose minds follow paths different from our own.

Slides 8, 9, 10, 11: 21st Century Skills

Actually I don’t think the skills mentioned are new in any way. Humans have needed them throughout their existence. The “21st century” label is just a way to highlight how essential they are. The questions offered in this section are my suggestions for teachers to pose to their students as ways to exercise these skills.

Slides 12, 13, 14: Beyond Screens

It’s easy to view ed tech as an alternative to teachers giving lectures, but there is so much more we can do with it. This section provides some hints for activities that don’t require each pupil to have a separate screen and keyboard.

Slides 15, 16, 17: Transferring learning from games

Not all students spontaneously transfer what they learn in one context to another. These slides set the stage for discussing how teachers can use simple games (Tic Tac Toe, for example) and complex computer applications (Mindcraft) to acquire skills they can use beyond the game setting.

Slide 18: References

I’ve included links to other web sites throughout the slide deck. Don’t forget to click on them. This last slide offers several more sites I thought might enrich your teaching practice. Please let us all know which ones you found useful and add other personal favorites the rest of us may not have discovered yet.

Computing for truth and lies

Would you agree that a computer, like an empty blackboard, is a blank slate which can be used to transmit both truth and lies? The internet is not just one computer, it’s a huge amalgamation of thousands of connected computers, but one can experience the principle of  ‘garbage in-garbage out’ through learning to program a single, small, general-purpose machine. Once you have programmed a computer to repeat “The moon is made of green cheese!” to anyone who will glance at your screen you are on your way to developing immunity to the huge wave of garbage the internet exposes us to. Even more powerful is the disconnect between you who composed the message and whoever reads it. Unless you choose to disclose your authorship you can make a computer tell any lie you like and no one will be the wiser. Heady stuff for a 10-year-old learning to write her first computer code. Headier still for someone who wants to influence the US presidential election.

In a recent blog, posted on “Internet applications and technology and their LarryPressphoto.jpgimplications for individuals, organizations and society”, Larry Press notes:

Trump supporters seem to worry a lot about voter fraud. They advocate easing mechanisms for challenging a voter’s registration and encourage strict requirements for proof of identity and residence. There is more evidence of demonstrably fraudulent political information on the Internet than fraudulent voting. If their concern is genuine, they should support a real-names policy for domain registration.

It is through the ‘domain registration’ that you can find out who actually is behindICANN.png something you find on the internet. Most domain registration is handled by ICANN, a “not-for-profit corporation (the “new corporation”) managed by a globally and functionally representative Board of Directors”. Larry points out that fraudulent articles posted on the internet before the election may have misled many voters. Current international policy permits individuals to keep their domain information a secret. Just like the mischievous 10-year-old, any one can post anything anonymously. But instead of  reaching only those standing within view of your little screen these messages are delivered to billions of people across the globe.

How is this phenomenon related to HCLE? We are providing an historical backdrop for the contemporary issues and policies you and your children must deal with. What do we need to teach our children today so that they can better distinguish fact from fiction as they surf the web? What were we exposed to during our formative years that left us so vulnerable to the lies computers forward to us? Was this problem anticipated? What did the Educational Technology Pioneers think we should do about it? And what should we do about it now? If you care, read more of what Larry Press has to say.

ICANNLogo.png

Does the US Election tell us anything about Computer Literacy?

by Liza Loop

It’s strange how current events bring up old questions. Today, in the aftermath of the US Presidential election, I came across this comment:

(Source: Trump Exposes A Fatal Flaw In User-Friendly Design)

The author,  Cliff Kuang, is keying off a previous piece, Max Read’s article for New York, “Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook.” Follow these links to read their points.

My point is that there are two kinds of Computer Literacy: Technical and Social. There has always been (since the 1960s) a tension between these two.  Some argue that learning to code (write programs that control computer-based devices) and/or build/repair them will lead to modern jobs. This technical approach appeals to STEM types (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) but turns off  most of us.

