Ed Wesly's TIE Portfolio




Philosophy Statement

Professional Library

Standards Matrix



After surviving over three decades in the field, I must have developed a philosophy of education that has contributed to my longevity. Some of it I stumbled upon myself, in some cases I was inspired by a mentor, and in a lot of ways the TIE program opened up my eyes.


Short Educational Resume

My commitment to the profession began in high school, as I applied and received an Illinois State Teacher’s Scholarship, which gave a free tuition ride to a state school if you promised to teach for 2 out of the 3 years following graduation. I sort of stumbled into becoming a Math teacher as I mentioned to my high school counselor that I had read that computers could make images, so their reflex reaction was “if you want to get into computers you need to know math.” Try telling students that nowadays!


Since I was into photography, I took all the photo classes that were offered at the University of Illinois. I had enough hours to get a minor in the teaching of photography, but the college academic advisor asked if they had to fill out the paperwork, would it be useful, for where would I teach photography? I had no pat answer, so the paperwork was never filed, but ironically my first teaching gig immediately after college was for District 214 Continuing Education, night school non-degree for fun classes, and it was almost two years before I landed a junior high math teaching deal. The scholarship had produced a glut of teachers at that time, and it is no longer offered.


Rant on contemporary education

But it should be revived! I sort of live in an ivory tower of education, but when I hear stories from my sons and their friends, along with the teachers I have met thanks to the TIE program, classrooms are way over-crowded. My ideal would be to cut classes in at least half, 12 to 16 students in each. That would double the amount of teachers.


Before I continue on my rant on elementary education, why would I, a college professor, be calling the shots for K-12 curriculum? Because of UbD! Here are some examples of what would I like to see in students before they get to my level.


Then the rooms could be made smaller and more intimate for better communication. This would create jobs rebuilding the educational infrastructure. Put air conditioning in the schools so they can run all year long. Of course scheduling family vacations may be a problem, but students will progress quicker without the usual review of what was forgotten last year that typically starts off the fall semester.


Make the groups more homogenous so that the more advanced students don’t get bogged down by the less capable, who would them have more attention paid to them in their own level playing field. Mastery of basic language and math skills are extremely important to produce a productive populace. Everyone is capable of learning how to communicate and calculate and problem solve, it just takes some longer than others. (Well, I might be ignoring some that are one the extreme left of the bell-shaped curve, but for the majority, we all could be held to an attainable standard.)


Some subject areas may need to be revamped. Reading will remain the most important, as that is key to communication not just with the past but with the computer. Phonics or sight-reading? The usual complaint about phonics is that it is very time-consuming. But with automated computer drills, that argument falls by the way side.


Writing follows along, with children learning printing, so they can make marks similar to those on the monitor, but instead of graduating to cursive penmanship, the next course becomes typing.


Some old fogeys might bemoan the loss of this personal art form, but why? My eye hand coordination, always spastic, has become so bad lately that I can barely read my own Palmer method. Cursive was invented because it is a faster way to record words than printing, with the connected letters, but most communication is done through the paperless office of the future which is happening now! This may not be such a bad thing, especially if the majority of the jobs of the future require communication with a machine. A danger of typing is that some students might submit work in text talk. But language is constantly morphing, so it might just be a matter of time that some of the economization of characters might become standard operating procedure in the future.


Some subjects lend themselves to WebQuests and whatever other Internet based endeavors. Geography and history could be taught more effectively without books for example, but there must be a balance from the virtual world and the real world of the self. Music and art have been proven to build intelligence and provide an emotional balance. Students of all ages need to use their bodies and develop them in Physical Education classes, but they also need to develop manipulative skills by shop type classes; maybe not the dangerous wood shop, but Lego-like experiences.


Face to face socializing is also important, so there has to be a balance between real people and virtual ones. These types of activities would promote that through collaboration. Another type of class that needs to be taught, for lack of a better word, is etiquette. How does one interface with strangers? Just becoming bold enough to ask for directions is anathema for some.


Where would all the funding for all this school and technology infrastructure come from? Anyone hear of “Charity begins at home?” Why are we bombing countries half way around the world when our own streets are in such disrepair? Why are we giving our tax dollars to people who don’t necessarily like us? Let’s give education in this country a shot in the arm!


It seems that there is a concerted effort in this country to keep the population stupid, ignorant, and superstitious to keep the proletariat under control. By not giving every student the attention they may need to master a subject, they accept being a C or D person. Or just tune out education completely. By teaching to a test, the gamut of knowledge is narrowed, keeping everyone ignorant of exploring critical thinking and why the world is as screwed up as it is. And of course religious fanatics of all persuasions use emotion to legislate morality; if it’s a sin in your religion/superstition, don’t commit it; but don’t deny everyone else that pleasure or necessity. (Same sex marriage/sodomy and contraception/abortion are mainly what I am talking about in particular.)


