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--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

Time seems to be flying by so quickly. It’s only my second week of classes and I already feel like I’m entrenched so deeply into various projects.

The first exciting piece of news is that I got the internship I wanted! I’m going to be a Learning Resources Developer for the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab! I will be developing and designing online resources and tutorials for Scratch. I am insanely excited about this! The other great thing is that in addition to getting school credit, I will also be getting paid!

On Monday I went to my data science class, which I absolutely loved! Data visualization is an area I had always been intrigued by but had never really ventured in. I am starting to get a better idea of what this field is, and how it can be applied to various disciplines, education included. The class was very hands-on, and we used Tableau to visualize some data. It’s this learning analytic software that will take your existing spreadsheets, and then you can use various tools to visualize it – graphs, maps, bubbles etc. It was so awesome. It really has me thinking about data/information in new ways. I’m really excited about that class.

Every week is truly an adventure here. I cannot stress enough how much I absolutely LOVE my classes. I feel appropriately challenged and engaged. I also love the general HGSE community. I feel like we are a huge family that takes care of each other. On one occasion I mentioned my worry that I didn’t pack a snack to hold me over, and one of my classmates handed me two granola bars. When I mentioned I had a headache, another had Advil available. It’s just an amazing feeling to be part of such a caring cohort.

I’m doing my best to take advantage of the time I have here. When I first applied to this program, I was like, “Wow, it’s only a year – that’s awesome!” Now, I feel myself wishing I could be here longer. But who knows, I might feel differently during the winter or as projects pile on.

I just feel so incredibly happy to be here right now.



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--Originally published at Carli's T509 Blog

In this course, I want to learn more about not only MOOCs but other forms of large scale teaching. Whether or not MOOCs in their current form exist in ten years, I think that new understandings of how to scale up education will emerge from work done on current MOOCs and I think that this will have important implications for both free online learning and for teaching at traditional accredited institutions. I think that the course readings and lectures will touch on many of these issues.

I am also interested in considering how “open” MOOCs truly are. Even completely free MOOCs require that participants have access to a computer, have sufficient knowledge to feel comfortable in moderately complicated online spaces, and be able to use the website. I think that the discussion of MOOCs sometimes overlooks the fact that these limitations might put off people who would otherwise be interested in taking courses on these topics. I think that this will also be a topic of discussion in class, but I hope to further pursue it through my final project on MOOC accessibility. I will feel that I have succeeded if I have been able to evaluate the accessibility of several MOOCs across platforms to form a picture of the current state of access to MOOCs.

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--Originally published at Carli's T509 Blog

One of the aspects of this class that I am looking forward to is the final project. I am very interested in the accessibility of MOOCs and I plan to test and compare some of the major MOOC platforms to see how accessible they are to participants who are using various assistive technologies. Since I am so enthusiastic for this project, I already wrote up my proposal and Justin suggested that I share it with all of you. You can find it here. Let me know in the comments if you have feedback on my proposal or any questions about what I plan to do.

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--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

One thing I have heard from many alums is how fast this year will go by. I see what they mean. I can’t believe I’ve finished my first week here, and already so much work is underway.

The only class I haven’t been to is my Data Science class, since it was Labor Day that day. I’m looking forward to it!

The classes I have been to so far are amazing. I know it’s only week 1, but I’ve got a pretty good feeling about them. The course readings are very interesting, and it’s great that we’re actually discussing them in class. It’s very engaging, and I’m enjoying getting to meet so many awesome people. In my Innovation by Design course, I’m in a team and we’re already getting the foundation of our project ready.

One thing that I have found interesting about my classes here is the completely different atmosphere from those in my undergrad career. This is probably due to the difference in majors. In my journalism courses, the emphasis was on striving to get things right the first time. There was an intense pressure to be the best at everything, and to be perfect in everything. It was extremely stressful because you knew if you made a mistake somewhere, your grades would suffer.

I know it will probably get stressful at times here, but, I feel much more reassured here. There is much more of a collaborative spirit than a competitive one. I think it’s partly because as educators, we recognize we will be able to better solve problems by working together. 