The Social approach is much more important and accessible. It emphasizes understanding a) how a computer can suggest, say, a list of like-minded Facebook ‘friends’ and b) that designing computer code always requires a series of value decisions on the part of some human. Learning some very rudimentary coding gives one that heady and powerful experience of controlling the computer and makes it possible to take in these messages. But even 10-year-old can get here without a semester-long course in coding. By combining a little coding with a broad look at how computers are used across our daily life activities, the social approach to computer literacy can serve as a vaccine against the kind of group-think that has been rampant on both sides of today’s political divide.

These issues were often the subject of lively debates among the Ed Tech Pioneers we are documenting at HCLE. Some of us worried that using computing to make things smooth, easy, and automated would make it harder to uncover the algorithm, the recipe, the program that drives what the computer delivers to each one of us. These two articles suggest that we were right.

I’m not advocating that computers are evil or should not be used. Quite the contrary; they are giving an immense boost to human productivity, saving and enhancing the lives of billions of people. I am saying that their very existence necessitates more thoughtful and analytical education of today’s citizens. I am saying that to neglect Social Computer Literacy is to create a naive public whose opinions are silently manipulated (whether intentional or not) by those who design the programs.

HCLE Summer 2016 Progress Report

HCLE Summer 2016 Progress Report

 

Welcome to the summer quarter of 2016 HCLE report. We share many of these news items via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and collect them here for your and our convenience.

Our staff of 1.4 FTEs, several volunteers and many outside collaborators reached the following milestones in the winter (July through September) of 2016.

 

 

Fundraising

  • We updated our strategy to take advantage of our Oral History Workshop and our Make versus Buy process.

Catalog

  • The initial phase of our Make versus Buy process resulted in a trial of Collector Systems and a potential $300K savings.

Collaboration

  • The content of the Oral History Workshop is being edited prior to publication.

Outreach

  • Liza’s presentation at the Geekfest 2016 Berlin conference was well received.

 

Please pass our news along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, know-how, artifacts, stories, or connections. Even by glancing at what we’ve done, you’re helping make HCLE happen as you pass along the story. Thank you.


A Pioneer has passed

Seymour Papert, co-founder of the MIT Media Lab (then known as the AI Lab). Liza worked with him briefly in the 1980s and taught his childrens programming language, LOGO, in several California schools.

Although Seymour’s work is already well documented, his death highlights the urgency of our museum’s oral history work. Other prominent Pioneers are approaching the end of their lives. Many have not had a chance to provide such a complete legacy. We are working on a virtual exhibit to highlight Seymour’s numerous advances and accomplishments within the field of education and computing. His work is appreciated. His loss is felt.


 

  • Fundraising

    • Strategy

We updated our fundraising strategy to take advantage of our inaugural Oral History workshop (see below), the opportunity to refine our Cal Humanities proposal, and the preliminary results of our Make Versus Buy process (see below). In general, we intend to use feedback from our recent CalHum proposal to update our appeals. The results of the workshop are also an opportunity to demonstrate some of what we hope to preserve and accomplish. The results of the Make Versus Buy process help demonstrate one way we intend to support the creation of the museum.

After we’ve incorporated the feedback from CalHum, we intend to contact Foundations and NGOs with the news of the various updates.

If there are no direct responses, we intend to revisit the Kickstarter campaign, contact key foundation board members for advice, referrals, and hopefully resources.

We’re revisiting our list of foundations and so far have researched candidates to contact from:

      • Kresge
      • Moore
      • Broad
      • Sloan
      • Carnegie
      • Kresge
      • MacArthur

We welcome suggestions about who to contact.

In preparation for the next Kickstarter campaign that will target funding our Proof of Concept, we’ve drafted a series of interview questions from which we’ll create a video interview of Liza. A good video is highly recommended for Kickstarter campaigns, which is why we are focusing on a simple, yet hopefully effective approach.

 


  • Collection

    • social media

Our social media campaign is predominantly for advocacy, collaboration, and fund raising, but it has also been uncovering and collecting digital artifacts, online collections, and oral histories. We conducted a review of the discoveries and compiled them for eventual inclusion in our Catalog.


