Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Time Independent Education!!

I am way behind on my Coding Together iOS programming class! Close to three weeks behind. However, that's acceptable. It is acceptable because there is no grade for me when I finish, there is no tuition bill or next semester I need this prerequisite for. For the first time I can remember, there is no deadline for me to learn the material. There is no penalty for not learning the material by a certain time.

This is revolutionary. I'm serious. Kids sit through class for years learning the same material as a whole bunch of other kids because a teacher doesn't have the time to have 25 students all on a different page of the text book. Every so often a kid skips a grade or gets held back to repeat the lessons again. However, perhaps instead of maintaining a constant rate of learning, or a generally constant rate of learning because not all classes progress at the same rate, the rate of learning would depend on the student.

For example, given about four (12 hour) days if I were to just work on my iOS class I could complete the whole thing, except for the final project. However given the plethora of other things that I do with my time it will end up taking me three months or more. That is fine because the end result is nearly the same.

Extrapolate that to a high school trigonometry class. Perhaps there is a series of lectures, better yet interactive lectures, out there that could be used as material for the class. Students could progress with the lessons and assignments at their own rate and the teacher would be able to help students one or two or three at a time as each one needed help. Obviously there would be some bar, some set of minimum requirements, that grades would be based on. However, it allows students to go ahead if they had the time and motivation. Looking back the computer science classes I had and CAD (computer aided drawing) classes I had followed this kind of format. After a short lecture there would be an exercise to work through and some students would finish it before class was over, others would have to work on it after hours as homework. That is still like the tip of the iceberg. It allows the students to progress at their own rate, but every class like that I have had had limits on the material. It's like a text book with 300 pages that takes a year to get through. Well, some students could go through 500 pages in a year. Plus, different students are good at different subjects. If a student gets bored, even for a little bit, the chances of losing the interest of that person for more education grow.

This is on my mind because of the class I am taking, as well as the upcoming McGraw-Hill Education spinoff. As it turns off McGraw-Hill has a large office in Dubuque by the Mississippi as well as a printing operation on the west side of town. I feel that we are in the midst of an education revolution. I don't where where we will end up or if it will be better than what we have now. I don't know how long it will take or if we will go kicking and screaming or running and jumping. I do think that it will mean customized instruction for each student or at least for many different types of students. Kind of like the Star Wars clone army or Star Trek Vulcans. Education will no longer be primarily pages of written text (I'm predicting the death of my blog I suppose) but interactive experiments, even if they are mostly digital.

The Internet has changed things. It may have taken 25 years for us to have an idea of how to use it, but the sharing of information and the connecting of people sharing that information seems to be a major theme. Especially now that we have all of this information accessible from our phones and we have applications that we can touch that react to our actions.

These thoughts have been brewing in me for some time. I feel it is all about the next generation. That's part of the reason I coach. That's why I worked four summers at Boy Scout camp. I want to tell others about the great things I have discovered. So I plan to do more education on my blog going forward. The plantar fasciitis and shins splints thing is an example of what I have to share. It's not perfect. I would only call it semiprofessional, but it is a little more information that others can use to improve the world.


  1. No matter how you phrase it ... it's still NOT acceptable.

  2. Or maybe I should say, "No matter your rationale, it's still NOT acceptable."


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