Additionally, every professor has emphasized how much they care about the process rather than the end product/projects. They’ve talked about how too often they see students “play it safe” and hold back from taking risks because they are worried about their grades. One of my professors said something along the lines of that she would rather see us take a huge intellectual risk and flame out rather than do something we already know how to do. Many of my professors have also remarked how they find many Harvard students are uncomfortable with the idea of failure because they’ve never failed at anything, and how it can be jarring to take these courses where failure is a part of the learning process. They’ve also made the point about how if we’re too scared to take risks, how are we going to be innovators? If we’re paying all this money just to take courses and choose projects we already know a lot about, what’s the point? Aren’t we here to learn new things?

This is very refreshing and authentic to me. I’m also thankful that I taught before coming to grad school. I had always been afraid to fail, and teaching was the first time I failed – a lot. I could spend hours trying to create the perfect lesson plan, only to have it thrown off by a fire drill or a student having a bad day. I tried new approaches, and they didn’t always work. There was a lot of struggle before I saw any signs of achievement or growth in my students. I feel this experience was the perfect preparation for what I’m about to do this year – try new things that may not turn out exactly as planned, but in the end, I will be a better person from the experience

In other news, I’ve had two internship interviews, and I think they went fairly well. I heard back from the first and was offered the internship, but I am waiting to hear back from the other as that one is more aligned to my interests.

I also bought a membership at the gym, and have actually been going. In the past, I’ve made up excuses about not having time and being really busy – but now I’m actually scheduling it in, and am falling into a routine. I’m also walking to and from school everyday, which adds up to about to a little over 2 miles.

One thing that I’ve found to help keep track of all these things is my planner. I also make sure to start on assignments right away, rather than waiting until the last minute. I set realistic goals about how many tasks I can complete per day, so I don’t get overwhelmed. I will set aside specific time on the weekends to get work done, but try to spend most of that time relaxing and rejuvenating. I wonder how/if this will change as my work load changes, but overall I’m feeling positive about managing it all.

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--Originally published at What Higher Education Could Be

“College may cost a lot, but graduates earn more than enough to make up for it.”

-Status Quo, 2014

This is true. It says so right here. Economically speaking, on average, postsecondary education is still an individually rational investment despite the considerable cost. The value of a college degree compared to a high school degree has been rising for the last 30+ years, and college graduates say that college is worth it. So what’s the economic problem with the cost of college? As long as the value increases at a faster rate than the cost, people will continue to enroll despite the price tag, right? Not necessarily.

A problem with this reasoning is that it implicitly assumes that new species won’t enter the postsecondary ecology and disrupt homeostasis. An expensive horse and carriage can be worth the cost when the alternative is walking, but demand would nevertheless collapse once cars and bicycles enter the market. If there’s a bubble in higher education, I don’t think it’s the same kind of bubble we observed in mortgage-backed securities. People aren’t necessarily overspending on something of dubious value. If the bubble bursts, I don’t think it will be because firms suddenly decide that a postsecondary credential is worthless and refuse to pay the premium to support it. The threat to the status quo is that high-quality higher education could be offered for cheaper. I’ll spare you the microeconomic details of risk aversion, but a cheap education that would lead to a $45,000 salary could be preferable to an expensive education that yielded a $60,000 salary, even if there’s easy access to loans and the more expensive education tends to be worth the investment.


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--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

Walter and Gordie climbing rocks David was amused by this sign Very green and gorgeous. They discovered the swamp The aftermath of their swampy swim.

David and I decided to take advantage of the 3 day weekend and explore some of Massachusetts. We came across Breakheart Reservation, which is a forest area full of hiking trails and lakes in Saugus, MA. We picked a trail at random without consulting the map, and it ended up being of moderate difficulty. The dogs discovered a swampy area and dived right in. 

Although it was somewhat taxing – there were a lot of rocks to climb – it was worth it. We had a lot of fun and it was nice to get out and be active, especially while the weather is nice out. The dogs had a blast as well. We ended up having to consult the map in order to figure out how to get back, which was pretty cool. We felt like legitimate explorers. 

There was also a dog park within the park, which was neat. Dogs have to be leashed on the trails, but then there is a space where you can let them run free. 

I’d highly recommend this if anyone happens to be in the area. It’s very beautiful and peaceful. 

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--Originally published at My Life at Harvard

Fall Schedule

I was finally able to narrow down my choices and decide on which courses to take. 

