Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for the ‘education’ tag

Reasons and Methods for California School Districts to Transfer Adult Education Services to Adult-Serving Charter Schools

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I just finished the paper “Reasons and Methods for California School Districts to Transfer Adult Education Services to Adult-Serving Charter Schools” which details why and how a California Adult School should develop an adult-serving charter school.  I would truly appreciate feedback and peer-review of this document, so I can improve it.   You can find the currently published working paper at http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2219703

Here is the abstract of the paper:

With Governor Brown’s current proposal to transfer all funding for California adult-education services from school districts to the Community College System, School Districts and their Adult Schools should strongly consider opening an Adult-Serving Charter School instead, which can allow many current programs to retain state apportionment funding and potentially continue to bring revenue to the school district.  Adult-serving charter schools do require following different laws and regulations than Adult Schools follow, but with adaptation, most programs can still stay in place, and most students can be served.  Further, by adding a postsecondary “sister school” to the adult-serving charter school, adult students who can’t be served by the charter school can be helped.

Written by Jacob Walker

February 17th, 2013 at 5:55 am

Systemic Change at Twin Rivers

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Two of the challenges with the world and trying to change it for the better are:

  1. Most long term change comes from changing systems, not from changing people working within the same rules.
  2. Changes to systems rarely have only positive results, but instead for any action there are a million reactions, and unintended consequences are nearly inevitable.

With that being said, there is the electoral question of whether it is better to have representatives voted in for a specific geographic area, such as how it is common to do in the United States, or to have them in theory being for an area, but elected in by a big group, or to elect them in by party affiliation as most parliamentary systems do.

Twin Rivers is currently debating between the first 2, as can be read about in the Sac Observer.  I am not really sure what the unintended consequences might be of having direct area representation, but currently I’m leaning towards this, because I think it does have a good chance of improving voter participation, and it also would limit the problem of one geographic area having more say than another in an election.   What I mean by this, is that right now Rio Linda voters, tend to vote more than Del Paso heights voters, and so the public control over the board is generally uneven.

Will election reform be part of the Twin Rivers Spring?  The voters need to get involved to make this very important choice.  And I’m very interested in hearing comments about the unintended consequences that could happen from changing the election system in the district.

On a similar note, this year also has had calls for change about the redistricting of areas that trustees represent for Twin Rivers.

Written by Jacob Walker

March 28th, 2012 at 6:31 am

This Week is Open Education Week

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I just found out today when I visited Creative Commons to get a tag for a license for a PowerPoint I was creating, that this week is Open Education Week.  Open Education is absolutely amazing.  Not only has there been community driven content being released for free to the world, such as Wikipedia, but major universities such as U.C. Berkely, U.C. Irvine, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford are releasing full audio and/or video of many of their courses online for free.

If you are interested in finding out more information about how to become part of this amazing movement, I recommend visiting the website for Open Education Week and checking out their webinars.

Written by Jacob Walker

March 4th, 2012 at 7:37 pm

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Lesson Study with Teaching Password Cracking Calculator

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I had a much better lesson this week on teaching my students about how password security works, and how to calculate how secure a password is, using Microsoft Excel.  I would like to post more about this soon, but before the details in my memory fade more, this is the basic process I went through, that worked:

  1. Discussion first about how would they hack a password
  2. Go through lower case letter example first
  3. Give pre-filled out handout of Excel
  4. Use partly filled in saved copy to speed up data entry
  5. Have teams come up with a password in the end, and test security with calculator
  6. Possibly next time, we should have a contest within the groups

Written by Jacob Walker

January 15th, 2012 at 7:08 am

SEVEN Fund Essay Competition Submission: Virtual Onshoring

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The following essay was submitted to the SEVEN fund for a scholarship contest.  The purpose of the Essay was to give the President of Rwanda policy recommendations about how to fulfill his vision of improving entrepreneurship within his country.

