Year3-Week5 & 6: There’s No Place Like Home

2018-09-10_STEAMLab wk05 google-earth_02

Year3-Week5 & 6: There’s No Place Like Home

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I came up with this idea that I wanted to work with Kindergarten & first grade using the theme of “my community,” building on what it’s like to live in North Las Vegas and a child’s almost infinite capacity to create based on the tiniest bits of lived experiences. Week 4 we used Google Earth to virtually visit their homes and I had them tell me one thing that they liked about their homes. They listed everything from dogs to their bed or having their own bedroom, to playing in their backyard. This week I showed them the home I grew up in in Southern California, then we visited some of the homes we didn’t get to visit last week and I had them tell me the one thing they’d like to have in their neighborhood. They listed everything from LEGO-land, to parks and petting zoos, to movie theaters, Olympic pool swim centers and “princess” club houses.

I was hoping that “driving around the neighborhood” virtually, and given all of the undeveloped property around the school, that we could map out the things that we would like to have in our neighborhood, things like big grocery stores or more recreation areas. But that seemed just a bit too advanced for my kindergarteners and first graders. So, for Week 6 I decided to give them the option to build their parks/theaters/rec centers using LEGO or draw something on good ol’ paper and crayons.

I looked for “coloring book” images that I might print-out as a starting point for those who chose the “drawing” option. But I didn’t find anything that I felt would work. I’m pretty sure that I’ll need something more than blank paper to help the Kindergarteners with their illustrations. Several first graders got the idea about what they were supposed to draw, but several were more “general.”

I still hope to figure out a way to “map out” North Las Vegas with some kind of simplified “map” and have my students do some “civic planning” and come up with ideas about what to do with all of the undeveloped lots in the neighborhood. I think that this is going to require many feet of white butcher paper and lots of crayons.

Year3-Week3 – Welcoming Our Robot Overlords

2018-08-27 STEAMLab_wk03 WeDo-kits

Year3-Week3 – Welcoming Our Robot Overlords

2018-08-27 STEAMLab_wk03 WeDo-kits

2018-08-27 STEAMLab_wk03 WeDo-kits

I’ve been wrestling with this problem since coming here in 2016: how to get robots into the hands of all of my students in the best way possible… And I was so excited that I didn’t take any photos/videos of the first class that began working on their LEGO WeDo robots (you know that’s excited!). Last year’s EV3 experiment was not that great because there’s not much you can get done when you only get 100-minutes with a complicated robot. Very few teams got even close to finishing their first and only robot build.

This year we’re working with a less complicated robot with better tutorials, we have 28 LEGO WeDo robots (instead of eight) to share in two classes at a time in groups of two for four 50-minute sessions. So far I’d guess that half got through the knolling (organize your parts) stage and a third finished the first build (the glowing snail) and a few built the second robot, Milo, the rover. Several teams jumped into the build before finishing the knolling process. We will see how they do as the robots get more complicated. It does take some time to organize the bag of parts. I’ll definitely have the kits pre-organized for the third and second graders and maybe for the fourth graders.

Remember when I thought that I might delay the roll-out of the other curriculum or doing a rolling launch across the grade levels? Yeah, not so much. I had kindergarten and first graders using Google Earth to “drive” around the streets of North Las Vegas, began having second and third graders test their computer keyboarding skills with Typing Bolt, and had fourth and the one non-robot fifth grade begin working with Scratch. It was a good week. It was a very good week.

I wonder what Week Four will bring?

Year Three Week Two – The Plan’s First Trial

Year Three Week Two – The Plan’s First Trial

“No plan survives contact with the enemy,” Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, German Field Marshal

I think I scared myself last week when posited the difficulty of teaching a single subject across six grade levels much less five subject areas across said six grade levels. Oops. I feel like Year One had been somewhat torpedoed because I got on campus days before my students and had to learn the new 3D-Virtual Reality computer system and my new school/school district as I was going along. Year Two, I still didn’t give myself enough time to get systems up and running before the school year began, and ran into unexpected problems getting students onto the district’s chosen LMS (learning management system), Canvas. I didn’t travel this past summer, so I was hoping to not repeat last year’s errors.

