Posts Tagged ‘Advanced’

Jane Ostrander: Scenario-based Learning and Social Media

Monday, November 30th, 2009

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First off, we hope you and your family had a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

A couple weeks back, we talked to Gordon Snyder about using social media in the classroom. This week we’re hearing another perspective from Jane Ostrander, Director of the Experimental Learning Center at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif.

Jane is writing her dissertation about the reasons why people choose to participate in online knowledge sharing. It boils down to a cost/benefit analysis: “The potential participant must see some value in participating that outweighs whatever costs s/he anticipates will occur as a result of that participation.”

Once an online community is established, it’s vital to make sure participants have a stake in the conversation. Jane cites research showing that “a sense of either personal ownership or stewardship of the information enhanced sharing.”

Jane and her team are putting these insights to work in an online community on the educational site Tapped In. They’re using the site to explore new ways to disseminate instructional materials and lesson plans, and to develop online “wizards” to provide advice to community college instructors. Jane has also used YouTube as a way to get materials out to a wide audience without spending a lot of money – “always a concern with budget-impaired community college faculty,” she notes.

As for other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, Ostrander thinks it’s important not to confuse tools with learning. She hopes that her fellow teachers remember the lesson from the advent of the personal computer. “Buying and networking a bunch of computers and parking them in the back of the classroom did not automatically enhance teaching and learning in that classroom,” she notes.

“Social network tools provide educators with a means to connect with and inform students, but that’s not the same thing as facilitating learning,” she says. “The interaction between teacher, student, content and environment – including the available tools – is what makes learning happen in the classroom.”

In other words, it’s not the technology but what teachers are able to do with it that makes a difference for students. That’s why she’s staying actively involved in her Tapped In community. “Essentially, our project team is driving the bus at this point, though hopefully not forever, whereas social media tools just deliver the bus and a set of keys and say, ‘Go for it; make of it what you will.’”

ATETV Episode 10: Back to Fundamentals

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

We’ve been talking a lot about big ideas in ATE on this blog: women in science and tech, social media as an educational tool, and the coming green economy. This week we’re turning to focus on two very practical and important parts of the educational experience: the math and science classes high school students need to be taking to get into ATE programs, and the internships that will help them land jobs after they complete their degrees.

But first, we profile student Matthew Kusza, who is studying environmental technology at Cape Cod Community College. Like many of our previous student profiles, Matthew turned to ATE to help him change careers. “I have four kids, and keeping busy with that and school and working to pay the bills,” he told us. “Most of the classes are at night, so that’s very supportive in terms of a work environment.”

Next we head out west to Southwestern College in San Diego, which has had fantastic success placing students in internships — and placing interns in jobs after school. “We still to this day have a hundred percent hiring rate with the industry of any intern that has completed a ten-week internship with an industry host,” explains Nouna Bakhiet, director of the school’s biotechnology program. By consulting with industry when designing their program, Southwestern is guaranteeing that students are graduating with the skills companies want and need.

Finally, we get back to basics and discuss the importance of basic math and science skills for ATE students. It’s not just that taking those classes in high school will better prepare students for ATE programs; it’s also essential for landing a job afterwards. “In our world, it’s of utmost importance that they have science and math because without that, they don’t have the technical expertise that we require,” explains Jill Heiden of South Carolina-based ESAB Welding and Cutting Products.

Math, science and internships: three fundamental building blocks of a strong ATE program and a successful career and in science and technology.

ATETV Episode 9: Women in Science

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

This week we have two stories about bringing more women into science and engineering — and one of them involves some pretty cool lasers!

First, we visit with female students and educators at Florence-Darlington Technical College in South Carolina. Many of the ATE students here are male, but administrators are making progress attracting more women. “If you can present education in a way that taps into those natural abilities of females, then they can excel in ways they never thought they could excel,” says Elaine Craft, Director of South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (SC ATE) and an ATETV advisor.

