[Edu-sig] baby steps redux

Hank Fay hank@prosysplus.com
Sat, 5 Feb 2000 00:35:43 -0500

>	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.

Hank -- the preceding is fascinating. Can you be more specific?



	when a teacher teaches in a classroom, everything is laid out in a lesson
plan.  That lesson plan references curriculum objectives, details methods,
etc.  It's a lot of work to develop these.  Typically, it takes until the
3rd year for an experienced teacher moving to a new grade level to have it
all down to a comfortable level.

	The general curriculum demands come from the State, but generally fall into
line with curriculum standards that are essentially national: if California
and Texas adopt a textbook, e.g., the rest of the states will likely end up
using that book, because that's what the publishers will offer (and the
associated curriculum materials will be available for those books, etc.).

	Nothing will happen in this (programming) initiative in the classroom
unless these materials are made available to the teachers.  To create a new
curriculum for a single subject at the local level typically involves a team
of 5 teachers meeting half-days for several weeks during the summer (if not
much more, depending on the degree of sea-change).  Not that they don't like
this work (it's a way to make some money during the summer and still be able
to golf and fish <s>), but the school districts have to fund it, the
teachers have to have the background in the area which in this case would
involve additional training, etc.

	But if they are presented with the materials ready to go, and a few
web-based workshops can teach them how to use the materials, then the chance
of adoption shoots up.

	That brings one to the issue of what they need.  The best educational
software involves teacher and class: Tom Snyder Productions specializes in
this kind of software, e.g.  It's a whole area of expertise which is outside
of the ken of anyone I've seen represented on this list, including myself.
Then there is the 1- or 2-person software, with which we're more familiar
(but it's still not our field of expertise), needed for triangulating the
previously learned material.

	I think we're in a position to give some limited input; but getting it to
happen will involve educational curriculum specialists, educational software
designers, and Python users.  Our input will need to be elicited into usable
form by the educational curriculum specialists, specifically those with an
orientation toward cognitive development; then put into curriculum form by
those curriculum specialists who are classroom oriented.  Then put into
educational software by the ed. software designers, coordinated with
teaching materials, lesson plans, and test materials geared to curriculum

	It's a daunting task.

	The danger I see in this list is that one always tends to see other
people's jobs as being easy, not requiring special expertise.  I would no
more tell a classroom teacher how to teach a subject than I would let a
classroom teacher tell me how to design a database, or subclass an object.

	thanks for asking <s>,