Winning with Digital Arts

Boys & Girls Clubs of America encourages STEM education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Edwin Link

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of AmericaFew issues are more important to the future of our nation than science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). According to the National Science and Technology Council, occupations in STEM are expected to grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations by 2018. Studies have also shown that fewer than half of all public schools offer visual arts programs. Additionally, children from low-income families are 50 percent less likely than youth from affluent families to participate in arts programs outside of school.

Few issues are more important to the future of our nation than science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) are helping young people develop passion and aptitude in STEM and the arts, focusing on innovation and the creative power of young people, activating their passion, and helping them push the boundaries of what is possible.

Two programs that are helping to encourage and develop the technology skills of talented youth that might not otherwise have these opportunities are BGCA’s Digital Arts Festivals (DAF) and the ImageMakers National Photography Contest.

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America imageRecently, the national teen winners from various Clubs across the country headed to Los Angeles for a once-in-a-lifetime recognition trip and awards ceremony The recognition trip, sponsored by Comcast and NBCUniversal, Sony Electronics Inc., and Cartoon Network, was a fun and educational way to celebrate the accomplishments of these young adults in the area of computer- generated art. Activities included an awards gala at the historic Globe Theatre and a private tour of Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Studios and Cartoon Network Studios. Additionally, the teens participated in career experiences with Comcast and NBCUniversal executives, covering topics such as music in film and how to pitch movie ideas.

Each of the students has an amazing story. Sanja K., 13, of Porter County, Indiana, is being recognized in two categories – animation and game design. Sanja said that she used to play video games but now takes pleasure in creating them. As a new resident in the U.S. with a language barrier, she found photography to be the perfect outlet for expressing her feelings and point of view. Sanja would like to work in a STEM-related field when she grows up.

For some of these teens, the trip to LA was their first time on a plane, like Samuel W., 18, of Dane County, Wisconsin. Samuel is being recognized for music making.  He currently lives in foster care and finds that spending time creating music helps him channel his energy into something he loves and reduces his stress. He describes the trip to LA as “really amazing and a dream come true.”

CREDIT Jeff Lewis:AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America - theatreAdrian A., a 15 year-old from East Valley, Arizona is known as the “tech guru” at his Club. He is being recognized for movie making and enjoys building and fixing computers. Adrian wants to be an IT assistant or pursue a career in the technology field.

In its 12th year, the Digital Arts Festivals invite Club members ages 6 to 18 to submit their computer-generated art in one of six categories: photo illustration, music making, graphic design, game design, movie animation and film. The ImageMakers National Photography Contest has a rich, 50-plusyear history in Boys & Girls Clubs. The contest calls upon youth ages 6 to 18 to capture photographs in four categories: culture and tradition, portraits, surroundings, and photo with essay or poem.

The talent of this year’s national winners is phenomenal and we are proud to provide these teens with an opportunity to explore a wide variety of career paths, tour a new city and make new friends from Boys & Girls Clubs around the world.  The winning artwork, chosen from 20,000 entries, will be on display at the BGCA National Headquarters throughout the year and online at the Digital Arts Festivals Gallery and ImageMakers Gallery.

Edwin Link is the Senior Director of Academic Success, Innovation & the Arts for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Visit: www.bgca.org 

PHOTO CREDITS

The all-expenses-paid, weeklong recognition trip to LA rewards teen winners for their excellence in digital animation, graphic and game design, filmmaking, music, and photography. Teens are being treated to an awards gala in their honor at the historic Globe Theatre, exploration of digital arts careers with Comcast and NBCUniversal, photography lessons with a Sony Artisan of Imagery photographer and private tours of Universal Studios, Warner Bros Studios and Cartoon Network Studios. 

Sound Mixing photo:  Club teens from around the world learn about sound mixing at Universal Studios as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Mario Lopez photo: Boys & Girls Clubs alum and Extra host Mario Lopez meets with 18 Club teens from around the world on the set of Extra at Universal Studios Hollywood as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Globe Theatre photo:  Club teens from around the world pose on the steps of the historic Globe Theatre in Los Angeles as part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Digital Arts Festivals and ImageMakers National Photography Contest. Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis/AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 

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Keeping Track of Technology

Challenges schools face tracking assets and how technology can help.