The Vision

Your Excellency, I understand your mental model and vision. You recognize that Rwanda is an equal player in the global marketplace. And you, as chief entrepreneur, are building a future where Rwanda’s brand identity is no longer associated with genocide, but rather innovation, talent, potential, and opportunity.

You recognize that in the 21st century, success will have less to do with whether a nation is landlocked, but more to do with whether it is mindlocked into a limited mindset. Furthermore, you understand that competition is one of the best strategies to help change the mindset of a nation and a people, realizing their true value and capability. And you are engineering the structure of the government to give all Rwandans the opportunity to compete.

Using ICT to facilitate Global Virtual Existence

Your Vision 2010 already incorporates Information & Communication Technology (ICT) as a major part of its strategy. CITATION Gov06 l 1033 (1)<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> ICT – and specifically the Internet – is the cornerstone to realizing your full vision.

But to do this, it is critical to have an accurate mental model of what ICT can do. I emphasize this because in the U.S. there were many people who blindly thought the Internet changed everything. Many businesses had inaccurate mental models, which led to the “dot com bust”. CITATION Jen04 l 1033  (2) In reality, there are only certain things that the Internet changes; the most important being the fact that the Internet enables global virtual existence.

The Internet allows anyone to virtually exist throughout its entire structure. Marshall McLuhan talked about the media being an extension of human beings. CITATION McL64 l 1033  (3) ICT brings this concept to nearly full capability, because with the Internet, any person or business that is online has no apparent geographic difference to anyone else.

For example, someone in America, Europe or Japan who goes to a website owned by a Rwandan has no more or less a sense of a geographic difference than if they were on a website owned by someone in their native country. The only sense of geographic distance is created by the content itself, which is created by the minds of the content creator.

This mental model of Global Virtual Existence is neither well recognized nor well understood, and has only started to be exploited competitively. Those who truly understand this concept and utilize it will gain a major competitive edge over those who don’t. And thus, this needs to be a major part of Rwanda’s strategy.

Virtual Onshoring: A Seventh Pillar for ICT

Your Vision 2010 already uses ICT to support six pillars: Good Governance, Human Resources Development, the Private Sector, Infrastructure, Regional Integration, and more Productive
Agriculture. CITATION Tow07 l 1033 (4) By using the mental model of Global Virtual Existence, your vision of entrepreneurship naturally leads to a seventh pillar: Using ICT to support Virtual Onshoring.

“Virtual Onshoring”, as coined and defined by this essay, is the ability of an entrepreneur anywhere in the world, to exist virtually in America, Europe, Japan or anywhere the Internet touches, and to do business in those prosperous markets without ever needing to step foot upon their shores.

Evolving Away from Offshoring

In many ways, the process of Virtual Onshoring is the next natural evolutionary step of Offshoring. Offshoring of knowledge-based jobs, such as technical support, engineering, programming, transcription, etc, from more-developed economies to lesser-developed economies has paid large dividends to the developing nations involved. But Offshoring has become a somewhat saturated market. Those nations that were the first to get in already have a large market share, and those who enter that market now will generally need to compete by selling their services cheaper. Thus it has become more of a commodity market, leaning in the direction of lower wages, in essence “competing to see which country can stay poorest the longest”. (This does not mean there aren’t any opportunities still left in the Offshoring market, but I do not recommend it is a major place to focus on.)

Evolving to Virtual Onshoring

Virtual Onshoring works by using the same technologies that have supported inexpensive Offshoring (primarily the Internet) but in reverse. Virtual Onshoring can work because there are many technologies now available on the Internet to Americans that by the very nature of the Internet can also be used by Rwandans. A Rwandan entrepreneur can now virtually be in the United States by:

  • Obtaining a “.com” web and email address (approx $100/year) CITATION Sit l 1033 (5)
  • Using IP Telephony to have a U.S. phone number  (approx $50/year) CITATION Mag l 1033 (6)
  • Using IP Fax technology to have a U.S. fax number (approx $50/year) CITATION eFa l 1033 (7)
  • Using a mailing service to have a U.S. Physical Street Address (price varies)

The above-mentioned tools would put Rwandans on an equal playing field with entrepreneurs in other countries. For about $300 per year (the costs listed above, plus other misc. expenses), any Rwandan connected to the Internet can tap into the entire U.S. market. And there are additional opportunities on the Internet that allow entrepreneurs to tap in with very low starting capital. For example, there are now services on the Internet such as Cafe Press and Zazzle that allow custom product creation and distribution, with low risk and only potential profit.

