[IAEP] A survey on educational technology

Mel Chua mel at melchua.com
Sun Mar 8 23:36:41 EDT 2009

It's somewhat US-centric, but I thought the folks here might be
interested in Jason's project - he's been interested in Sugar for quite 
some time and came out to the ILXO office in Chicago this summer where 
we had a wonderful conversation.

I thought IAEP might be a good place for Jason to ask for thoughts on 
Sugar, open source in education, the internet and education, educational 
technology, and other "education + tech" themes. Perhaps there's some 
way that Sugar could be a good fit for what he ends up doing next.

More context in the letters below.


Jason Hoekstra wrote:
> I wrote up a survey for educational technology which I'd like you 
> consider filling out. More details can be found by clicking on the
> link below. Thanks in advance for your consideration and time.
> (If I forwarded this to you and you aren't an educator, the intent is
>  for you to forward along to the educator(s) that is (are) close to
> you. Also, feel free to forward this along to anyone you think that
> would like to participate. Many thanks!!)
> Jason

Here's why I'm doing this. I've been working a good 14+ years as a
professional in information technology, mostly as a lead software
developer. Last year, I decided to take a strong turn away from a stable
career at a pharmaceutical research company to join the Barack Obama
campaign in Chicago. Never before have I worked with a more dedicated
group aligned with what, in my opinion, fiercely needs to happen in this
country. It has been a great ride and I'm continuing on by finding where
I can best positively impact change in our country.

Obama's understanding of technology as a component to drive change
(health care, education, small business, green tech) is a top reason of
why he very early became my candidate of choice. Well, apparently others
found things they liked in Obama, and with a tremendous effort, we won.
 From the campaign, I traveled on to the transition team and now working
for the White House Office. The role I'm in is temporary as many backend
systems are being developed for a department which will soon get a
permanent team. I've been thinking very, very deep about what's next and
I believe my best move is into the sector of educational technology.
Specifically, I'd like to work in the Department of Education's Office
of Educational Technology (OET).

Stepping back a bit, here's my story. I grew up on Chicago's South Side
where educational resources weren't necessarily engaging nor enriching.
Luckily, I received a garage sale VIC-20 (precursor to the C64) which
allowed me to heavily explore the world of computers. Over the years,
this tool (and the others after it) helped me develop skills in logic,
persistence, exploration, experimentation and confidence. I felt first
hand how a computer can provide an unlimited lab for self-education and
exploration which put me on a pretty good track moving forward. For
these next few years, I'd like to focus my efforts on helping others
(educators, administrators, etc.) find ways to use technology to expand
learning and developmental possibilities for our nation's youth.

As a consultant for the past decade, I've found the successful
application of technology follows a pattern. 1.) Ask the folks in the
field about the strengthens and weaknesses of the domain. 2.) Cull over
the gathered responses/data and compare to what is in the marketplace.
3.) Propose solutions, modify with the end users until a good fit is
found. 4.) Deploy the solution. 5.) Measure success of the solution. 6.)
Modify plans as necessary, repeat strengths were possible.

So I'm at step one and requesting your help. As a person in the field of
education, I'd like to gather your responses to what and how you see
technology benefiting education, both as it stands now and in the
future. Your responses will help guide my research of the problem and
impact areas in educational technology. This will help lead me to my
next steps as I begin to work towards a position at the Department of

Your honest feedback is greatly appreciated. Please only share what you
feel comfortable sharing. Your individual responses will not be shared
with anyone else. Thank you greatly in advance for your time and efforts.


Jason Hoekstra

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