GUEST COLUMN | by Brian Sutter

CREDIT Wasp barcode technologiesAdvances in technology have a significant impact on the way companies do business – streamlining procedures and increasing employee productivity.  That same technological impact can be seen in the field of education. As schools accumulate computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices to improve teaching methods used to address the variety of student learning styles, they find themselves responsible for high ticket fixed assets.  Over the last decade, state and federal governments have placed many of those computers, laptops, tablets, and SMART devices (boards, projectors, notebooks) in schools throughout the country.  In fact, federal agencies spend more than $300 trillion on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) investments every year.

Schools face a real challenge in tracking equipment: knowing who is using it, making sure only authorized users take possession, and knowing where the equipment is at any given point in time.

When schools experience loss of this technology – whether due to misplacement or theft – it often turns out they can’t provide specific details on the missing assets. Schools face a real challenge in tracking equipment: knowing who is using it, making sure only authorized users take possession, and knowing where the equipment is at any given point in time.

Schools using outdated methods for tracking purchased items – pen & paper or Excel – are spending too much time and money on a process that is labor intensive, difficult to reconcile, and taxing to demonstrate compliance.  Many of these schools are turning to asset management systems to overcome the unique challenges they face: financial restrictions, funding compliance requirements, and unusual time limitations.

Money

A 5% cut to federal programs in 2013 resulted in a $727 million dollar loss of federal aid for public school districts – that’s $50,000 for each $1 million granted.  School districts already facing significant state and local budget cuts experienced the negative consequences of less federal money: laid-off teachers/staff, cut extracurricular activities, increased class sizes, cut elective programs, closed schools, etc.

If a school’s budget is already incredibly tight and it’s difficult to purchase needed items, it may seem counterintuitive to spend more money.  However, an asset management system is an investment that quickly pays off.  Keeping track of purchased items and recording performed maintenance allows assets to be used for a longer period of time, and it’s required when using federal grant money.

The federal government requires any item purchased with grant money to be tracked, maintained, and disposed of appropriately.  An automated asset management system provides schools the necessary tool for recording each step of the tracking process and ensures detailed documentation for compliance auditing.

Compliance

Equipment purchased with grant money must be used by the program or department awarded the funds.  Additionally, there are specific grant compliance requirements for this equipment:

  • Property records must be maintained and include a description of the property, a serial number or other identification number, the source of property, who holds title, the acquisition date, the cost of the property, percentage of Federal participation in the cost, the location, use and condition of the property, and any ultimate disposition data including the date of disposal and sale price.
  • A control system must be developed to ensure adequate safeguards to prevent loss, damage, or theft of the property. Any loss, damage, or theft will be investigated.
  • A physical inventory or audit of the property must be taken and the results reconciled with the property records at least once every two years.
  • Adequate maintenance procedures must be developed to keep the property in good condition.
  • When original or replacement equipment acquired under a grant is no longer needed, disposition of the equipment will be made as follows:

(1)  Items of equipment with a current per-unit fair market value of less than $5,000 may be retained, sold or otherwise disposed of with no further obligation.

(2)  Items of equipment with a current per unit fair market value in excess of $5,000 may be retained or sold and the awarding agency shall have a right to an amount calculated by multiplying the current market value or proceeds from sale by the awarding agency’s share of the equipment.

Manually keeping track of these accountability requirements places the school or district in a financially precarious position.  At any time, the Federal government has the right to audit for grant compliance.  An automated asset management system will track each step of the process and provide the desired evidence.

Time

Once the initial challenge of allocating funds to purchase an asset management system is overcome, finding the time to record all of the details required, for grant compliance or for accounting’s general ledger, is the most significant challenge schools and districts face.  By its very nature, asset tracking is a never-ending process; selecting a system that is easy-to-implement and easy-to-use guarantees continued use by the staff responsible for recording asset details and ensures data accuracy and integrity.

In addition to the time required to record asset details, schools are responsible for auditing assets at least once every two years; however, most schools perform a yearly audit.  The difficulty lies in the traditional auditing method: taking a printed list from location to location and manually checking off fixed assets.  Implementing an automated asset tracking system allows users to take advantage of the technology they’re actually tracking.  Asset tracking systems that include mobile functionality (mobile computers or downloaded iPhone/Android apps) significantly decrease the amount of time required to validate asset information.