These are only two examples. I am sure a Rwandan, through the human spirit of entrepreneurship, will take this idea far beyond what is presented here.

Policy Recommendations

Educational Policy

Since your vision centers around helping people expand their minds, we must first focus on educational policy. It is important to understand that education extends beyond the classroom, that it encompasses all areas of knowledge dissemination and learning. Thus all of “public relations” and communication are critical components of the education system.

Rwandans need to learn a systems-based approach and a systems-based view of the world. This will allow them to be able to comprehend how they can do Virtual Onshoring or other entrepreneurial endeavors. A systems-based approach will allow them to understand the new mental models of Information.

Rwandans need to learn the tools of technology that will allow them to compete in the markets that Virtual Onshoring opens up to them. Rwandans also need to learn how to harness their cultural heritage and how to export this to the United States. Since the lowest cost/highest profit opportunities involve media content, the Rwandan Culture Capital of art and music can become an economic asset.

Further, the education can not simply be pedantic; it must also include open-ended curriculum that challenges people to think for themselves. Education must be less about teaching specific tasks, and more about getting people to question their assumptions, and to look at the world in new ways. By doing this they may find the creative methods of using the tool of Virtual Onshoring to bring prosperity to themselves, their families, and to Rwanda.

Policies to Build Trust

Beyond all this, it must be recognized that traditional “public relations” is the most essential educational component, and one that must be undertaken by the Rwandan government if it is to succeed in the global marketplace. For Virtual Onshoring, it is critical that people in the developed markets associate Rwanda with reliability, stability, and a good reputation. Other countries must learn that it is safe to deal with Rwandan entrepreneurs. For economic prosperity to occur, Rwanda must make this the number one priority because without trust, there will be no business. And with the prevalence of con-artist spam that originates from Africa CITATION Mik03 l 1033 (8), there is already a widespread lack of trust that needs to be overcome.

It is also critical that systems are in place for Rwandan entrepreneurs to have the motivation to develop and merit the trust that will be tentatively given by customers in developed markets. As we have seen recently in China, when one company breaks the trust to their customers, people tend to lose trust in the whole national brand identity. CITATION Som07 l 1033  (9)


Banking Policy

Banks are essential to Virtual Onshoring, and to all entrepreneurial endeavors because (a) They provide loans and needed capital; (b) They allow businesses to safely store money; and (c) They allow money to be transferred from anywhere in the world.

It is important to recognize the mistakes that other countries have made and to take measures to avoid making those same mistakes. These must include setting in place regulation to stop banks from self-detrimental practices.

Rwanda’s basic financial structure should also facilitate and promote microloans to entrepreneurs. I estimate most entrepreneurs can start a Virtual Onshoring business for a capital outlay of $300, and be able to recoup their costs within a year after selling only 60 products. But I realize that with a per capita median income of only $260 CITATION Bur08 l 1033  (10), $300 is an extremely large percentage of the average person’s income. This is why microloans are critical.

The most important banking policy centers on the transference of money to Rwanda. Rwandan banks must be able to offer affordable methods of transferring money from the U.S. and other markets to Rwandan entrepreneurs. Rwandans must be able to use services such as PayPal to transfer money to their bank account.

Wireless Regulation Policy

The NICI 2010 plan for Rwanda states that you need to reduce the cost of wireless access. This is key to Rwanda’s ICT success. But a comprehensive strategy on how to achieve this needs to be laid out in detail.

