Saturday, March 9, 2013

braindump, education (online, and IRL elementary school)

what are engineer (the design process is being taught in weston field elementary)

education designathon is tomorrow
woodie flowers will be speaking there! i still have like a hero worship thing going on from my FIRST robotics days.

once i dreamed of talking to woodie flowers about education and such
then i failed to grad school, or at least my super-specific version of grad school ^^; (MIT 2.007x)... eheh strategic failure
maybe it's for the best, because i'm super excited for the future now! as opposed to stressed o__o
or maybe that is the soda talking
i wish them all the best, i hope it doesn't turn out to be a lot of talk and indecision and less doing

anyway
oh also as i mentioned i am co-teaching lessons in a 4th grade science classroom
the teachers are super nice for letting us do this x.x
also learning a lot about pedagogy
the difference between doing a demonstration (e.g. a chemical reaction) and asking students to predict what will happen and then letting them do it (mystery novel! there's suspense!)

1) hands-on online blah mouthtwister thing
to make this happen logistically:

  • live dirt-cheap (pika... ~$1.5k for three months. oh man, i can go there and eat all the portobello mushrooms! okay to be fair i just want to live at MITERS all the time but maybe that is okay, also there is a waitlist so if i don't get in then my living costs go way up, oh dear)
  • affiliate self with shop: done (TAing job, again where being female was a plus... mixed feelings, but it should be super fun!)
  • earn money (contract work? essess.com, other places)
  • convince friend to come work on this near full-time with me, work out logistics (in progress)
    it's a childhood friend who is a senior at cornell (she's doing a M'Eng - PhD thing, so I only have her for the summer :3), and does meche and ee and bio things, i am super excited!
    plot twist: she is also super-awesome at piano and improv, which means by summer's end i should be one step closer to my goal of being a hobo playing piano in bars in europe
  • feed ourselves during the summer (http://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/fsa accelerator program? only pays MIT students) 
  • ? get the word out (http://info.p2pu.org/projects/propose/ peer-to-peer university)
technically:
pedagogically:
  • read read read. 
  • http://learn.media.mit.edu/about.html
    One of the big challenges of online learning is to scale the expert. In the studio model of learning, which is pretty much how things work at the Media Lab, more experienced students and faculty will review and critique your work. That is hard to move online. But we'll try. As part of the course, we will organize a studio review session in which Mitch and Natalie will invite some of the online students to present and discuss their work and give them feedback.
  • ... we didn’t build a shiny new platform. Our platform is the web and we like things distributed and open. We also wanted to create a model that is easy to replicate for anyone. We use off-the-shelf Google+ tools, like Hangouts and Google+ communities; and open source software like the Mechanical MOOC (github). You have no excuse not to build a course like this yourself!
reading:
Although initiatives by MIT, Harvard and other leading universities such as Coursera, Edx, Udacity are generating a lot of of buzz, I strongly believe it will be startups led by young students themselves rather than old brick-and-mortar colleges and universities that will be responsible for changing the way students learn.
From my own observation, universities running these programs are fundamentally limited, because their first priority must always be to the real-life students they are serving, and more often than you might think there are staffing issues in answering real-life students' questions, let alone the questions of a gazillion people of varying backgrounds online. responsiveness -- i don't see that happening in a top-down fashion. perhaps as universities change? how do you motivate students to help other students? a stack-exchange-esque platform?

This is what I think: People are taking these courses because for many it is the only way to learn about interesting topics like robotics or machine learning. Take a video of a Stanford professor talking about a hot topic and people will eat that up. That does not necessarily mean that we have unlocked the power of online education. I also doubt it will give any value to a Stanford student who can sit in the real classroom.
2) elementary school projects
Wah! I get to teach this term as part of D-Lab Education at Weston Field School, which has a long history of working with the Kasiisi project / partnering with schools Kibale National Park in rural western Uganda. Thus, I've been doing a lot of research into hands-on projects for kids, which is more fun than I thought it would be. 
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Holy hexapods, there was a sxsw conference about education:
That was this week. A ton of interest in hands-on learning on the schedule there. XD; SUCH A FAD. Well, looks like I need to wait a few days for the videos to be up.

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oh, and briefly, i'm making a writeup on rapid-prototyping tools, so for my reference: