Thursday, November 1, 2007

Innovative Education

After more than 4 years in college and no where near getting a degree, I decided to drop out. The reality is that I had spent the those 4 years learning everything I could about software, hardware and networking. I was in a great environment. I had a boss who loved me and I worked for the only department in the entire school that had any money (and they had a boat load of it). In fact, they had so much money, I was tasked with figuring out how to spend it on cool computer systems across the entire department. Oh, did I mention my boss loved Apple computers? A dream job for me, except two things: #1. the rest of the school was jealous, so I was treated strangely. #2. the pay sucked ($5.40/hr), I could barely survive on what I was making.

The point of all of this? Well, basically what I was starting to say is that I was disillusioned by the fact that I was bored taking classes. Sure, I had really good professors, but I felt like I wasn't getting anything out of regurgitating what was in the books. It was frustrating that I was learning more information running the departments computers than I was attending classes. By my final year, I was taking a class in C programming and at the same time accomplishing something far more complex: porting X11R6 to A/UX (it took about 4-5 hours to compile it all). In class, things move a lot more slowly to keep up with the least common denominator.In the real world, the education I learned on my own by running these systems really made me feel a lot more useful; I was learning something that gave me the ability to make a real difference for my life and others. I like that concept a lot.

While reading my email just now, I saw this slashdot posting:
openfrog writes "An inspired professor at University of Washington-Bothell, Martha Groom, made an interesting pedagogical experiment. Instead of vilifying Wikipedia as some academics are prone to do, she assigned the students enrolled in her environmental history course to contribute articles. The result has proven "transformative" to her students. They were no longer spending their time writing for one reader, says Groom, but were doing work of consequence in a "peer
reviewed" environment, which enhanced the quality of their output."
And it dawned on me. This is a brilliant innovative education idea! If I had been tasked with helping others by improving wikipedia, then I would have been more interested in the subjects! Doing research for the purpose of sharing it with others is way more rewarding. I bet I would have learned even more by the fact that people would be editing my articles as well! How cool!

With that, I commend that Mrs. Groom for really thinking out of the box. You go girl.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing to me is that I feel you are lucky to have these thoughts captured as they are, for your to read later. And thats all I'd say.