Thursday, November 28, 2013

This Thanksgiving it was 48 & a Couple Dozen Hells Angels

This morning's Thanksgiving run started a beautiful morning. Near 8 AM and the sunny temps just a smidge above 50 degrees.  The route; the usual. The mission: to informally assess the state of the homeless situation & see if there are any improvements by running about Golden Gate park and counting. Turns out, not so much.  This is a non-scientific assessment, but from my view it seems like the solutions to the homeless situation appear to be as static as the population. Can we expect to get a different result by doing the same things over and over again?

As it seems it has happened post "Care-not-cash," it seemed like the bulk of the Park was devoid of homeless folks. They tend to gravitate to the periphery, into the neighborhoods as well, and the lesser parks (like Buena Vista).   The first three folks I spied were camped out near the old firehouse on Oak, tucked into an approach to some one's garage. Looked like they had just gotten up as they were packing up their stuff, perhaps to move on.

The largest clump of homeless folks were, as in years past, at the intersection of Haight and Stanyan.  I'm sure I missed a few, as I tried to spy as many as I could, but there had to be about a dozen folks congregated just east of the frog pond.  I'm not sure what draws folks to that location, but it might be that there's a McDonalds across the street - of course, I'm assuming they are not shopping at the Whole Foods - also across the street on the north side of Haight. 

There is always a random assortment of folks wandering up and down Haight street. This year, I was serenaded by a homeless woman, who was singing just near the "Listen to this Wall" corner.  She was putting some energy into it.  Seemed happy.  I yelled "Sing it sister," as I ran by.  Not sure she took that the right way.

Round about Masonic, along Haight was the usual gaggle of about two dozen Hells Angels.  I'm guessing as I lost count trying to navigate and run through the throng of tattooed, tough looking, leather wearing men.

Anyway, that's the news that's fit to post:  The official count - 48 Homeless & about 2 dozen Hells Angels.  Improvements? You be the judge.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Duration of a Course is the Wrong Question When You Want To Measure The ROI of any given Pedagogy

Most of the time, the character limits on social media are a boon to creativity, but occasionally a post spurs a longer thought.  This is my response to this post on shortening the duration of course offerings

Pedagogically, I'm a fan of a traditional semester which allows ample time for complex ideas to steep in the brain. There's room for making mistakes & recovery in a safe environment and invention along the pathways to learning.  Even so, that doesn't mean we need to rigidly adhere to a formulaic structure for what can be construed as high quality teaching. Unfortunately - or fortunately - the debate as to what constitutes high quality teaching is old and unresolved even among professionals in the field. 

Really, delivery mode (or duration) isn't altogether important, whereas understanding how to prove maximized ROI (outcomes of learning) in any format is the trick.  I'm not sure counting numbers on any given MOOC via digital anaylitics applied in the back end - or even measurement of numbers of people who pass any given quiz or test in swift fashion - is going to suffice as proof whatever delivery mode works. 

The irksome portion of this conversations rests in the connection between teaching and learning.  That is, teaching can be fantastically optimized and superior, above all reproach, but learning hinges completely on the learner doing the learning.  Simply put, you could be the greatest teacher since Euclid drawing diagrams in the sand, but if a learner/student is disinclined to learn, your ROI can still be zero.

As one wise man once said - not sure whom - "Education in advance of need, is folly," which may ultimately be the downfall of modern prerequisites, unless of course, it is the learner who understands the need to master whatever subject to achieve her or his own aims.  Perhaps we should reset the whole conversation in terms of the separation between "wants" and "needs" and roll from there.