The beginning of this school year, I was much more aggressive getting student LMS accounts going, but wasn’t given access to my classes (to build the content) until two days ago. That’s a bit of a problem. No worries, week one was about classroom rules and getting students used to logging into the LMS (even if there wasn’t any content for them to use… yet). Week two I decided to have them play a quiz-game based on the rules we’d talked about last week, then practice their LMS login again. Kindergarten and first grade we did the quiz presentation-style with questions on the projector and everyone answering as a group. Then I’d have them play math games on their computers/iPads while I called them up one at a time to practice the LMS login. Second through fifth grades did the quiz as individuals at their computers/iPads. I required that third through fifth grades had to get at least eight out of ten correct or they’d have to repeat the quiz. After the quiz they ran through another LMS login practice then they’d get “free time” to play games on the computers/iPads, LEGOs or Jenga.

I was surprised that I had a lot of second graders complain that they couldn’t read, so they couldn’t do the quiz as individuals. One reason the zSpace 3D-VR curriculum didn’t really work in prior years was because the lessons were dependent on students reading prompts and pretty much all of my students were low in their reading proficiency. I assumed low reading with K & first grade, that’s why we did this activity as a whole class, but somehow that escaped me when I assumed the second graders would be able to do it individually. So, after the first second grade class complained, I made it clear that it was okay for them to work with their neighbors with difficult words and after the quiz we talked about reading strategies.

Here’s a link to the game… see how many of the answers you can guess:

Besides reading levels, there are some fundamental learning differences between early learners and later elementary learners that I wanted to explore. At the end of week one, when I was talking to one of my first grade colleagues and discovered that all science curriculum had been given to the librarian to do, we talked about social studies and the plan for primary grades and all the grade levels jumped out at me:

  • K-1: My Community – maps – community development
  • 2-3: My Business/Career – communication/storytelling
  • 4-5: My World – Programming/Robotics

One of my professors this past summer said that primary students benefit more with exploration driven learning, whereas later elementary learners (third grade and beyond) work better with more guided apprentice-type learning. This week I learned that, even if thematically second is working on the same material as third grade, I should accommodate for lower literacy levels at least for the first couple of months of second grade. I can make that adjustment. Also, I do not have to launch all of these themes across all of the grade levels on the same week, but I can stagger their roll-out so that bugs can be worked out with the more capable students first.

Week two is done. Thirty-five more to go.


Helmuth von Moltke the Elder,, retrieved 2018-08-25

Learning LEGO EV3 Robots & Kids

LEGO EV3 Gotham Noir by Joe Bustillos
2018-03-13 STEAMLab LEGO-EV3s_1

2018-03-13 STEAMLab LEGO-EV3s_1

Learning LEGO EV3 Robots & Kids

The first time you deploy anything in the classroom, much less something involving lots of small moving parts, I can guarantee that things won’t go as planned but if you planned well you’ll be able to see all the areas you need to fix/change the next time you do the lesson/unit. I’ve been waiting over a year to give my students a chance to do some hands-on learning with the EV3s, mostly fretting over how I was going to share eight LEGO robots with over 400 students spread over 21 classes and survive the experience. Today was the end of our first four-week attempt and boy did I learn a lot about what NOT to do next time (with the next group of 5th grade students beginning next week).

Number one, do not attempt to have groups bigger than pairs working on each robot. Actually, I originally thought that one couldn’t do robots with anything other than a 1:1 setup, but I learned that learning pairs was a much better ratio when I helped do Dash & Dot and M-Bot robots with Full Sail Labs before beginning my Las Vegas robotics experiments. And this past session confirmed that with groups of three (and some groups of four) there are just too many idle students with far less focus on getting the job done. I had been hoping I could spend the four fifty-minute sessions broken down to having students build the robots for the first week, learn how to program the robots the second and third sessions and have a little robot competition session/robotic olympics for week four. Of the seven teams building robots this time only one finished a basic (non-sensor) build and did one program and the other six ended at various levels of incomplete robots and almost no programming. Yeah, we’re not doing that again.