How is society changing in terms relevant to educational technology is a two edged sword; let’s examine some of the cases where it is possibly not for the better. I know it could be considered heresy to say that in this Technology In Education department, but in many cases it is a distraction from the real problems of learning. Googling everything comes up with some answer, which may be erroneous. Although Google, Wikipedia, etc. are altruistic at heart, and give some real information, we could possibly see history being re-written a la Orwell’s 1984 with this dynamically changing content. Mis-information as well as information can and does go viral.


As mentioned above, it seems that cursive writing could be on the way out thanks to computers. Typing is the wave of the future.


Ed’s Personal Educational Aphorisms

“Be sensitive to confusions.” Dr. Peter Braunfeld espoused this in MAT 344, Real Analysis. On the first day of class he asked if anyone here were not in the Math Teacher Curriculum raise their hand, no one did, so he said then to take back that expensive differential equation book because he was gong to teach us how to teach math, in a somewhat Socratic style. It was probably the best education class that I had taken at the U of I, and this saying of his I still remember.


Its influence continues to this day, as I am preparing a lecture or lesson, trying to remember the stumbling blocks that may have slowed me down when first encountering the concept, and to make the exposition clearer. It also helps when writing test questions, especially multiple choice ones, to insert wrong answers. Sometimes it hurts to think of all the wrong tracks that might derail the student’s train of thought, as it might not be in the direction that my brain is wired! But thanks to the Foundations classes in the TIE program, I have gained new insight into how adult learners are different from younger learners, plus the different styles of learners, which help plan the lessons not for the lowest common denominator but to appeal to all of them sitting in the classroom. Something for everyone.


On the last day of class, a review session on the day before the final, Dr. Braunfeld offered to buy the first round at a campus bar! There was an uproar, like how can we be successful on the final, but he insisted if we had been paying attention and “internalizing” the information, we should all be passing the test no matter how hung over we would be! Well maybe not that drastic, but just enough drink to take the edge off.


Which brings me to another slogan, “internalizing the information”, which must have been repeated in the Ed Psych classes often enough to carve itself into my memory banks. This idea, pioneered by Vygotsky, whose name I don’t seem to recall from that era, but eventually got clued into him, see my TIE 575 blog, is extremely important. My interpretation of the concept is that once you have mastered the concept it seems second nature, you don’t have to consciously rethink the problem; your sub-conscious has already done it for you, quicker than you can say meta-cognition, a term learned in EPS 541. For instance, once you have learned how to focus a camera, you instinctively learn what part to grab and in which direction to rotate it to get to the desired result; the body knows better on what to do than the thinking mind. Plus he had also described a phenomenon that my blue collar bohemian-artist drinking buddies describe as the non-verbal state of creativity, where you design or create works without using words.


I utilize this internalization concept when I teach the TEC 159 class, Technical Foundation, at HCD. The premise of the class is to bring all Digital Photography students up to the same speed on Apple computers. Many of them have experience with computers, but mainly in the PC world. It is a rare occasion when I encounter students who are totally computer illiterate; digital technology has infiltrated all schools to an amazing degree. Either that or they get their skills at home.


But it seems that the school are dominated by the Windows PC world, and most students are Mac naïve. Those who are Mac savvy have the opportunity to bypass this class with a proficiency test. And it also has been debated about switching to a “Boot Camp” of a few intensive days to make the switch to the Mac, or even to have some on-line individualized training to bring all students up to par.


But back to internalizing instruction. The ideal situation for image editing is for the designer to have the mouse in one hand to cursor through the image, while the other hand is on the keyboard and swapping tools, selecting, etc., with shortcut keys. I have designed exercises that might be considered tedious due to the repetitive nature of the task, but that forces the student to give up moving the mouse to the top toolbar and dropping down menus. By the 6th or 7th iteration, the students will embrace the shortcuts to cut, copy, or paste, or to toggle through the tools.


As an example, there is an assignment where students make 20 nametags from a blank nametag template, and arrange them in a pile. They have to pick the Brush or Pencil tool, shortcut = b, to write a name or saying, enage the Hue circle (ctrl+u) to change its color, then copy (ctrl+c) it from the master document and paste (ctrl+v) it into the destination, then use the Move tool (plain v) to position it, then rotate it with the Free Transform tool (ctrl+t). After 20 of these operations, it is internalized and when they do similar work in other projects they don’t have to verbalize what needs to be done but their hands know what to do.