Schools that have transitioned to an automated asset management system have found that the unique challenges they face – money, compliance, and time – are easily overcome and the long-term benefits have significant impact on both staff and students.

Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode Technologies, a productivity solutions company. Brian sets the strategic direction and oversees the tactical execution of the company’s marketing programs. Write to: bsutter@waspbarcode.com  or visit: www.waspbarcode.com

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SIS Search

A superintendent shares his journey to an updated student information system.

GUEST COLUMN | by Daniel Fishbein

CREDIT SkywardSix years ago in Ridgewood, New Jersey, we learned that our current student information system (SIS) was going off the market and would no longer be maintained by the vendor. At that time, the search for a new SIS was one of my first responsibilities as the new superintendent of Ridgewood Public Schools.

With a reputation for excellent teachers and high performing students, Ridgewood is the largest school system in Bergen County, New Jersey, serving more than 5,900 students in 10 schools – six elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and one Pre-Kindergarten special needs school.

The SIS has transformed how we communicate with families and students about student progress. But those words just scratch the surface.

Improve Communication and Learning Analytics

Because Ridgewood’s existing system was not web-based, communication between teachers and parents was done the old fashioned way – over the phone, through email, letters or face-to-face. Today’s parents want to be more involved; they desire on-demand visibility into their student’s academic development and the ability to cultivate stronger relationships with teachers.

The system used to manage student-related information also lacked data mining capabilities and was difficult to use, making it almost impossible for end users to generate their own reports. Simple things like SAT scores and grade point averages, or a student’s progression in a specific program from elementary school to middle school could not be correlated.

We were really looking to achieve greater visibility in order to pinpoint what was working, where there were areas that needed improvement, and what we could do to better service our students.

Choosing a New Student Information System

After convening a search committee of administrators, guidance personnel, parents, teachers and IT specialists, and appointing the IT manager as its chairperson, I charged the stakeholders with the evaluation and recommendation of a new SIS for the district. The system had to meet several criteria including a parent portal, regular SIS components for all students, the ability to facilitate parent communications regarding Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for our special education pupils, and the capability of handling New Jersey State reporting requirements. It was also important that our new SIS vendor be reputable and is positioned to grow and expand the system in sync with the ongoing changes in education.

The committee initially suggested five SIS products, but the one we ultimately chose was not brought to the table. At my former district, I had successfully implemented Skyward, Inc. and therefore my final charge to the group was to add it to the list. Following an exhaustive investigation of the six systems including site visits, demonstrations and colleague recommendations, the committee defended the group consensus to me: my recommended addition was at the top of the list and the committee’s recommended first choice.

Transformation of Teaching and Learning

Our district is continually recognized at a state and national level for school and individual achievements, and we are focused on delivering a high-quality education focused on maximizing the potential of every learner.

Today I can say that the SIS has transformed how we communicate with families and students about student progress. But those words just scratch the surface. Students use the mobile app to check on their progress; parents can update vital information through the porthole; teachers can communicate assignment details; and we can easily get news out to our entire learning community of parents, students and staff.

The system also puts some degree of responsibility on students to be an active participate in their own education. In addition to managing things like course selection, our older students have access to their academics so they can see where they stand and what they can do to improve their own performance. From initial classroom assignments to final grades, the system has greatly improved the quality of our school communications by providing single-entry access to relevant information and performance indicators. This system has truly moved the Ridgewood Public Schools forward in the area of SIS.

We feel that our SIS surpasses districts’ needs in state reporting, improves operational capabilities, and opens communication between schools and families. Today, it is used in more than 1,700 school districts worldwide, ranging from districts with as few as 50 students to statewide implementations supporting more than 800,000 students — including ours.

Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D., superintendent of Ridgewood Public Schools for the past six years, was superintendent in Glen Ridge, New Jersey for eight years prior to Ridgewood. Write to: dfishbein@ridgewood.k12.nj.us or visit: www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us

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Before the Robots

Five things to consider before implementing robots in your classrooms.

GUEST COLUMN | by Andrew Grefig

CREDIT NAO robotsProviding students access to quality technology is often at the heart of many decisions districts make when purchasing educational materials. With robotics firmly ensconced within businesses across the globe, districts are starting to integrate this next step of computing into their schools. There are a ton of robotics options available, from the incredibly simple to the mystifyingly complex. Before making a purchase decision on any of these, here are a few questions to consider:

#1 – What is the curriculum goal?