2018-03-13 STEAMLab LEGO-EV3s_2

2018-03-13 STEAMLab LEGO-EV3s_2

So the adaptation from this past four weeks, is to lower the number of group members to 1:2 (one robot per two students) in classes with 23 students. Thus I’m going to split the class in half with half of the class working two-weeks on the build/programming while the other half does online research on robots on the web & some media work on the subject. The second two-weeks I will flip students doing the hands-on robotics with the students doing online work. I’m hoping that the greater focus will allow students to get through the build and programming much quicker with less distractions from non-participants. At the same time, those working online will need to be virtually self-sufficient because I won’t be able to address their questions while working with the hands-on students.

I wish we had much more time to just explore, but sometimes more can get done when one is seriously limited. When we did robotics at Full Sail we had over 30-hours to explore, so I have to be a lot more lean and directed with the 100-minutes I have available to expose my students to robotics. Watching my students these past few weeks, I’m thinking that part of the difficulty that can be addressed is giving them experiences following build directions with other LEGO projects before attempting robotics (next year). Many got so confused when they ran into a simple SPIN direction (blue arrow) that indicated that they were supposed to turn the robot around to do the next step(s). This threw off several groups. So, more hands-on with other directed build projects should help them when they do this EV3 build. So, between now and next Wednesday I need to prep for the next group of students (disassemble robotics and make sure they have all the needed parts in their kit) and develop the media/online research component for the non-hands-on students. Nothing stress-tests any classroom unit or technology like a classroom of students. My lab hardware and I have the scars to prove it.

2018-03-13 STEAMLab LEGO-EV3s_3

2018-03-13 STEAMLab LEGO-EV3s_3

Dealing with Broken Tech-Ed Stuff (Again)

Tools to Fix Broken Audio Port
Tools to Fix Broken Audio Port

Tools to Fix Broken Audio Port

As I’ve said before, nothing tests the reliability and toughness of equipment (and people) like being subjected to the daily use by 4- to 11-year-olds. It gives new (literal) meaning to the words “wear and tear.” Thus, my hearty group of learners have vanquished with almost no effort over a dozen styluses that were designed to be used by the military. More recently they have disabled three iPads and a z-Space computer by (mostly unintentionally) breaking off the ends of the headphone plugs inside of the 1/8” audio ports. Because the end of the headphone plugs is stuck in the devices, no audio is sent to the perfectly good speakers and obviously another headphone can be connected to the blocked port.

I’ve reported this issue to IT two times this year, and both times IT simply replaced the damaged iPads with other iPads because we’re able to fix them (remove the broken bit stuck in the jack). When the third current iPad of the current batch went down I decided that I needed to do something myself. Looking online there were numerous videos on YouTube touting various solutions, most involving dabs of superglue and skinny straws.

In my Google search I saw that Fry’s had an extraction tool (for $6) that might do the trick. Yeah, no so much. The tools I bought we mostly designed for inserting and pulling plugs from serial cables, etc. and not broken audio plugs. So that one’s going back to Fry’s. I found something called the GripStick that was specifically designed to exact broken audio bits… but it was on kickstarter, so I check for a tool similar to “GripStick.” I found something called “S&G Tool Aid 18552 Deutsch Release Tool” that conditionally advertised that it was for removing broken audio bits… but this was going to be about $24. Damn. Well, I need to rescue these iPads (and zSpace computer), so I made the order. Then I thought that I should look at the price for the GripStick and ordered that one too.

We’ll see if this really fixes things by helping remove the broken audio plugs, but it feels good to do something versus filing a report and doing without. It’s always better to find a solution that keeps one in the game.


Adios AIM: Tool to Create Constructive Virtual Presence


Adios AIM: Tool to Create Constructive Virtual Presence

AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) silently ceased to exist on December 15th, and most of the tech pundits I heard appeared to either be happy to see it go or spoke of the service with low regard. I mark this passing from a different set of experiences.