  • Catalog

    • Catalog Maintenance System – Make Versus Buy

We completed the main selection phase of our Make Versus Buy analysis. After reviewing approximately two dozen candidates, we decided to begin a trial of Collector Systems. Estimated savings are of ~ $300,000 and a shortening of the software timeline of approximately six months. Collector Systems was chosen because it is a cloud-based solution, with relatively low recurring and non-recurring costs, that is somewhat customizable, and that can be readily scaled as needed. The cost of the study was ~$800.

Our preliminary evaluation of the trial is inconclusive because of an interruption in communications, plus a miscommunication about the particular software package we should be using. Liza’s conversations with their CEO enabled a free extended trial until we’ve made our decision. At the close of the quarter, Collector Systems was shifting us to the software package more appropriate for museums, and using our map of the metadata crosswalk to modify their displays to match our needs. They were very receptive to suggested improvements such as including social media in the contact information. A gallery was created with relative ease, but will be probably be replaced after the account is switched to the museum system.

Concurrently, we will continue to use HCLE’s Catalog Maintenance System because it is our established process and we may need to return to it.

One consequence of our review has been an improved documentation of our current digitization, cataloging, and artifact management process. If we choose Collector Systems, we will similarly document the process.

We continue to improve our Catalog Maintenance System by fixing bugs and improving functionality.


  • People/Volunteers

    • Student Project

Liza attended the Sonoma State Internship Faire to recruit interns to work on any of eleven tasks.

Our current team of volunteers and consultants continue to help with specific issues with the Catalog Maintenance System and miscellaneous system administration tasks.

Kimberly Loop has been contracted to edit the videos from the Oral History Workshop held in June.


  • Outreach

    • Events

The primary event was Liza’s participation as a presenter at GeekFest 2016 in Berlin. It was a two day event that “brings together the founding fathers of the early personal computer era and the first Hacker scene and there will be a panel of memories from this era.” Liza was invited partly because of her involvement in the Homebrew Computer Club and the West Coast ComputerFaire. Videos of the presentations are available on YouTube.

We are also preparing a workshop for next year’s Society of California Archivists Annual General Meeting (AGM) April 27-29 in Pasadena. The workshop will convey our experience with our Catalog Maintenance System Make Versus Buy process, and will help others modify HCLE’s process to meet their critieria and situation.

1/1/2014 12/29/2014 12/30/2015 9/30/2016
Facebook 59 91 104 137
Twitter 67 271 408 469
WordPress 18 42 49 49
Wikispaces 12 41 62 68

  • wiki

    • The HCLE wiki continues to act as a communications center and as a digital loading dock. An alternative format was proposed and is undergoing outside review.

We continue to refine the videos from the Oral History Workshop that was conducted in June with Leuphana University in Luneberg, Germany. The goal is to create a series of videos, one for each presentation.

We are also in discussions about possible publications, both informal and academic, based on the event.

No decision has been reached on holding a similar event in 2017, partly because of insufficient funding.

Inspired by the event, we are considering producing a monthly series of Oral History videos and podcasts. Each video would be an interview with an HCLE Pioneer. Questions would be standardized. The interviewee would have the opportunity to present several slides, which is one of the benefits of a video rather than a podcast.


  • Exhibits

    • Thanks to some auspicious networking, we are in discussion to create a demonstration exhibit using virtual reality.

  • Operations

    • There are continuing efforts to improve our processes within CiviCRM and our gallery exhibits.

  • LO*OP Center

    • No significant support efforts were required in the quarter.

  • admin

    • A web site and domain name audit was begun to manage site and file proliferation.

 

Which comes first, the message or the audience?

Comments by Liza Loop, HCLE Founder & Executive Director

Earlier this year HCLE applied for a grant from California Humanities, a state-wide calhum_logoCouncil that gets its support from the US National Endowment for the Humanities. We didn’t get the grant. In the proposed project, entitled Hopes for a Future of Education: 5 California Ed Tech Pioneers Tell Their Stories, five pioneering California educators from the 1970s and 80s will tell us what inspired them to introduce computing into their classrooms, how it changed their teaching and how they hoped this would benefit their students. They will also share their thoughts about the status of ed tech today.

Since the deadline for another round of funding is approaching I asked CalHUM for feedback on our previous proposal. The program officer sent me the review sheet from one of the reviewers saying that the other reviewer basically agreed – their comments were more direct about the limited audience appeal demonstrated.