Why is your district choosing to implement a robotics curriculum? There are a number of great responses, and a few that can totally derail the decision. Picking a robot simply for the sake of being able to say, “We offer robotics” is destined to fail. Forward thinking schools answer the curriculum goal by making a firm commitment to introduce or supplement a programming initiative. These schools are invested in the promise offered by the opportunity of programming skills – a field with immense possibilities and solid income potential where diversity in thought and life experience is appreciated. Other schools want a practical and career-oriented means to integrate STEM topics for their students. Robotics experiences are generally different than any other class offered in schools, and may reach students that would otherwise tune out “traditional” subjects.

#2 – Is your curriculum siloed?

Horizontal curriculum alignment is key to a successful robotics program. Are your math teachers clearly communicating their map and vision with the robotics implementers? The best implementations have ample time to cross-reference year-long maps and plan appropriate activities to match. Once students complete a robotics activity, are they set-up to produce a polished writing piece in an ELA class? Are they reading about how Amazon uses robots and automation in their warehouses before they program a robot to map a maze and find the shortest route? Set your implementation on course for success from day one by figuring out how to draw all of the components together early in the process.

#3 – Are you offering appropriate professional development?

After curriculum goals have been identified and clearly delineated, and the curriculum team has mapped out the year, the next step is making sure that teachers understand how to use the robots. Quality professional development for robots starts with giving teachers the basic tools they need to use the robots and then explores, at least partially, the more advanced capabilities that participants may not yet be equipped to handle. Once teachers have an understanding for how the robot works and what it’s going to bring to their classrooms, the more likely they are to experience success in helping with the rollout.

#4 – Can your infrastructure support this initiative?

Answering this question usually involves coordinating with staff not generally regarded as curriculum focused. Schools’ multi-year technology plans may not have planned for a potentially dramatic increase in either the number of connected devices or enough bandwidth to support a robotics curriculum. Classrooms that used to have a steady, hassle-free connection with either one or a small handful of devices may not be able to function as well when a cart full of laptops arrives and a few robots oversaturate an access point. Some of the most frustrating experiences we’ve encountered while delivering professional development have occurred when a network that worked well previously wasn’t able to bear the load of 20 teachers each using a laptop and trying to communicate with a robot. Don’t let excellent planning for curriculum and content be set aside by a lapse in network capability.

#5 – Are your teachers comfortable implementing?

Robotics is probably not your teachers’ primary specialty at this point. More often than not, they’re common branch teachers, rarely a subject specialist. Supporting students in robotics can require your teachers to use instructional strategies they may not be totally comfortable using. If the curriculum you’ve designed implores students to be creative in their thought process, are the teachers selected for this initiative capable of teaching the creative process? Besides professional development specific to the rollout, are teachers being supported in these ancillary topics? Meaningful professional development not only aligns to instructional goals, it is also iterative and long-term. A single session on Synectics isn’t going to do much in the way of helping your students over the course of the year.

Andrew Grefig is Director of Curriculum and Content of Teq, a company dedicated to championing the evolution of the modern classroom since 1972. Its professional development team of more than 23 education professionals works closely to empower educators, leverage and improve technology integration, and increase student achievement and success in the Common Core curriculum. Write to: info@teq.com

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Novel Approach

A business course at the University of Oklahoma employs innovative learning techniques.

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

CREDIT OU Jeremy ShortJeremy Short is the Rath Chair in Strategic Management at the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma. His research focuses on multilevel determinants of firm performance, strategic decision process, entrepreurship, research methods, franchising and family business. Introduction to Management is a course that provides knowledge of interest to individuals of all ages and backgrounds who wish to learn more about managing careers, individuals, organizational situations, decisions, and relationships. The course features a graphic novel that chronicles the tales of Atlas Black as

I think it’s an exciting time to be part of higher education. I consider myself to have the best job in the world.

he works to fund his college expenses, start a new business, and act as a fledgling entrepreneur, along the way illustrating key concepts from principles of management. Recent studies conducted at OU find graphic novels are associated with superior student recall compared to traditional textbooks alone. The content of the course uses innovative delivery material including online lectures, a traditional textbook, and a graphic novel textbook. In this insightful discussion, Jeremy (pictured) elaborates on the course features, what the students think, efficacy studies, interactive learning communities and his thoughts on the future of education.