When I got my Master’s degree online in 2002 and later when I worked on my doctorate in 2005, AIM was my life-blood and for at least the decade following it was how I stayed connected to my friends and classmates who were spread across the world. Long hours working on projects on my computer at any hour of any day, having an open chat window gave me a sense of presence with my friends who were also engaged in similar endeavors across the whole world. Unlike previous academic experiences, listening to hours long monologues in crowded impersonal lecture halls with virtually no connections to those around me, because of AIM & AOL chat rooms, I spent hours with my friends during our group lecture sessions, exchanging snarky comments and quips, which didn’t belong in the main session. I came to appreciate the powerful social component in a meaningful learning experience using AIM and AOL chat rooms. I even employed AOL chat rooms when we were all sitting in the same physical classroom. I first did this during my Master’s program, and the five of us who met in our own AOL chat room for our weekly full-class session bonded in a way that I have never experienced in all of my years as a student. We called ourselves the Back-row and we’ve remained good friends 15-years after our graduation. I can’t say that about the other five universities I’ve attended or graduated from.

Too often pundits demean technologies because they cannot see a rational use of said technologies. My experiences with virtual learning communities via AIM/AOL chat rooms was strong enough that when I began teaching online at the Master’s level I required that my students post their AIM handles and as part of the curriculum 30% of their grade was based on their level of interaction/posting meaningful comments on each other’s work. Others may dismiss AIM/AOL chat rooms as something that was used by teens trying to work around parents monitoring their phone use, but I used it as a tool to create and support learning communities that significantly helped my students during their Master’s degree program.

Alas, the world has gone mobile and while I can still communicate with anyone at anytime via the powerful online tools and communities that are currently available, there’s something missing now that I don’t depend on having a list of those online floating on a part of my computer screen whom I could chat with via a single click on their avatar. We have better tools that allow for full audio and video connections (remember AIM was entirely text-based and having great speed at typing was an advantage), but I rarely feel like I have my virtual pals on the ready just one click away. I guess the closest experience would be Slack. Close, but not the same.

I put “Constructive Virtual Presence” in the title because I’m aware that there’s an element of real-time “virtual presence” possible with FaceBook and FaceBook messenger, but everything else (distractions) about FaceBook makes it such a time-suck that I feel like FaceBook hinders more than helps when it comes to creating virtual connections and communities. It’s a necessary evil, but again, more of a hinderance than a help. Adios AIM, thanks for helping me experience the real power of learning with friends spread across the whole earth. Despite the dismissive comments of others, you helped change my life.


Consumer-Grade Technology Won’t Cut It In the Classroom

Nothing will shake out the bugs and defects in anything quite like exposure to the energy and intensity of elementary students. I’ve seen nicely manufactured kid-friendly robots happily fail to drive forward after only two-weeks of exposure to elementary students. And we’re not talking about driving them off tables or running them into walls or any other forms of robot/technology abuse. Just the normal-but-intense usage by seven- to 12-year-olds during 40-hour a week summer camp sessions will show the weakness or flaws of any technology (or plan).

Broken Stylus Wire

Broken Stylus Wire

Currently my latest frustration is realizing that computer/technology equipment that was designed to work with either the military or university students doesn’t stand a chance when faced with a room full of 5-year-olds. Within less than a week my students had exposed a fatal flaw that would cripple every expensive 3D-augmented-reality-Windows PC. The styluses, necessary to run the 3D software, were vulnerable to eager 5-year-olds playing tug-a-way with said styluses. The wires, the wires were not designed to withstand 5-years tugging at them. So, if the wires attaching the styluses break, no 3D-augmented-reality functions and we’re left with very expensive PCs with no 3D interface. And no matter how much I might pre-test the machines before the school day begins, several students will complain when things are most hectic that “my computer isn’t working” and I have to troubleshoot on the spot, running through the list of possible problems, one that might be the stylus-wire has died a tog-of-war death. It can get to the point where I question the wisdom at creating curriculum that is dependent on the styluses to perform without failure.

