[hackerspaces] Hackerspace Education

Arclight arclight at gmail.com
Thu Nov 15 19:47:35 CET 2012


I think you hit on one of the key concepts here: The key is that you
are actually doing it.

We have a sort of "informal education economy" going on at our spaces.
The important thing is that people are showing up and filling a need
that isn't being met by other outlets.

While there is value in having instructors with the best degrees and
classes with months of preparation invested, it's really not necessary
when you're teaching something practical to a self-motivated audience.

Schools and colleges are the product of a lot of different forces that
we are not subject to. Unfortunately, a lot of them are set up  to
maximize revenues from government funding and student loans. Like many
other trades, they also try to protect their industry through very
high credential requirements for instructors, monopolies on
publishing, political lobbying, etc.

Fortunately, a lot of the high-tech industry is run by non-academics
and smaller companies who just want to get the job done and don't care
much about credential culture.  We do need "pure science" people in
our world, but most of what is done every day in the world revolves
around "applied knowledge."

This is where we're strong. Hackers are all about applied knowledge.
We get it. Universities often don't.

We recently had a guy show up looking to hire an entry-level
electronics technician. His complaint was that the students and recent
graduates from our local university no basic lab skills. After a
multi-thousand hour instructional program, many had never picked up a
soldering iron or been exposed to any of the "non-ideal" problems he
needed fixed.

Does a person really need to invest 250 hours in an intro Java
programming class? Or could they get to a better place with 20 hours
of basic instruction and then self-paced work on a project they want
to build?

I think we should also get past the idea what what we're doing is
somehow sub-standard compared to regular education. If a Linux
administration, TIG welding, or robotics class you're offering can get
someone the skills they want, then it really doesn't matter if it was
taught in an amateurish way on a folding table.

If they got what they wanted in a reasonable amount of time without a
lot of busy work and needless detours, then it was a more effective
class than they could get elsewhere. If charging money for this
service means more classes and more satisfied people, then by all
means go for it!

Anyway, this is my rant for the day. :)

23b Shop
Fullerton, CA

On Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 5:58 AM, Lisha Sterling <lishevita at gmail.com> wrote:
> I just want to clarify about my comments about the 3 advanced Python users
> at the Intro to Python class... Had they been helping the newbie learn, that
> would have been awesome. The reason that one class went so badly was because
> they sort of took over the class and turned it into a masterclass for
> themselves, leaving the one person who showed up for the class as listed
> completely in the lurch.
> I have had wonderful situations in classes, workshops and lectures where
> some of the attendees were more advanced than the material being delivered,
> and those people were helpful and supportive of the learning of the other
> attendees. When that happens it's great.
> Also, in respect of the pay issue, I make a portion of my living by teaching
> these classes. I do expect students to help each other, and I do expect to
> sometimes be completely out-shined by an attendee who knows more than I do
> on a subject. The first is the case always, no matter where I am teaching.
> The second is simply part of the culture of hackerspaces. The classroom
> teachers and professors that I respect most in more traditional settings are
> all about student collaboration and facilitating opportunities for students
> to learn from each other. I don't believe that this is a lack of
> professionalism, but rather the height of it.
> - Lisha
> On Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 1:46 PM, Lisha Sterling <lishevita at gmail.com> wrote:
>> While most of the classes I teach are on subjects that I already know
>> quite well, I have taught some classes where I was just a step ahead of most
>> of the students in the class. I come to all classes with an attitude that I
>> am a co-learner, though, so I assume that in any class there is likely to be
>> some new question or challenge that I haven't dealt with before.
>> In August I taught a series of classes at Jigsaw Renaissance in Seattle.
>> The first few classes were from a series that I'd already taught many times
>> (HTML in one hour, CSS in one hour, Javascript in slightly more than  one
>> hour). Then, the students in the class asked specifically for a Python
>> class. Thing is, I had only used Python a few times and am not well versed
>> in it at all. So, I went off, studied and organized the material in a
>> logical way, and showed up to class to teach and learn more with the
>> students. It worked out pretty well while working with the newbies. (The one
>> day that 3 advanced Python programmers showed up to the class that was
>> billed as "Intro to Python" was horrific, though. The 3 men played "look how
>> far I can pee" with code, and the one person who was actually new to Python
>> mostly sat there with the look of a deer caught in headlights. I think that
>> if that happened again, I'd send the advanced users off to another
>> room/area/table to play by themselves and I'd teach the course to the one
>> newbie who showed up to the class as listed.)
>> For someone who is just teaching a one off class, I suggest just going at
>> it in the same way you do when you share your knowledge with a group of
>> friends. You don't have to be overly precise, you don't have to be mistake
>> free or have a prepared speech that goes for the full time of the class.
>> Decide what the goal of the class is, what people should come away knowing
>> or having accomplished. Figure out the steps to reach that goal, and then do
>> that with your class. I believe that it's best if you can do something hands
>> on, and I also think it's best if you can model the activity for the class.
>> If you make a mistake while you are modeling the activity, that's great!
>> You've just modeled graceful failure, and that's one of the most important
>> lessons of all.
>> For someone who teaches lots of classes (or wants to teach lots of
>> classes), I recommend developing a style of your own. Spend some time
>> reading and/or listening to educators you respect talking about how they run
>> classes. Build up a basic format (or two) for classes and write your class
>> notes for each new class or workshop based on that.
>> As an example, I usually teach sysadmin and programming classes with my
>> computer projected onto a screen and everyone in the class working on their
>> own laptops. I'll explain something, show examples, and then have students
>> try it out for themselves while I also do the activity at the same time up
>> on the screen. Then, if people have questions or ideas about a different way
>> to do something, they dictate and I try it on the screen so that we can all
>> discuss the results. Then I teach the next concept, rinse, repeat.
>> - Lisha
>> On Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 8:32 AM, Jerry Isdale <isdale at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hackerspaces quite often have classes, right?
>>> sometimes these are for members only, but many spaces teach public
>>> classes as a revenue stream (and to build community).
>>> but hackers are generally not teachers and teaching, especially teaching
>>> the public can be difficult.
>>> How have you prepared for teaching a class?
>>> Have you tried teaching when you were only a bit more advanced than the
>>> students?
>>> Sometimes this is necessary when starting a space - bootstrapping member
>>> knowledge!
>>> Jerry Isdale
>>> isdale at gmail.com
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Discuss mailing list
>>> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
>>> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>> --
>> http://www.alwayssababa.com/
> --
> http://www.alwayssababa.com/
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

More information about the Discuss mailing list