Archive for the 'Reflection' Category

My ASU Graduate Experience

June 7, 2011

Nearly two years ago I received an email advertising a quality graduate program in curriculum and instruction at an unbelievable price.  I spoke with an outsourced recruiter who promised me the world if I would start “today.”  She encouraged me to pay all the costs up front to ensure that tuition increases would not apply to me.  I was deeply concerned with the legitimacy of the program and how I would be perceived as a graduate of such an outfit.  “Nowhere on your transcript will it say that your program was all online,” she reassured me.  I was not reassured…

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Social Networking for Professional Educators

November 12, 2010

Looking over the 2010 update to the National Educational Technology Plan, I’m excited to see that the authors recognize and promote the value of social networking technologies in education. The community of teachers and learners that I connect with through sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In is in the thousands. The value that instant access to these folks brings is incalculable.

One of the recommendations is that professional educators

Leverage social networking technologies and platforms to create communities of
practice that provide career-long personal learning opportunities for educators within and across schools, preservice preparation and in-service educational institutions, and professional organizations.

The report goes on…

Social networks can be used to provide educators with career-long personal learning tools and resources that make professional learning timely and relevant as well as an ongoing activity that continually improves practice and evolves their skills over time. Online communities should enable educators to take online courses, tap into experts and best practices for just-in-time problem solving, and provide platforms and tools for educators to design and develop resources with and for their colleagues.

Unfortunately, my current institution is blind to the value that comes from access to such resources. Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and many other sites are blocked for employees on some network segments. Where we can reach these resources, we have been warned very sternly not to. Consider this message from my institution’s president about sites such as Facebook:

Beginning tomorrow, we are asking our IT Department to give us lists of all [college] employees who are on these and other social networks. In turn, we will contact those employees and require that they submit to their supervisors and then to their up line vice president a written justification for this use and a detailed business purpose for it. Then, by reference to this memo, we are requesting that our IT department conduct random checks each week of employees logged into social network sites and these employees will be contacted and required to submit to their supervisors and then to their up line vice president a written justification for this use and a detailed business purpose for it. Most use of social networks by employees cannot be justified by a business purpose and is classified as personal use which is prohibited.

How do your schools treat social media? What approaches have you used to soften the stance of an otherwise progressive administration on this issue? Is this a battle worth fighting?

I’d better sign off before the Gestapo find out that I’ve been blogging… If you wish to reach me at work, I’d recommend sending a fax.

PS:  This blog post came out after I wrote this entry.  It’s a perfect example of how professional educators are using social media.  Give it a read.

EMBHSSC, HSRP, LMNOP

August 6, 2010

Summer is coming to an end.  Much of mine was spent working with summer programs at The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s (UALR) College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT).  This time of year is also known as Attack of the Unpronounceable Acronyms!


EMBHSSC
The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp is a two-week, academic, residential camp that emphasizes increasing students’ mathematics and science skills while introducing them to college life and stimulating their interest in science and engineering as a potential career path. Each day, campers attended classes that included problem solving, research and communication skills incorporated with biology, chemistry, physics, environmental sciences, earth sciences, technology, engineering and design concepts, and field excursions.

An interdisciplinary experience that we created this year that I am particularly proud of called on students to combine skills from Mathematics, Science, and Technology classes to analyze water quality data from various sources on campus.  Trimble, a leading provider of advanced positioning solutions, lent over $40,000.00 worth of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) hardware and software to the camp identical to those used in the gulf oil spill clean-up efforts.

Students worked in groups in the field to analyze water samples from fountains, streams, and sprinklers.  Using their understanding of chemistry fundamentals such as pH, they paired water quality information with location information collected using the GPS receivers.  Back in the classroom, students visualized the data with Google Earth, allowing them to speculate about possible pollution sources.

HSRP
I have been involved with the University of Arkansas at little Rock’s High School Research Program (HSRP) since its beginning in 2006.  The objective of the HSRP is to engage academic high achievers in a focused research environment by proactively mentoring them and helping them make informed choices on appropriate course work during their high school years for pursuing future careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In addition, the three week residential summer program provides informal peer mentoring by engaging students in faculty research projects, allowing high school students to establish early contact with college students and professors in specific areas of their interest.

Students worked on a variety of research projects this summer including Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS)-based piezoelectric materials in health monitoring applications, Computer Modeling of Human Respiratory Physiology, SCRATCH Programming, Robotics, Distributed Computing, and Social Network Mood Analysis.  For a full list including project descriptions, consult the 2010 project list.

As you can see in the above Animoto, the high school students have considerably more “play time” than the middle schoolers, but they all achieved great things this summer!

For more information about UALR, EIT, EMBHSSC, HSRP, or any other unpronounceable acronym, contact Vernard Henley, vwhenley@ualr.edu.