To build an effective strategy, we need an accurate mental model: The Internet has been likened to the “Information Superhighway”, but in fact it is more like the whole transportation system for Information. Wireless is more like a highway system. Just as nations have discovered that it is more important to regulate how people drive on public roads, instead of on who controls the roads, the same principle applies to the regulation of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Much of the electromagnetic spectrum needs to have the digital protocols regulated, not the spectrum itself. And the development of smarter protocols needs to be encouraged; These must allow mesh-network technology to become far better than it is today, by providing smart communication that uses different transmitters and receivers to increase or decrease power “on the fly” to optimize bandwidth usage. The goal is to minimize interference with other transmitters. These “smart” protocols are important because I believe all computer protocols must be designed to inherently preclude issues that can lead to a tragedy of the commons.


Technology Tariff & Recycling Policy

While it will ultimately be important for Rwanda to have a vibrant technology manufacturing sector, protectionism needs to be avoided at this time.  In order to “leap-frog” the economy with Virtual Onshoring, it is critical that entrepreneurs have access to the tools they need at a low cost. Given that the most important tools are computer systems capable of connecting to the Internet, there should be no tariffs on any internet appliances (computers or other technology capable of connecting to the Internet).

Further, it is recommended that Rwanda takes advantage of the glut of “older” computer systems that people in developed markets are trying to dispose of. Many older systems are quite capable of connecting to the Internet, and by developing a recycling sector, Rwandan entrepreneurs can gain internet computer technology at an extremely low price point.

Conclusion

Your Excellency, having been immersed in both business and computers since the inception of the Internet, I am excited to realize what potential Virtual Onshoring has for transforming Rwanda’s economy and standard of living. I am happy to discuss any thoughts, concerns, or questions you might have. Whether or not I win the scholarship, I hope you will strongly consider using what I’ve presented here about Virtual Onshoring to make significant improvements in Rwanda and the lives of its people. Intelligent policies that inherently foster competition are not only crucial to improving the human condition, but are also a vital steppingstone to helping us improve as a human species.

References

BIBLIOGRAPHY
l 1033 1. Government of Rwanda. The NICI-2010 Plan. 2006.

2. Reingold, Jennifer. What We Learned In The New Economy. Fast Company. 2004, 80.

3. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media. s.l. : University of California, 1964. ISBN 041525549X.

4. Towards 2020: ICT in Action in Rwanda. The World Bank, 2007.

5. SiteGround. [Online] http://www.siteground.com.

6. MagicJack. [Online] http://www.magicjack.com.

7. eFax. [Online] http://www.efax.com.

8. Mikkelson, Barbara. Nigerian Scam. Snopes. [Online] September 6, 2003. http://www.snopes.com/crime/fraud/nigeria.asp.

9. Sommerville, Quentin. ‘Brand China’ at risk after toy recall . BBC News. 2007.

10. Bureau of African Affairs. Background Note: Rwanda. U.S. Department of State. [Online] U.S. Government, June 2008. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2861.htm.

Written by Jacob Walker

December 3rd, 2008 at 11:35 pm

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Words and Self-Marketing

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I have been working on my "tag-lines" and "auto responses" about what I tell people when they ask about me, like what I do, or about what my goals in life are.

First, I am no longer saying that I’m a teacher, I say I’m an instructor. It is funny how these two different words have different emotional connotations, and change what people think of me.

Also, I am now trying out using the following small paragraph about my goals with my education:

I am a graduate student with NOVA Southeastern University studying for a Masters in International Education, and plan continue to get my Doctorate. My ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to co-develop an improved school system as part of the Effective Education Project.

I don’t want to turn people off to the notion of building a new school system, so I think the notion of developing an improved school system is a little more within people’s paradigms.

What do you think? Any suggestions for improvement?