Pretty much all my courses are project based, and that was intentional. The last masters program I completed at LMU gave me a great theoretical and foundational background in education, but it was a very traditional program. All I wrote were academic papers, and I didn’t get as much hands-on experience in the areas I was interested in pursuing. Now that I’m in the TIE (Technology, Innovation, and Education) program, I feel it’s the perfect opportunity to get that hands-on experience. I will still be building and learning various pedagogies, but I will also have the opportunity to apply those to my class projects and internships. 

I also made a conscious effort to choose classes that will help me reach my overall career goals. In the long term future, I can see myself working as an instructional technology consultant. I would like to help school districts or other organizations implement the technology they have in the most effective way. I am also contemplating finding a career in educational media. Regardless of what path I decide to go on, these courses will help me build the background and skills I need. 

The first course I am taking is a module – it’s only 2 credits. This means it will last 6 weeks and end in October. Data science is an area I don’t have much experience or skills in, and I really feel it is important to be able to generate and understand data regardless of whatever job I end up in. In this course I will learn how to evaluate data and learn about various applications of statistics and computer science in relation to education. I will have the opportunity to work with various tools and learn how to generate my own data, which I feel will be extremely helpful for some projects in the other courses I am taking. Since it’s a module, I will do much of the work in class which gives me more time outside of class to complete other course readings and projects.

The next course I am taking – Massive – is all about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). This course is designed to be an in-depth, collaborative investigation of learning environments where there are many users with few experts. Working collectively with both the instructor and my peers, we will explore what makes these environments successful or unsuccessful, and discuss their place in education. The course project parameters are fairly flexible, and we are encouraged to pursue a project in an area that we are passionate about, either individually or as a group. In our project, we explore some facet of large-scale online learning in depth. 

I am also taking Innovation by Design, which I am extremely excited about! It is taught by David Dockterman, who has led the development of many award winning educational technology programs. He also works at Scholastic Education, where he leads teams in creating products and programs. In this course, I’m going to learn about the process of creating educational technology products. In group teams, we decide on an education related problem we would like to solve. After researching possible solutions to that problem, we come up with an idea that uses technology to address the issue. Over the course of the semester, we test and revise our idea based on feedback. What’s great is that the focus isn’t so much on the final project but rather the entire process. I think this is great because it really allows us to take risks without worrying so much about our grade being based on a final product. He made it very clear that in the real world, it usually takes years to develop a successful product, and it would be unfair to expect us to do the same in 3 months. 

The last course I am taking is Karen Brennan‘s Designing for Learning by Creating. She has done a lot of work with Scratch, which is a free learning community where young people can program their own games, animations, and stories. I am absolutely stoked about this course and working with this professor. Karen is so engaging, and it is very clear she is passionate about what she does. This course is based around constructionism, which is a learning theory developed by Seymour Papert

“Constructionism builds on the constructivist theories of Jean Piaget,
asserting that knowledge is not simply transmitted from teacher to
student, but actively constructed by the mind of the learner.

Moreover, constructionism suggests that learners are particularly
likely to make new ideas when they are actively engaged in making
some type of external artifact, … which they can reflect upon and
share with others.” – Yasmin Kafai and Mitch Resnick (1996).

I think this is absolutely amazing and makes perfect sense in the context of education. I remember some instances where I was expected to lecture, and my students were expected to remember what I said. Of course, they didn’t. The real learning happened when my students were able to explore and create projects based around what we were learning. I remember learning about constructivism and Jean Piaget in one of my courses from my last Masters program. Now, I can take it a step further.  

In this course we will build a foundation of theories around learning, designing, and creating. Then, we will start making and creating in order to build a further understanding of these theories. Each week we will work on a mini project where we explore a tool and design a learning experience around it. Over the course of the semester, we also work on either an individual or group project that is related to the theme of the course – designing for learning by creating. 

I haven’t decided whether I will work on various aspects of one project in my courses, or work on multiple projects. I think I will be able to handle it either way, and I will be building my team and project management skills. 

I am also planning on finding a work study job/internship that I can petition for course credit. My current course schedule will be MWF, so I will have Tuesday and Thursday free for that. I was initially worried about this being too much to take on. However, with one of my courses being a module, the majority of work is done in class. Once that module is over in October, I will also have Monday completely free. 

I am also fairly used to taking on a lot of things at once and managing my time well. In my undergrad years, I took a full-course load and worked three part-time jobs. I have also been a teacher and taken night classes for my credential and Masters program. Basically, I am used to this sort of insanity. 

There really aren’t enough words to express how excited I am. This year is going to be amazing.