Victor: Your Introduction to Management Course features some unique course materials like a graphic novel textbook. Why a graphic novel? What inspired you to take this approach?

Jeremy: The graphic novel integrates two great devices associated with passing down knowledge throughout the ages. First, it uses storytelling where concepts are more naturally applied because you can see how a theoretical framework or valuable concept is fleshed out. In contrast, textbooks often have scores of unrelated examples and I think that can be confusing at times. Second, the graphic novel leverages the power of visual presentation to ‘show’ how the material is being applied. Again, one issue with many textbooks is if the authors are not careful then they can end up with a work full of stock photos with little to help reinforce the specific concepts in the book. I think my main inspiration was movies. I have always loved movies and I saw how powerful they could be in terms of storytelling, and of course I’ve memorized hundreds of lines from movies but very few from textbooks. When I saw more adult-oriented graphic novels such as Maus and Persepolis and the 911 Commission Report in graphic novel format, I realized that I couldn’t make a movie, but I could write a graphic story that could be effectively used with an adult and college-age audience. So, I was able to develop several graphic novels and co-author a Harvard Business School case in graphic novel format.

Victor: How do you incorporate the materials? What is the response from students? 

Jeremy: The graphic novel is the primary textbook for my course, Introduction to Management. The book tells the story of Atlas Black as he graduates college, gets his first job and eventually starts his own business. It applies concepts from entrepreneurship and management courses in an interesting and digestible format and I incorporate it just as I would a traditional textbook – chapter assignments are outlined in the syllabus with related exercises. Feedback has been very positive. In fact, students in my classes, as well as students we’ve surveyed about using graphic textbooks, say they prefer the graphic novel format to a traditional textbook.

Victor: You’ve conducted research on the use of graphic novels to teach business concepts. What are some of your findings?

Jeremy: My research with Aaron McKenny and Brandon Randolph-Seng used a 2-study approach. The first study explores the potential of graphic novels to impact learning outcomes and finds that the graphic novel was related to high levels of learning. The vast majority of students (82 percent) either strongly agreed or agreed that Atlas Black compared favorably to other management textbooks they have used in the past. Eighty percent of those surveyed strongly agreed that the graphic novel format helped them develop their ideas about strategic management in a more organized way compared to reading traditional material.

The second study compares the impact of graphic novels with that of traditional textbooks and finds that verbatim recognition was superior with graphic novel texts. That is, students using the graphic novel textbook performed better on verbatim recognition identifying specific passages than those using a traditional textbook.

Victor: The course also features animated rap videos. How did you decide which course concepts to illustrate using this method? What other innovative tools do you use in the course?

Jeremy: In addition to the graphic novel, I also use a traditional textbook in the course as well. I use animated rap videos to accompany each chapter of that text so key elements are brought to life in a more visual and engaging way, helping reinforce them.

When we developed these last year, I was inspired by the old Schoolhouse Rock series as well as Flocabulary’s ‘This Week in Rap’ series. I met Buck and Clint Vrazel, (collectively known as Twinprov, an Oklahoma City-based improvisation group) when I gave a TEDxOU talk on the power of graphic novels and I asked them to craft some rap songs based on material in the book. The decision on which concepts to illustrate was a fairly organic one between myself and Twinprov.

In some cases I had a specific idea of what might be covered in a given chapter, but in others Twinprov would come to me with an idea that I liked; it tends to depend on the dynamics of each chapter. For example, they knew I was a Star Wars fan so one of their songs discusses organizational structure in the world of Star Wars. One innovative tool in teaching the course this year is that students are asked to provide a response to the “rap-up” videos. The hope is that their responses are interesting enough to encourage interaction from other students, making the experience more personalized. One idea we are developing now is the incorporation of mini graphic novel cases similar to the Harvard Business School case I co-authored in graphic novel format.

Victor: This summer you’re offering the course through the University of Oklahoma’s interactive learning platform, Janux. What is Janux? How have you updated the course to leverage the features of the platform? How do you expect it to impact student engagement and learning?

Jeremy: Janux is an interactive learning community built on social learning. It integrates communication features found in social media with other tools that facilitate conversation, learning and collaboration between the students.