Ever the one to work on the bleeding edge, I completely understand why teachers choose against using technology in their instruction. Sometimes it’s just not worth it to go the extra mile when three out of eleven computers don’t perform per plan. This is why NASA does everything with at least triple redundancy, anything goes wrong and people die. Mine isn’t nearly that dramatic, but when I’m really pushing the students to engage with learning material that isn’t easy, I do not need the technology to add another layer of difficulty by being unreliable or faulty. The 3D-AR PC vendor is great and more than ready to replace any stylus in the midst of death-throes. It’s just exhausting to work around these design flaws that always present themselves at the worst possible moments. That’s also probably why military expenditures are so costly, no one wants things breaking down at the worse possible moment (though I’m sure many a soldier quickly learned to work around faulty equipment when under fire!).

So, you want to see if there’s anything wrong with your design or technology? Just one day with my students will expose the weaknesses and faulty-thinking. We should really offer this as a service. I have my doubts whether many “innovative” tech companies have the balls to accept my challenge. It could be interesting (and more than a little frustrating for all parties).

Portfolio v Posts v Pages in WordPress

2015-08-13_academic-portfolio-mindmap 2015-08-13_academic-portfolio-mindmap

Remember what I said the other day about not having the time or energy to be working on my blog? Yeah, I lied. Having scanned in over 30-years of papers, projects and school notes and over 50-years of photos, I’m attempting to be a lot more systematic on how things get posted/shared. After looking over dozens of themes, I thought that I might pull out the old white board and try to wrap my head around what I’m trying to accomplish. With the academic material, I kind of wish that I would be able to create a starting page with the universities/degree programs I’ve participated in, than have that branch off to a page listing the courses that I took for each degree, than have each course branch off to info on the course (date, title, instructor, syllabus) and break that down to the projects and papers that I produced.

During my studies I went through several versions of this idea with my MA work at Pepperdine, which fit, given that we turned in and worked entirely online. Then, when I was putting my resume together, I revisited the idea of posting my work online and decided to create a separate blog just for the MA work using the Imbalance 2 theme (Click here to see the blog). I chose this theme primarily because it surfaced all of the work in a scrolling multi-column view.

2015-08-13_pepOMAET-blog 2015-08-13_pepOMAET-blog

On the plus side all of the work is there. But, except for it’s chronological order, there’s no apparent organization or flow and thus it comes off as too much to absorb (TLDR). And this was for a one year course of study, it’s unlikely that using this same approach with my four-year degree programs would come off well. The point is to surface the work without overwhelming the viewer. I wish there was a theme that worked like a branching mind-map…



Education in the Age of the Technologist

This video presentation was originally given at Bar Camp Orlando 2015 on April 18, 2015. Why do some technology solutions seem to work in education while others don’t? Where are MOOCs missing the mark?

Education in the Age of the Technologist
by Joe Bustillos

Written, Presented & Edited by Joe Bustillos
“NASDAQ” from Smartsound Music (
Young Girl at School Holding a Computer Mouse — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Bored Kid,
Mrs. Wormwood,
France in the Year 2000, Imagined by Illustrators in 1900,
edX (screen grab), (screen grab),
Kahn Academy (screen grab),
Long Beach desktop panorama © 2007 by joe bustillos
Synch-Session Run Thru with Henry Price © 2001 by Joe Bustillos, 08-15-2001
Lev Vygotsky,
Frank Smith,
Etienne Wenger,
CSCL – OMAET Conference OMAET Saturday-200 © 2002 by Joe Bustillos, 01-12-2002
Computer Lab Joe © 2002 by Joe Bustillos, 06-04-2002
Wall of Screens Lifestyle © 2012 by Joe Bustillos 02-09-2012
Little Boy Playing with Cell Phone in Class — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis,|mt:2|