Inside out engineering is a concept that applies to how I design I design optical (holographic) systems. You know what you want at the output end, know what you are given at the input end, and figure out what goes in-between. It just makes sense to plan some things non-linearly, like editing, but certainly not in exposition. My genius in independently developing this workflow was vindicated in all the attention being paid to the UbD (Understanding by Design philosophy, I love it when they mix up capitals and lower case in the acronyms!) framework that we had seen in TIE 535.


I used the UbD process (unknowingly, since I thought I had invented it myself) in designing the TEC 159 class mentioned above. I discussed with my colleague who teaches the classes in the following semesters what concepts he would like the students to understand before they got to his level, and I invented projects like the one described previously to familiarize and drill the skills into their heads and hands.


Another example of my implementation of UbD was when a basic math class was to be added to the HCD curriculum. I sent out a poll to all instructors via e-mail, and personally interviewed many, and asked what math skill they felt the students should know before they got to their level.


Not so surprisingly the basic four operations (add, subtract, multiply and divide) with fractions were at the top of the list! Although American schools seem to be training students well in the binary digits (computers) we are lacking in basic computation and problem solving. The main reason for teaching fraction skills is that this country still pig-headedly has refused to metrify. The Interior Designers life would be much easier if they had to make metric measurements! I remind them that life would be simpler if it were only decimals they had to deal with, and if they ever run into politicians pressing the flesh on the campaign trail, ask them what they are doing to relieve us of the burden of inches, feet, and fractional computation. I do! Then maybe fractional computation will go the way of cursive writing.


An educator whose name I do remember from that era was Piaget, with his 3 or 4 stages of learning. When I teach optics, considering that is it a classroom of image makers and not Optical engineers, cut out the math part.


“Learning is by doing!” Dr. Tung Jeong, (who always informs anyone meeting him for the first time to call him by his nickname, TJ, unless you’re older than him, then you can call him Sunne, like Sonny.) It was thanks to him that my life was changed by witnessing him demonstrate how to make holograms in front of a group of teachers at a Society for Photographic Education (SPE) conference. See my TIE 585 Digital Storytelling movie for details.


He would conduct summer holography workshops at his home base, Lake Forest College, (and I became the lab manager there eventually) and he would advise the students to make mistakes, as that is a learning experience, and will be able to appreciate success much more. He had planned a variety of exercises to get hands-on experience, making the concept internalized.


“Demo or die” is another saying that I picked up from another holographic guru, the inventor of the white light transmission hologram found on credit cards, Dr. Stephen Benton. It may not be directly attributed to him, as it is a common slogan amongst engineers, wherein they are constantly putting on dog and pony shows to continue their funding, but I have adopted it as my motto when teaching my basic preparations for Technical Foundation, Introduction to Mac’s, History of Photography, and Physics of Light. I believe that seeing a process or device in action in real life is key to understanding it. It is different from the hands-on approach above, but is applicable when the pace needs to be more vigorous and the skill of the demonstration doesn’t necessarily need to be passed on to the student.


To me, this is technology in use, but maybe not digital technology. There was a physics curriculum adopted in the late ‘50’s, early ‘60’s, Physical Science Study Committee, and it relied on homemade Rube Goldberg contraptions for the students to experience concepts like acceleration. A lot of times, or maybe even most of the time, the devices didn’t work well if at all. But the hands-on experience of wrestling the contrary contraptions into submission was in itself a very useful learning experience.


But digital technological simulations distance the learner from these hands-on learning experiences. Craftsmanship is disappearing. Sometimes the simulation might demonstrate something that cannot be physically done or is demonstrated erroneously. Simulations cannot be the of the cheesy YouTube quality, but well-detailed for a satisfying simulacrum.


“The more you know, the more you can do.” I really can’t remember when or where I picked this one up at, but I think it might have been from my mom. My blue collar parents’ generation was one that aspired to a college degree, because of the belief of higher paying jobs and better standards of living. They were always encouraging me to read and investigate stuff, so I investigated stuff that I thought was cool, toy trains, models, electricity, photography. And my natural curiosity got me to delve deeper and deeper into these topics, which pays off in my teaching different science subjects in art schools. By having a big picture of the big idea, as been developed in so many TIE courses, I can fine tune my lessons to the students.


“Make my fund the P-Funk, I like my funk uncut.” These bons mots from George Clinton are to energize the teaching experience. I need to be psyched up, to be at the top of the game, ready for anything, giving it my all like a vaudeville performer, no holds barred, when the troops walk in, so that maybe my wacky energy will discourage passivity and napping.


What must be my motivating factor is that I must have swallowed the “Make the world a better place to live in” pill as there seems to be no better reason to be subjecting myself to all the abuse of being in the field. But I persist, feeling not that somebody has to do it, but that I can do it better than most others.