We’ve updated the class in a number of ways to take advantage of the Janux platform. Students are now asked to engage with each other by telling their unique stories in regard to elements of management they are working to improve. Aspects might include time management, career management or management of goals and/or relationships. When someone is engaged in social media such as Facebook or Twitter, part of the thought is the belief they have something interesting to say, and those they follow have something worth listening to. We try to hit on both of these possibilities with the activities used in class this term and the Janux platform allows us to encourage and enable that interaction in real-time discussion boards, through whiteboards and even within the course material itself – for example, students can highlight and make notes in the texts and in the video transcripts, then share their thoughts with their classmates, leading to a rich dialogue. Additionally, the video production quality of the “rap-up” videos and the videos that introduce each chapter of the traditional textbook is top shelf.

Victor: The course is offered either for-credit or as an open enrollment MOOC. Are the two versions kept separate or do the students cross-collaborate? How does that enhance the educational experience? 

Jeremy: In some areas they are kept separate. For example, more in-depth quizzes are required of enrolled students. But, in all the areas of social interaction there is no separation. Janux allows and encourages students to cross-collaborate. For-credit and open enrollment, non-credit students are not kept separate in regards to their thoughts and comments. By blending the cohorts, the learning experience for both is enriched since they are able to collaborate with one another, including the professors, and share experiences and perspectives. This is great because many of the students can learn from those taking the course that might have considerable work experience that all students can find valuable. The emphasis on enhancing engagement stems from features of social platforms that encourage interaction, information sharing and collaboration and are incorporated into Janux.

Victor: If someone is interested in taking the course, how can they sign up?

Jeremy: Simply visit Janux.ou.edu, create an account and get started with Introduction to Management! Students will have to purchase access to both of the books, but the cost is less than $50 total.

Victor: What are your thoughts on education in general these days?

Jeremy: I think it’s an exciting time to be part of higher education. I consider myself to have the best job in the world. Certainly much of my current views on education are impacted by the lens of the institution that writes my checks, OU. In that regard, I’m very happy to be at a place that values traditional academic research and an engaging on-campus experience while embracing other educational values such as civic and social engagement, and the incorporation of new technology. In my department, which focuses on Management and Entrepreneurship, I can see firsthand a trend towards colleges and universities working to be more entrepreneurial in the courses and services they offer and I find that to be engaging as well.

Victor: What are your thoughts on technology’s role in education?

Jeremy: The mission of the University of Oklahoma is to provide the best possible educational experience for our students through excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and service to the state and society.

I believe technology can help us in academia to fulfill the goals of our respective institutions. In my case, I can teach a course that is of value to many students at OU (Introduction to Management) while providing content to open-enrolled students that they will find valuable. At a time when tuition has become a huge barrier for many students, we can leverage technology to provide access to valuable learning materials for some of those students who might not otherwise choose to enroll for credit or have the need to earn a formal degree. For example, I was humbled last year when a student who completed all elements of the open course sent me a picture of his hometown in Australia.

Another element of technology I’ve enjoyed is the pressure and excitement that occurs when recording lectures. I believe it forces me to think through every statement I make to ensure I’m taking advantage of the limited time I have to get my message across. At the same time, it also provides the benefit that I don’t have to worry about misspeaking in class since everything has been planned in advance. And, I know class is never going to be cancelled due to an illness or unfavorable weather.

Victor: Anything else that you may have wished to discuss but we didn’t get to? 

Jeremy: I think one element that doesn’t seem to really get discussed enough is the element of trade-offs in education. For example, graphic novels offer rich storytelling in a short amount of space, but traditional textbooks can offer great detail. I’ve learned some valuable lessons about graphic presentation through the graphic novels that I was able to incorporate later when I co-authored a traditional textbook. So, I think the interplay between various mediums can be explored more as well.

Trade-offs exist with technology, too. I can teach an online class that in many ways is as effective or even improves upon in my view large lecture classes where students tend to have very little interaction with their professors. But, for now, I believe the one-on-one mentoring and training I engage in with doctoral students would be very challenging in a purely online environment.

I do hope more dialogues that present trade-offs and help bridge the gaps between the pros and cons of different approaches will move to the forefront of some of the discussion that is occurring in education. I don’t see myself as having an agenda for graphic novels or technology. I’m simply someone who wants students to have the best possible learning experience and I believe both are valuable tools.

Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com

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