  • (Slide 1)
  • Hi, my name is Joe Bustillos,
  • This video is based on a presentation that I shared at BarCamp Orlando 2015, which is fitting because some of the inspiration for this presentation came from talks with folks connected to Code School, one of the local start-ups interested in teaching coding the best ways possible.
  • So, Education in the Age of the Technologist, and when I’m referring to education I’m referring mostly to K-12 Public ed, but my observations apply across the board, public or private, K-12 and higher-ed
  • (Slide 2)
  • The consensus is pretty much universal when we look at the state of education today: it’s broke.
  • I love this kid, I was this kid and when I was a classroom instructor I remembered what it was like to be this kid and tried to work with my students so that we could all avoid this state of boredom in the classroom
  • Let’s face it, Education, as it’s practiced today, is a vestigial institution that’s completely out of sync with how the world actually works
  • So, what do we do to fix this?
  • (Slide 3)
  • Thing is, public education is a bit like puberty, a coming of age thing that everyone had to go through & most weren’t entirely pleased with the process or end results.
  • So everyone has an opinion about what to do based on their own experiences…
  • And when we think about it, many seem to come to the conclusion, though they might not say it out right, that what we need to do is:
  • Get the human out of the loop
    • Reflecting back on the typical classroom experiences one tends to hear:
    • “I didn’t learn anything”
    • “I hate waiting for others”
    • “The teacher never gave me the help I needed”
  • Thus, many have concluded that we could fix a lot of problems if we could just Get the human out of the loop
  • Education, instead of being stuck in the past, could be something where every individual learner would get the support and attention that fits their learning style.
  • This is a dream that’s been thought about for a very long time…
  • (Slide 4)
  • This is a somewhat famous illustration that was published over a hundred years ago, thinking about what the classroom would be like in the year 2000!
  • Automate Education
    • Wouldn’t that be perfect?
      • No more waiting for the slowest person in the classroom
      • Assignments tailored to the needs of the learner,
      • Meaningful grading/assessments designed to help further the learning
      • And no waiting for a damn teacher to get back to you on how you did on that last assignment.
  • It’d be like the perfect video game:
    • Easy to get started, you have a good idea what the objective is
    • Anything you do has a direct connection to your status in the game:
      • If you get things done without errors you move forward
      • If you make a mistake, you wake up in the graveyard and get a chance to learn from your mistake, until you master the level
    • Everything you learn contributes to your chances of success moving forward
  • Automate Education
  • (Slide 5)
  • We actually kind of have that available today with things like Kahn Academy, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) like EdX or Coursera, and Orlando’s own “Code School.”
  • So, how is this working out? What’s the data?
  • (Slide 6)
  • Video tutorial courses, like Kahn Academy or appear to be very viable (especially when you consider that was just bought by LinkedIn for a reported $1.5 billion).
  • MOOCs appears to be a different story – Though one should approach assessing the effectiveness of MOOCs cautiously because they haven’t been around for very long and the definitions for “success” aren’t entirely clear
  • That said, let’s look at one example of one of MOOCs problems: student completion rate (how many students register verses the number that participates in the class versus the number that successfully completes the course): Duke University course called “Bioelectricity” (Fall 2012):
    • 12,725 students enrolled
    • 7,761 watching a video
    • 3,658 attempted to complete a quiz
    • 345 did the final exam
    • only 313 passed the final exam and got their certificate for the course (Catropa 2013, Jordan 2013).

    • Even after you factor in the difference in engagement one might expect with courses that are free versus when one is paying high tuition… it does seem like something is clearly not working. And we’re talking about making high quality education available to anyone with an Internet connection. This is especially concerning when considering how many institutions (higher ed and K-12) are investigating the possibility of going online and using MOOCs as a model to follow.

