Education posts

Lynda.com Training Again

Since I am not in school or working at the moment, I think I am going to learn some more using Lynda.com, with a normal subscription this time. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some skills that will help me get a job, or maybe help make me more attractive for freelance work.

Lynda isn’t as much into development as design courses, but they do have some that’ll help me. I plan to learn Drupal, Joomla, and ASP.NET, which are popular items in the job postings I find. I could learn some of this without paying any money, but Lynda I can just sit and go through without searching and reading random articles or reading large books, and I can still do those as well if the Lynda course isn’t giving me enough.

I considered picking up a class or two at Tri C. However, one class would cost more than a year of Lynda, and the classes are on a rigid time schedule, not at my own pace where I can start and stop as I please. The classes I wanted are all online there anyway, so I wouldn’t get the classroom benefit.

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Teacher spot reports for knowledge check

School administration would on occasion randomly choose some teachers to write a report. The report would be either a short (1-2 page) paper that must be written on the spot with little or no resources, or a longer (perhaps 10 pages) research paper which they will have a specified period to complete and can use any resources they want.

The topic of the paper would be randomly assigned, asking how they apply or could use certain educational principles in the classroom. Some possible topics might include how the teacher uses or could use Piaget’s or Vygotsky’s theories, positive reinforcement, levels-of-processing theory; how do they handle the different learning styles of students; what implications a recent educational news story might have for them; how do they apply technology in the classroom; or a more general question like how new educational theories have shaped their teaching styles.

The check would help ensure that teachers are paying attention to and using both well established and new educational theories to hopefully provide the best education they can to their children. Educational theories often are adopted slowly or aren’t translated well into teaching styles. There is a whole lot that can be done to improve the education system just by fully implementing the recommendations of the vast available knowledge pool of educational learning theory.

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Education done like work flex-time

*** reasons
scheduling classs around work, home, and other parts of life can be very difficult
especially when a rigid schedule week after week is required and
required classes frequently have few available scheduling options
long, fixed terms mean students must plan in advance and be scheduled for months

*** possible implementation characteristics
* semesters
no more fixed semesters or similar fixed periods
students attend lectures, office hours, etc. whenever they want
each lecture, etc is offered at one of many pre-scheduled times
students can pick and choose which time they want to go
times and frequency chosen based on previous demand
student must attend a certain set of lectures, plus perhaps some from an optional collection
can take as long as they want to complete a course
take tests/evaluations/projects when they feel they are ready
tests given in a testing center where they can be taken any time
monitored, students from many classes take tests at once
much harder than current tests to give flexibility in determining competency
getting 50% of the questions right probably good target normal grade
one on one type evaluations scheduled with prof for most convenient time
at least as important as tests
profs spend time with student determining their capabilities
projects are like homework, but larger and with a more defined purpose
projects last a certain duration, must be finished by a due date
some longer and bigger, some short and small
groups projects will require students signing up, running once a quota is reached
competencies rather than grades
not fixed
students can keep going until they achieve desired/required level of competency
profs decide competency based on tests, projects, evaluations, time spent with in class and office-hours
many profs involved, whole department perhaps
no homework per se normally
in class, supervised work only most of the time
perhaps some courses will have some continuity between some lectures with coursework given between
required to be taken in a certain order
should be rare
projects will be the majority of work done outside of class
Office-hours/tutoring
Some students obtain and undertand information in certain classes very easily while other students need a lot of help.
Part of profs time will be spent in an office hours / tutoring like teaching methodology where students are encouraged to seek assistance from the profs
in a larger capacity setting than an office.
An entire class should be able to show up and be handled in this setting.
Possible student activities would be private study with occasional questions to prof or longer discussions with prof about certain points.

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Schooling: focus on life

Schools are very focused on ‘academic’ stuff; they need to give better focus to things important to people, things to help them get jobs and to live their lives. If given an easy path into the job they want, many people will take it. The easier that path is, the better. Many things are expected to be taught at home, but they aren’t always, and most people will be missing bits and pieces of it even if parents and family do teach it.

