Guest Post - Missing out on a great opportunity in education

# COMMENTS

Preamble

I've never accepted a guest post before but when my friend and long time colleague JonAlf Dyrland-Weaver said he had something to say I was all for it.

JonAlf's one of the best teachers I know - he started at Brandeis HS and has been at Stuy forever. Really sharp guy, great teacher, and really perceptive. When he has something to say it's 100% worth listening to.

To JonAlf - since I know this is one of my blog posts you'll actually read - you should set up a blog of your own. The community would be all the better for it.

Missing out on a great opportunity in education

By JonAlf Dyrland-Weaver

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, educators across the nation are adapting to remote learning. I’ve watched my colleagues work hard putting together plans on how to deliver content, engage students and assess their learning. Some, like myself, are combining multiple tools in order to achieve these goals while others are using a single platform for it all. I count myself lucky that the administration in my school has given its teachers the leeway to select their own tools instead of forcing a single platform on us. Last week, as I was thinking through what my plan was going to be, a particular thought kept nagging at me:

How much of this work will be seen?

We are facing an amazing opportunity in the world of education. Think of how many lessons, worksheets, notes, examples, etc. are being put out in some electronic form.

How much of this work will be seen?

Students will (hopefully) have access to the materials for their classes, and teachers in the same school may also be able to.

How much of this work will never be seen?

What about the teacher three states away that’s struggling to find good resources or new problems?

How much of this work will never be seen?

What about the student in a different district, perhaps one that has shut down entirely, who just wants to learn and do some work in order to help fill the days?

How much of this work will never be seen?

The internet gives us the ability to put all of these resources out there to the public, and it pains me to think about how much of this work is going to be hidden behind one platform or another. So many of the educational technologies make it very easy to post work for your class and very hard, if not impossible, to share it with other people (you’re school doesn’t also have a license for XYZ?, sorry).

Of course, there are many teachers out there that have no choice, they are being mandated to use whatever the school decrees. There are others, perhaps the less technically savvy, that are going to use whatever they can get trained on quickly. We’re all running a 2 minute drill and working with what we have. I get that, and it is not a teacher’s job to provide materials for everyone. That being said, If you have the knowhow, or would like to learn, there are ways to make your work publicly available. Last summer Mike and I ran a session at the CSTA conference on using GitHub for just this purpose, and hope to run a workshop on it this summer (For those interested, I made a brief tutorial about how to do this.

For my part, I’ll be putting everything on my class websites, if you need any ideas for intro to cs in python here’s my class: https://www.stuycs.org/intro1-dw/. If your’re looking for advanced cs, I’ve got a computer graphics class here: https://www.stuycs.org/graphics-dw/.