[Edu-sig] baby steps, packaged

Hank Fay hank@prosysplus.com
Wed, 2 Feb 2000 21:54:28 -0500

Hi all,

	my connection with education is as a psychologist for 25 years, and a
developers consultant for a couple of years (with 20 years of programming
thrown in on the side -- no, I'm not 85 <s>). In addition, a good friend is
heading a startup that packages educational software for classroom use.  I
also grew up in education: my father was a teacher/guidance counselor/high
school principal, and my older sister a teacher for 30 years.

	Making things practical, and packaged, is the key to getting them in the
classroom.  Give a teacher a program that meets the level of her students,
and a lesson plan that goes with the software, together with a teaching
guide, and if it works, it will be adopted.  Give them building blocks they
have to put together themselves, and adoption will be spotty.

	Tying the software/lesson plans into national curriculum standards would be
real plus: this is work that the teacher doesn't have to reinvent.  What
standards?  What does developing software entail?  What doesn't it entail?
<s>  Wouldn't it be great for writing courses to teach documentation skills?
(Speaking of which, check out the "fast and easy" series of teaching books
for MS products -- they are written, or rather not written, in a style which
speaks to the average person.)

	Psychologist Jerome Bruner maintains that all complex concepts are
isomorphs of simpler concepts; same shape, different levels of complexity
within.  I think that has to be the organizing principle for the K-12
curriculum, or whatever range is chosen.

	Now, our range of convenience (a term from George Kelly's Personal
Construct Theory, important in this task because we have to realize our
limitations in seeing things the way little people see them) is in standard
programming, so I would start there, and then work backwards.  Describe the
end tasks of the multi-year curriculum first.  Then work backwards.  You
will need educational specialists at the different age levels to tell you
the level of cognitive complexity appropriate to an age group.

	Thus my $.02.

Hank Fay