Finance
People are finding themselves in financial strife very often these days, especially the people currently entering the work force. They are using credit cards and going into debt so much that some call them Generation Debt (or something like that). Schools provide little to no information about how to handle personal finances to the vast majority of students. The basics of finance could be taught in a very short time, yet have a huge impact on students understanding of handling their money. Much of it is fairly simple stuff, but it isn’t always easy to figure out on your own when you have so much else to worry about. Discussions should be had about debt, how to manage it, when to use it; how to save money for expensive things, childrens education, retirement; budgeting and deciding what is important; banks and stock brokers and how those work relative to a student using them; bill paying. Students should learn how to balance a checkbook.

Homestead
Home economics classes briefly go into some of the things a person needs to know about running a home, seeming to focus though on sewing and cooking. There is a lot involved in running a home. There should be at least discussion of all that is done to run a typical home. They should learn how to budget their time, in the more and more hectic lifestyles they will likely be living, to be able to handle cleaning and making food.

Nutrition and Lifestyle
The United States is having somewhat of a crisis with health problems, particularly ones related to high fat, high sugar diets and sedentary lifestyles. Students should be taught basic nutrition, how certain foods can reduce their risk of certain diseases, and how to create meals that are both healthy and taste good. They should go through physical education courses, as they already do, and taught how excercise can reduce risk of disease and increase the duration of the livable portion of their life. They should be taught how and where to excercise after they leave school in ways that might suit them best: they might prefer workouts at gyms, organized sports organizations, walking at work, jogging in the mornings, etc. They should be taught how gyms and sports organizations work and can be found.

Sex and children
Sex needs to be better taught about; it is covered only briefly and somewhat danced about currently. Students should see how it works, learn (directly) how to put condoms on, learn how to time a womans ovulation to know when she can and cannot get pregnant, learn about the diseases. They should learn about the signs of a woman becoming pregnant, about what needs to be done if she becomes pregnant as far as nutrition for her and what should be done with her doctor, and how to prepare for having the childe. Basic parenting skill should be taught.

Health and Biology
Students should learn how their bodies work and how to deal with them. Human biology is a lot more important in everyday life to most than more general biology. Basic first aid is important. Students should also learn how the health care system works and about health insurance.

Job finding skills
Anybody should be able to find and land a job they want and enjoy. They can, but they need to know how. They need to learn both how to figure out what that job might be for them and how to obtain it. They should be given a brief description of ‘all’ general job fields and interests they relate to, and slowly from an early age be directed towards the ones that best match their personal interests, capabilities, and desires. They should be taught the best ways to find jobs in their areas of interest.

Psychology
Everyone should learn the basics of how their mind works and how people work (behaviorly/interacting with each other).

In Sum
I think schools should focus first on job hunting skills, nutrition, lifestyle, finance, health and biology, psychology, social skills, and managing a home. These are the things that most everyone will make use of in their lives, and would benefit from having a lot of knowledge in. I also feel some history to be very important, so people know how they came to be as they are; and some basic physical sciences, so people will know how the world works. Many of the more ‘academic’ subjects are used very little by most people after they finish school, and so are less useful. Schools should ensure that the above things are learned by everybody. They should not need to waste time with tests over these subjects; rather, they should slowly drill the information in over their entire school career.

The schools should follow students interests and very early on start to send students on paths towards the careers they like. The students interested in science would begin learning more about science, while students interested in art would be given more teaching about art. They would need to be followed closely and always taught their interests; they must never be trapped in one path, even if they keep changing paths and only learn a little from each. If their interests are broad, then they will best be served with knowledge that is broad. Individual schools might need to be more narrowly focused to better teach the areas of knowledge, so students might have to go to different schools based on the path they choose. They should be able to take students farther along in the path they choose, as the teachers in those areas would only be teaching students with interest in them.