In neighboring North Carolina, Central Carolina Community College is attracting female students by offering them a free education. “All females can go to school for free: free tuition, free books,” explains CCCC’s Gary Beasley. “You can’t beat that.” We profile Katie Renshaw, a student in CCCC’s lasers and photonics program where she gets to work with some amazing equipment, including a laser powerful enough to burn a block of wood!

This week, we also meet Kevin Ross, who is studying HVAC at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston. Kevin had been out of school for 20 years before he was laid off. Now he’s studying to become a licensed HVAC technician. His story highlights the crucial role that technician education programs play in helping workers update their skills to adapt to the demands of a changing economy.

ATETV Episode 5; Plus, ATETV Reports Live From the 2009 NSF ATE Conference!

Monday, October 19th, 2009

ATETV episode 5 is up, and this week we’re reporting on three different ATE success stories. First, we meet a young single mother studying process technology to improve life for her and her family. Then we see how the geospatial technology is bringing the centuries-old craft of surveying into the 21st century. Finally, we learn how internships are getting ATE students into jobs even before they graduate.

In other news, Wednesday through Friday this week the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation are holding the 16th National ATE Principal Investigators Conference in Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Technicians and the Green Economy,” and the conference organizers have followed through by “greening” proceedings, down to the 100-percent recycled reusable water bottles handed out to all participants.

In addition to discussing the meeting’s very timely theme, participants will attend sessions about making the most of their NSF grants, showcase their projects and network with ATE professionals in their fields from across the country. There’s even a session on making the most of social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, led by ATETV advisor Gordon Snyder and featuring Mike Qaissaunee, the star of last week’s cloud computing segment.

In order to bring you an insider’s perspective on this week’s event, we’ve recruited two ATE students who will be in attendance to serve as ATETV correspondents. Josh Cleburn is a student at Lee College in Baytown, Texas, just outside Houston. Josh is the president of the school’s section of ISA — The Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society.

Also reporting for us is Cristina Curatolo, who is representing Nashville State Community College at the conference. Originally, from Romania, Cristina is a student in NSCC’s Visual Communications program specializing in Multimedia Design. “For me this is a real honor and shows me how much my instructors respect the work that I have done,” Cristina said of attending this year’s conference. You can see an example of her work on her iTunes podcast.

Thanks to Josh and Cristina for their help, and check back in here for more from this year’s conference.  Our correspondent team will be sending live updates throughout the conference via Twitter and uploading photos via Facebook after the event.

We are also starting a discussion in the forum called ATE Conference: Technicians in the Green Economy.  Students, teachers, and other conference attendees can share their thoughts in this thread and keep us updated throughout the week.

We also would love to see your photos and hear your updates in our Facebook fan page.  Feel free to post photos and share your experiences with us.  For those “tweeting” from the event, follow our hashtag #ATEPI to stay up to date!

Never Too Late To Learn

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Last week on ATETV, we saw the value of Advanced Technological Education for high school and college-age students. This week we meet a student who proves it’s never too late to learn new skills or switch careers.

Najee’ Person is studying electronics engineering technology at Florence-Darlington Technical College in Florence, S.C. Najee’ had studied business at a community college before entering the workforce. Now he’s looking to make a change.

Najee’s story is a reminder that ATE programs aren’t just for the next generation of workers. As American industry shifts to new green technology, ATE programs can help technical workers update their skills and help workers from other fields, like Najee’, take advantage of new opportunities.    

And this week’s other two segments show that, when these older workers come to an ATE program, they get to work with cutting-edge technology. At Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, agriculture technology students are using the GPS and GIS gadgets found in many passenger cars to make farming more efficient. Meanwhile, design students at Saddleback College in California are learning to “print” 3-D models of their work straight from their computers. 

These two programs are training students on the latest equipment, often donated by the very companies looking to hire the graduates of these programs. Courses like these are a common-sense way for both new and older workers to keep their technical skills fresh.