Career Technical Education

Thoughts from the California Information Communication Technologies Industry Advisory Committee

I flew down to San Diego last night to participate in the Statewide Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Industry Advisory Committee.  It helped me to remember how important ICT education is.  We had a great group of folks at the meeting, with a lot of passion and experience in supporting the students of California to becoming our next generation of “computer nerds”.

But it also brought back to me, about how our education system isn’t keeping up and changing for the needs of our next generation.  Technology is our future, and of any industry sector (other than potentially energy), it is the use or abuse of technology will make the biggest difference to the future of human kind. And educational content standards, and the related curriculum, can either be what will give our students the knowledge that will be needed when they graduate; or force irrelevant content on them, leading to more disillusion with our education system; and at the same time lead to more unemployment.

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Thought of the Day: Thriving in the World of the Future requires Learning in the Manner of the Past

I ran into two articles this morning about education from the Washington Post that on the surface seem very different, yet truly dovetail into each other.   The first is the fact that education in the United States is not providing the skills to the population that will be needed for the 21st century, even though it is in vogue to say things are “21st Century Skills”.   One only needs to look to the fact that Common Core requires teaching imaginary numbers but never mentions binary to see we have a problem.  The other article was about how we screw up learning in school so often, and how instructional fads that are said to be absolutely true at the time, are often not.  Along the same lines, it is worth considering what has happened when kids have just gotten to use a computer, and how much they learned on their own.

 

 

Why Johnny Can’t Compute: The Failure of the Old Math

Why Johnny Can't ComputeNearly every leader in our nation is saying that we need to have students get more STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), so that our country will not fall behind technologically and economically from the rest of the world. But, what they don’t say (possibly, because they don’t know), is that the type of math that is needed for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Computer Science (CS) is not the math that is normally taught in high school.

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Udacity is Guaranteeing Graduates will Get Jobs, is there a catch?

I wrote recently about my thoughts on whether MOOCs have been a failure.  Udacity is showing that they are not, and is an example of where the potential of technology to “disrupt” a market is finally entering the realm of education.  And it has now put its “money where its mouth is”, by doing something no college (that I know of) has done: guarantee its graduates a job. But what is the catch (if there is one)?

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Why California Can and Should Immediately Allow Computer Science to be used as an alternative to Algebra I as a High School Graduation Requirement

It is a given that the 21st century economy will be driven by information and communication technologies (ICT), in which nearly the entire human-created world that surrounds us will have a basis in computer science. And while our high schools require a graduate to know about the underlying structures of biological and physical sciences, there is no consistent requirement to understand the underlying structure of the information world. While groups and legislators have worked to make computer science, not just computer literacy, being a high school graduation requirement in California, this has not yet come to pass. And possibly it is not the best answer to the problem.   Instead, I’m going to suggest that a more appropriate solution, which can be implemented immediately, is to have high schools allow an introductory Computer Science course to be used as a graduation requirement alternative to Algebra I.

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My Short Critique of the Common Core Math Standards

I have not wanted to post too much about the Common Core until I had some time to learn more about it, think about it, etc.  So I’ve been sharing tidbits so far.  But I think it is time to share some of my critiques about the math standards, which I hope may filter into the next set of standards.

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Minesweeper as a Technician Training Tool

A screenshot of Mines-Perfect, a close alternative for Windows XP's Minesweeper game. From Wikimedia Commons, picture by Dimitri Torterat, See Wikimedia Commons Page for Licensing Information: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Minesperfect_windowsxp.pngSince at least 2007, I have used winning the game Minesweeper as an assessment to determine whether adult students were ready to join technician training classes that I have taught.  And in 2010, I conducted a Minesweeper and Hypothetical Thinking Action Research & Pilot Study as my Master’s project, in which I found some initial indications that ones computer ability was correlated with their ability to play Minesweeper. (Although, the sample size of that pilot study was so small, it should not be considered as any form of proof)

And, as I prepare to start a new technician training program with Highlands Community Charter and Technical Schools, I am again using Minesweeper as a prerequisite assessment.

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Free Computer Science and Information Technology Training Opportunity

On August 18, I am starting a small computer science and IT training program with Highlands Community Charter School, that will have no more than 10 students in it. This program is open to students who are 22 years of age, or older, and who don’t have a high school diploma.  Students must also have sufficient computer skills before entering the program, although, students who don’t yet have sufficient skills may join a self-paced IT Prep program with the school, to work up to joining the class.  This is a full-time program, where students go to school 6 hours per day for a full school year.

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Thought of the Day: Why Career Technical Teachers can make Extraordinary Academic Teachers

link between education and the work worldFor the past several days I’ve been posting about the discrimination against Career Technical Education teachers in California, and some solutions to this problem, and yesterday explained how CTE teachers can be recognized as being Highly Qualified by the standards started with “No Child Left Behind”.

And while all of this clearly affects the teachers involved, I want to make clear that this discrimination dramatically affects our children’s future, and hence our nation’s future.

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Thought of the Day: CTE Teachers can be Highly Qualified in Core Academic Subjects

One other hurdle that CTE teachers have to teaching academic subjects, beyond the misunderstanding of what their credential allows, and also the bad policy of not allowing them to gain supplementary authorizations, is that many administrators and CTE teachers may not realize that California Designated Subjects credential holders can be recognized as “Highly Qualified” by federal/state standards, which originally came from No Child Left Behind.  (I should note my personal opinion that the Highly Qualified designation or lack thereof does not necessarily mean one truly is qualified or not, as it is clear that there are many Type I and Type II errors that can occur, but none the less, getting this designation is an important legality for schools to keep federal funding.)

UPDATE: Since writing this original post, I have discovered that in California CTE teachers who are teaching applied academics are automatically considered Highly Qualified, as I will be posting about soon.   But for anyone who is interested in knowing more about how to potentially get the Highly Qualified designation, I have kept this article online.

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