And so schools should be there to prepare students for life and career.

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schooling: variable length course duration

timeless schooling
a person takes a class to learn a certain set of tasks or pile of knowledge. they want this whether they find it to come easy or hard. It is the teachers charge to teach it to all of them. For this reason, a course should not have a defined length, but instead be the length for each student that it takes that student to learn the knowledge. People to whom it comes easily can finish the course quickly and move on to the next, while people to whom it comes hard might take quite some time completing it. No grades shall be given: the person takes the course until up to the proficiency standards the course requires, or fails and gives up. Completing a course should suggest the student has learned certain things, not pushed through it and been given a letter representing their success at learning those things.

Cost – as teacher time is a costly resource, and students in this system could make a lot of use of it, the payments for the course would have to be based on time taking it. Students already proficient in the course matter, thus those who don’t really need the course anyway, could breeze through and pay little. Students who need the most help would have to pay for it.

Handling Different Paces – obviously handling multiple students running at different paces as well as coming in and going from the classes at random times would cause a significant challenge to some teaching methods, while others, particularly the sorts that are currently more independent as is, would lend themselves well to this method.
– Lectures certainly wouldn’t work if every student was at a different point in learning the material. So, I think, lectures would probably be given as learning material for courses but would not be specifically part of them. Each lecture would be a single event given on a specific subject, and students would come to whichever lectures they desire based on the content and where they are in their learning. A course geared heavily toward lecture might require certain lectures to be attended at least once (more times for students who do not get what they need to out of it), while others (probably more than not) would only have lectures available to aid in, or perhaps further, or even differentiate, the learning in the courses, for those who desire those sort of things. These one-off lectures would have the very nice side benefit of allowing students not in these course but interested in the subject to take in the bits of it they are most interested in, and perhaps incite them to take the related course at a later time. It also would provide fine learning opportunities for folks who want to learn something but not become full-fledged students.
– Labs should work out well. Teachers would give each student, or group of students if necessary, their labwork assignments based on their current development in the class and what they think will most help the specific students learn the course material. Then they will watch the students and help whenever it is needed, or give helpful or insightful pointers when needed. This will give the teachers a lot of flexibility in tailoring their assignments to the students. It will likely require relatively small lab sizes, or/and probably more preferably, several teachers per class to be able to watch sufficiently the students activities. More teachers may work better than smaller individual class sizes, as the greater number of eyes simultaneously sweeping the room, as well as the differing perspectives, should see more even with a large class size.

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Education

My response to a survey asking how my education could have been better

would have worked better to have:

occupation training in more of a working business environment, with no classes per-se, learning specific areas of the business as progress through one large ‘class’. the business would have all students from a given field as first observers learning from instructors, then workers still being given instruction, the more senior of who would take part in training the new ones. The business would pay students once they begin work, as well as provide the program with income. Students could elect to focus on certain areas of the business, which instructors would then concentrate on.

less concentration on memorization and much more concentration on use

less concentration on getting good grades on assignments/exams and more on learning the material – a student could learn to the same level as another, but reach that point more slowly and thus perform more poorly early on in the class and thus get worse grades though they come out with the same level of knowledge

better connection between classes in a series

many more short classes on a wide variety of topics, that would allow students to take many of these classes at once, and thus learn many more subject areas. work load would be minimal, the classes would merely provide an introduction (the basics) of the topic. I had wanted to take a lot of classes when I had looked at the course book, but was unable to because of time restrictions and especially prerequisites.

more flexibility of course hours, able to spend proper amount of time to learn current material, including both length of time spent in classroom in a day and number of weeks attending the class

ability to learn desired amount of a given subject, by either offering more and less involved versions of classes, or by allowing students in the same class to choose their desired work loads/learning amounts (with several broad categories), or by having many short (perhaps even only one visit long) classes in a series that a student could attend until they feel like they’ve had enough

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