Written by Jacob Walker

November 27th, 2008 at 8:01 pm

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Credit and the Underlying Issue of the Desire for Instantaneous Gratification

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As part of working towards my Masters degree and the Effective Education Project, I need to hone my writing skills and pay for my education.  Scholarships offer the perfect opportunity to do both, and to help me to think more deeply about a topic to develop a philosophy and mental model.

SPENDonLIFE is sponsoring a scholarship where you write a blog entry about credit or identity theft.  I am intrigued by one of their rules, which requires me to encourage you to also join the contest.  The Effective Education Project is being built upon similar self-sustaining and self-spreading strategies. But this blog entry isn’t about that.

It is about credit and its role in the economic problem our nation is facing.  We know this problem is primarily due to house foreclosures.  And most of the media has focused either on blaming the borrowers for making bad choices, or “predatory lenders” for getting borrowers into these bad loans.

But what is interesting, is that both the borrowers and the lenders suffered from the same underlying issue: the desire for instantaneous gratification at the ignorance and expense of the future.  The borrowers wanted the house now, which they really couldn’t afford.  And the lenders wanted the commissions, without regard for the sustainability of their system. 

This is nothing new.  Credit can often set up this trap, and similar underlying issues of credit and speculation led to the great depression.  But credit, like money, isn’t inherently evil.  It is a tool, and if we use the tool wisely, it can benefit our lives, and the lives of others.

The key is to use it strategically and with good analysis for the future.  For example, a house can be a good investment, if you will ultimately save money compared to renting.  Student loans can be good if you have good reason to believe you will make more money with the degree than you would earn without it.  But with both, you need to analyze how much more you will compared to what you are doing now, and how much it will truly cost, including interest.  From this analysis you can determine how long it will take to actually have a positive return on investment. 

With this type of self-discipline to make a data driven decision in your own life, then credit can be a blessing, instead of the curse it has become to so many people who fell into the trap of instantaneous gratification.

Written by Jacob Walker

November 27th, 2008 at 7:38 pm

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Those who can, Do. Those who can’t, Teach. Those who really suck, Rule the world.

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I’ve always wondered about the adage “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” While any generality will be incorrect for certain people. (For example, I personally believe I’m one of those who can, given my background in private industry) But what about the majority of teachers? Is there any evidence to truly suggest that this concept that teachers are not as good as those who go into other industries or majors?

Unfortunately, I think I found some. I am going to enter a masters program this coming year, and so I have decided to take the GRE test (even though the masters programs I’m looking in to don’t require it, specifically I think it could boost my chances with Drexel. I’ll talk more soon about my speculation about why they don’t require it.)

The GRE is used for many schools to determine admission into various masters programs. And while there can be arguments made about how well (or how poorly) it measures ones potential of success, it still is a benchmark that is used, and I’m sure has some merit.

What I found interesting, is in the math (quantitative analysis) part of the test, about 2/3 of the general group that takes the test score better than Educational majors.

But, when it comes to managers, it is mostly worse. For those majoring in Management for private industry about 60% of others did better, for those majoring in School Administration, about 69% of others did better, and for public administration it sunk to having about 71% of others doing better… So maybe the Peter Principle has some merit also!!!

Although, to be fair teachers and administrators do fair better on the English (Verbal Reasoning) portion of the test. On this part only 55% of everyone else did better than Teachers. Although in this case about 60% did better than private industry managers, about 62% did better than school administrators, and only about 55% of others did better than our public administrators… So, I guess in this case, our public servants, like our former President Clinton, are cunning linguists. 🙂

Oh well. I hope that I score well on the test to show that not all teachers “can’t”, otherwise my next post will need to be refuting this post, and telling you why the GRE is not a good gauge of why someone can or can’t… 🙂

BTW, I’m interested in anyone’s feedback about other objective methods that either show our teachers and public servants are more or less capable.

P.S. – To be fair to the MBAs of the world, most of them don’t take the GRE, they take the GMAT, and you really can’t compare them together, so private industry managers may not be as bad as I list here.

Written by Jacob Walker

August 22nd, 2008 at 5:43 am