Why is it so hard to find participants for this conversation? I think it’s significant that there is no Museum of Learning and Education. This topic is buried so deeply in every society’s culture that, like the proverbial fish and water, it is difficult to perceive and taboo to question or change. During my 15 year association with Stanford’s Graduate School of Education I saw almost no initiatives to explore paradigm shifts in teaching or learning (although there probably were some in other departments). “Educational Reform”, a catch phrase from the period (1960-1990), meant tinkering around the edges of conventional, class-room based, teacher-centered educational practice. My hypothesis that schools and class rooms may not be the best technologies to support learning was summarily dismissed. And that was the response in a community of practice dedicated to education.

varveltrojanhorse
Source

In the larger (developed) world remarkably few people enjoy or thrive in schools but even fewer are interested in working to invent something better. Instead we continue to export this institution throughout the lesser developed world and systematically plow under all vestiges of indigenous ways of cultural transmission. In 1985, I and my colleagues in educational computing saw the personal computer as the Trojan Horse that would allow us to break down the walls of the conventional classroom and conquer the status quo. I thought the audience for this message would grow.

And the audience has grown but it has split into two very different channels. The current HCLE  crowd is  an audience of rebels. Many of them are pioneers in different aspects of the electronics industry. They are the ones who were bored in school and were also able to access external sources of teaching so that they could learn to create new devices and functions. They have become the world’s intellectual and economic elite. They understand that there is something wrong with our educational system (and by “our” I mean those of India, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and others, not just the US). Unfortunately, few of them have turned their prodigious analytical skills to the problem of building better scaffolding to support learning in the broad “normal” population of the planet. Some don’t understand that, by definition, most people have an IQ of 105 or less and do not fall in the upper reaches of the bell-shaped curve as they do. IQ was designed to predict capacity to learn and excel in school-like settings. If we are to have an “educated” world population we cannot teach only the best and brightest. We have to support prodigious learning for everybody. Computing offers a promise of delivering prerecorded, interactive teaching materials to learners around the world — all learners, not just the very bright. Some HCLE supporters are so busy succeeding in their chosen fields they don’t realize how critical our educational failure is to sustaining their way of life.

The audience in the second and larger channel is engaged in a contemporary debate about the effectiveness of electronic devices in the classroom. For the most part they are unaware that their concerns and experiences have been under discussion for over forty years so they keep repeating the same old arguments. They are willing to consider “flipping” the classroom but not eliminating it as the principle way of organizing students.

It is important for our potential funders to understand that the current size and composition of the HCLE audience is the very reason they can benefit from supporting us. The people we can reach without additional funding are those who can catch the message without extensive curation and professional-level presentation techniques. But progressive social change is not a popularity contest. It’s a search for meaning and likely to be unpopular in it’s early stages. That’s why it needs partnerships with government agencies and philanthropic organizations. If it was popular Jane or John Q. Public would just buy it and we would not be asking for support.

CIS 471: Kids are not waiting for schools to go online

uclafresmansurveyonlineeducation

Long-time ed tech journalist, Larry Press, has been monitoring how college freshmen are using online learning tools. Check out his article below.

I draw two important implications from Larry’s report:

  1. Kids who want to get into top colleges like UCLA will voluntarily seek out open educational resources without being forced to do so by teachers’ assignments. This was one of the effects that ed tech pioneers hoped for. It’s gratifying to see that we were right.
  2. Ambitious African American kids, who may well represent many populations with limited access to learning resources through their schools, are even stronger voluntary users of computer-based teaching than more privileged kids. This was another phenomenon we speculated about early on.

In the 1980s when computers were beginning to penetrate classrooms there was considerable concern that gifted and/or white kids would be steered into programming classes while minority and/or remedial students would only get to use computers for drill and practice. (See Hispanic Education and Technology, for example.) We didn’t have the internet at that time so teachers were the gatekeepers. We also didn’t have the wide cafeteria of teaching resources now accessible via the internet outside of classrooms. We predicted computing would change relationships among formal schools, teachers and learners. This UCLA study supports that idea.

Source: CIS 471: Kids are not waiting for schools to go online