  • (Slide 7)
  • My Own Online Experiences (both doctoral studies and MA & teaching in undergrad and grad university program) didn’t suffer from the same level of attrition reported by many MOOCs
    • Again, there’s a big difference in commitment and engagement when comparing programs with huge tuitions versus free course,
    • But there’s an even more fundamental difference…
  • (Slide 8)
  • Let me introduce you to Three Scholars who contributed to our understanding of the learning process that has direct bearing on why some programs seem to work better than others.
    • Etienne Wenger
      • Originally interested in computer science and got his PhD in artificial intelligence
      • But the initial research that pertains to our question, was research he did with Jean Lave, studying the learning practices and the learning processes used by apprentices to African tailors.
        • And what he uncovered was that learning was more than the acquisition of the basic skills or knowledge needed to be a competent tailor. Yes, one needed these skills and knowledge, but there was also a sociological transformation that the learner underwent when going from being someone literally outside of the tailor shop, to being an apprentice to being a competent practitioner to maybe becoming a master of the trade.
        • The success of the apprentices seem to involve much more interaction amongst the apprentices than direction/contact with the master tailor
        • The group of apprentices and the group of the master tailors need to welcome and recognize the learner as being part of the community for the learner to progress successfully
    • Lev Vygotsky
      • Soviet psychologist (1896–1934), his research centered on the role of the instructor resulting in something called ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development), which later researchers used to formulate something called Instructional Scaffolding
      • The idea is that we learn when we connect the new information/data/skill with previous understanding or skills
      • The learning is most powerful/effective when it’s based on previous understanding & experiences.
      • The role of the instructor according to Vygotsky is to guide the learner, to bring them from where they are to where they need to be.
    • Frank Smith
      • Wrote a book called The Book of Learning and Forgetting,
      • He wrote that there’s a dichotomy between what he called the “Official Theory of Learning” and what he called the “Classical view.”
        • The Official Theory is based on early Ed psychologists’ theory that we cannot tell if we’re being effective in our instruction unless we strip out all prior knowledge and see if students retain information when later tested. This philosophy was modeled after successes that were noted in how the Prussian Military trained their soldiers and later when the US Military in World War II needed to train massive numbers of soldiers in a way that was almost 100% consistent across several theaters of war. Rote memorization and constant drilling was the center of the Official Theory.
        • The problem with the Official Theory as it’s become translated into practice is that it’s reduced to studying for an exam, taking the exam and then forgetting everything after the exam. There’s no continued development and there’s no real building on prior knowledge or experience. It’s not connected to any prior learning and devoid of any sociological aspects of learning
        • The Classical View begins with the idea that we learn from those around us with whom we identify with. And then we do what they do until we’re proficient. The African tailors, the kids mastering MMORPGs, rookie technicians working for the phone company… we’re motivated to learn and over time we learn. Surprise, it’s a sociological process that couples doing with being identified with other doers.
  • (Slide 9)
  • So, why does seem to work while MOOCs are struggling:
    • First, what’s the learning objective, what are you trying to accomplish?
      • There’s a huge difference between trying to learn a single thing, like the Basics of using iBooks Author versus much larger learning goal, like becoming an online publishing expert or earning a college degree
    • The kind of instruction offered by well-produced video tutorials is sufficient for the task, but something that’s going to take longer to accomplish is going to require more than nice videos.
  • (Slide 10)
  • What did we learn from the three scholars:
    • Wenger said we learn best in groups
    • Vygotsky identified the best role of the instructor as being the bridge connecting the learner in a way works for the learner
    • Frank Smith wrote that we learn when we’re motivated by those we want to be like.
  • (Slide 11)
  • When I did my masters and doctorate online, we were studying educational technology so we naturally used technology, like IM and group chat, to make stronger connections with one another, beyond what was required. This was almost 15-years ago so our online class sessions were entirely text based, with all interaction flowing across the screen. Several of us added secondary chat rooms where only a few of us hung out during the class session and it had the effect of giving us a sense of feeling like we were all together in the same room and those of us in the secondary chat room were like the kids whispering in the back of the room.
  • There was also powerful aspect to having one’s study buddies always available for assistance or camaraderie via always-on IM sessions – it made learning ubiquitous. I wasn’t waiting for the weekly class sessions or assignments to interact with my friends, and with the interaction came more learning.
  • (Slide 12)
  • In a way, we actually put more humans into the loop, but in a way that worked and didn’t slow us or waste our time.
  • (Slide 13)
  • What we have to do is to recognize that we cannot use a technological solution on a problem that is essentially a sociological problem.
  • Just like everyone one having Word Processing applications didn’t make everyone into a writer, throwing technology at this problem won’t accomplish what we’re hoping for
  • (Slide 14)
  • The Challenge is how do we keep the things that work well with technology, self-paced instruction with instantaneous assessment, but also works with the social part of learning and being part of a learning community. What I love is that the introduction of technology is causing us or allowing us to really look at what works and how different methods work across different populations. We have a real opportunity to reimagine learning.
  • (Slide 15)
  • I’m Joe Bustillos, thank you for watching “Education in the Age of the Technologist”
  • My contact information is listed below and I will have links to my resources also listed below. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions in the discussion area.