Photo of Tim-Berners Lee by CERN
In the beginning...
The idea for isessioner.com's Tutor, Learning and Collaborative website platform was born out of watching science fiction shows and movies, the Saturday morning cartoons and reading comic books as a young kid in the early ’70s and realizing these futuristic technologies could someday be used in public education. Once I saw a computer in high school for the first time, I knew it was no longer fictional but a reality that would happen someday. When it would happen I did not know, but the idea of technology being used in public education for teaching students was something I wanted to be part of. At the time, I had no idea how long it would take for my ideas to come to life because the computers were big and expensive and the software used in them was limited and proprietary. In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee developed the first Internet web browser and web server for the NeXT Computer and that changed everything because now, he made it possible for information to be shared and used on a global scale like never before and that included public education. The time had come where I could give life to my ideas. It was life imitating actionable art. How we teach students, how they would learn, and how they would be helped would never be the same again.
Photo of TI07d by NASA
To reach for the stars to make the unknown know...
Even though the Internet was now part of our reality, the power it would later unleash on the world had yet to happen, because the Internet in its early form was limited in what it could do for public education. It was seen by public education as nothing more than a medium that provided information and private investors didn't see it as a viable market to invest in. I knew this was true because I was now a high school biology teacher and I saw first-hand what was going on. As a result, public education was slow to adopt the Internet, but it did provide teachers like myself, who took the time and made the effort, the opportunity to pilot Internet projects for our classes. One of the Internet projects I did that turned out successful was the use of ipods. The ipods were connected to the Internet and I used them to dessiminate information to the students and to receive information from students, take pics, complete assignments, take quizzes and tests, collect lab data, do lab calculations, present the lab data, complete lab reports and to collaborate to name a few. The ipod Internet project proved to me that students when given the opportunity, the proper guidance and the right tools can create, generate, store and manage their own information. The students can then use this information to produce learning that shows what they have learned and how to put that learning into context that is applicable and relevant to them. So, isessioner.com's Tutor, Learning and Collaborative website platform is a learning platform and a learning repository that takes the approach that information and learning are to be used to help you make "sound" decisions, to be engaging, to be a participant, to collaborate with others, to understand the world you live in and for you to be an invaluable contributor to your community.
Photo of one-room schoolhouse by John Margolies
For whom the bell tolls...
As we all know, there was a time in public education when the information and the learning happened inside a one room school house. The teaching method was a "one size fits all" or the "teach to the middle". These teaching methods made sense to the people at that time, because their economy was a lot different than the economy we live in now. Today, and based upon my pass teaching experience, it leads to students not receiving an equitable education, because students don't learn at the same rate and students don't retain their learning equally overtime. And, given seat time is used as a measure of student learning happening over a given period of time and given today's economy, we need to change the teaching methods that yield the "Bell Curve". As of today, a lot of research in this area is shining a light on these problems and making the point that students need to become the driver and the owner of their learning. In order to help students become the driver and the owner of their learning, we now know we must provide students with a variety of ways to learn and gain experience whether its in the classroom, outside the classroom or on the Internet. The Internet has the greatest potential to reshape how teaching and learning takes place in public education, because it can be used to provide varies learning methods and coupled with the curriculum being available 24/7, students have more opportunities to learn what they need to learn and gain the experiences they need to have. Consequently, students through trial and error will be able to find the right fit for their learning, which will depend on what they are learning. Overtime, students will become the drivers of their own learning, which will result in them taken ownership of it and therefore, they will place a higher value on their learning through those experiences and self reflections. So, isessioner.com's Tutor, Learning and Collaborative website platform is a tutoring platform that has different learning methods students can choose from to facilitate their learning. The idea is not to replace public education, but to reshape it to make learning in public education accessible, varied, relevent, contextual, recordable and retrievable using all the services and tools you have at your disposal connected to the Internet and make them available at any time and from anywhere for the students.
Bookcover by Simon and Schuster
The road less traveled...
Even though we know a variety of learning methods made available on the Internet and having 24/7 access to them will drastically improve student learning and retention, we still have too many students that "get lost" or "fall through the cracks" for one reason or another. This leads to the student eventually dropping out of school, and thereby, reducing their chances of a better life and a better future or all too often, they become a ward of the state or they are put into the "school to prison" pipeline, which further reduces their chance of a better life or a better future. Looking back on my teaching years, it hurt to see any student not being successful and I did my best to help them help themselves, which included bringing in their parents, my colleagues, admin, support staff or other outside professional services. These interventions were more often successful than not because you can get to the root of the student's problem. Even students that are successful are not immune to problems that may arise from school or life, so schools must be proactive in this area to head off the student's problem before it becomes a crisis that requires intervention by the teacher, the school, the police or a state agency and ends up having the student removed from their school or their family. There are no schools that are immune from having to deal with student problems, and given that these schools are all connected to the Internet, the Internet can be used, if done right to provide prevention, intervention and treatment services. So, isessioner.com's Tutor, Learning and Collaborative website platform is a central resource directory, so wraparound providers and non-wraparound providers can better serve the students and the families they are currently providing services to and be available to the students and the families who seek out their services, but are unaware they exist.
Welder image by US Government
..."poverty is not only a private tragedy but, in a sense, a public crime"... - A. Philip Rudolph
In 1966, A. Philip Rudolph, the president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porter's union said, "Here in these United States, where there can be no economic or technical excuse for it, poverty is not only a private tragedy but, in a sense, a public crime. It is above all a challenge to our morality." And, now, here we are fifty-four years later and we still haven't eliminated proverty in the United States. Today, we have the opportunity, the wherewithal and the resources to begin the process to eliminate proverty. Our public schools in the past provided vocational education in the kinds of jobs that didn't need a college degree and it served us well. We need to bring back vocational education into our public schools as we had them in the past as well as update the facilities, the equipment and the curriculum to meet the demands of a 21st century economy. Vocational education is the non-wraparound services we need in our public schools today to educate our students, train the future workers and to retrain the present workers. Coupled with internships and apprenticeships, we can build a strong economy in which we all benefit from and can support. The covid-19 pandemic and the resulting collapse and the drop of many sectors within our economy, laid bare that an active and ongoing training, retraining, internships, apprenticeships, and good paying jobs are necessary in order to build wealth and a strong 21st Century economy. Our future depends on it.
Public Education is fundamental to a true democratic society...
You might be wondering who I am. My name is Charles Hill, Sr. and I'm now retired from teaching high school biology. What you have just read is a "snapshot" of what isessioner.com's Tutor, Learning and Collaborative website platform is all about. It has been a journey with so many twists and turns that I've lost count. At times, I felt like I had gotten lost in the proverbial "rabbit hole", but through perseverance and sheer determination, I found the solution to the problem I had and became more focused to finish the project I envisioned a long time ago. At other times, it was dedicated coders who were able to follow my instructions and solved problems that kept the project moving forward. Failure was never an option for me, because public education is one of the greatest equalizers we have in life. Public education is fundamental to a truly democratic society. Democracy is not a static endeavor that exists on its own, but an ever-changing idea that exists through the actions of all its citizens and its occupants that makes it work. It provides every person the opportunity to add something beneficial to the world and to make the world a better place for all of us to live in. But for this democracy to work for all of us, we have to have an educated populace with an open mind, that works to bring out the best in all of us and the consciousness in life to treat others as you would want them to treat you. As Martin Luther King, Jr said in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail", "Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability." He was right then and he is right today, so become a member today and endeavor to reach for the stars and to shine your light, so others can follow.