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Midterm: Proposal

Project Proposal I: Course Journals


  • Elevator Pitch

Problem Statement: Course requirements regularly involve students’ submission to examination and submission of papers that then are reviewed, graded, and commented on by instructors. Furthermore, typically students are asked to complete an exercise, and then to move on to the next one, without necessarily incorporating the work of preceding exercises. The standard learning environment is static and encourages limited analysis and use of students’ products.


Solution: If “to teach is to learn twice,”[1] then many classrooms are failing to use the best tool for learning that they potentially have at their fingertips: Ongoing learning can be enhanced if students become a part of the teaching environment. In addition, while emphasis on the process of learning is an essential and sought after aim, the preservation of the products of learning can serve to provide a forum for dynamic discourse and scholarship. Formal instruction should provide a means for ongoing learning and dynamic discourse.


Implement: Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) will promote scholarship through an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal to be developed throughout the course, and beyond. Students will alternate roles as co-reviewer of others’ work and their own work for the journal. At the end of each semester, the journal will be published for open access and ongoing development.



  • Personas

v  Samantha is a second year Master’s student in the Special Education certificate program at Hunter College. Samantha is taking 3 other classes, and teaches part-time at a private elementary school in Manhattan where she has been serving as the lead teacher in an inclusive classroom of 8 to 10 year olds, some of whom have developmental disabilities. Samantha aspires to join the school’s administration soon after the completion of her degree, and dreams of bringing her understanding and appreciation of collaborative management to the fore. Samantha is single, in her late twenties, and living alone. Samantha has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, flkr, and recently made a handful of contributions to Wikipedia pages of her interest.


v  Julio is in his last semester in the program. A career changer, Julio is at least two decades older than the average student in the class. A former business consultant, Julio became interested in the field of special education after the birth of his son Ryan. Ryan, now 7 years old suffers from paralysis among other symptoms; he was born with a severe form of spina bifida. Julio is a married father of three children. He works part-time as a teacher’s aide in the local public school, teaching 4 year olds. To present, Julio uses a computer mostly as an “upgraded typewriter,” as he likes to say. He is largely unfamiliar with social media tools.



  • Use Case Scenario: All students who sign up for Hunter’s introductory course Health Policy/Management (and/or foundations course History of Special Education) will be required to contribute to the course journal. Instructor will use the journal as a main teaching implement, requiring participation as one component of the course grade.


  • Ideal World: Tools like blogs, interactive whiteboards, etc that combine free writing with communication tools for sharing work, developing ideas, and joint writing. Students should be able to do real-time view, edit, and track changes. Students should be able to post queries and share pertinent resource materials. Instructor will be able to monitor each student’s contribution. Published journal articles will be made available for critiquing and further collaboration.

The ideal product will likely take several months for me to complete. I need to learn more about the tools that I can use to create a dynamic, open, collaborative environment, and what all is involved in publishing and keeping the forum alive. I am sure that WordPress, HTML, CSS will come in handy; I am equally sure that there is plenty more out there that I need to tap into.


  • Stripped Down: Students will be assigned sections of the journal which they will post on a class blog. Students will take turns creating and commenting through the blog.


Development of the stripped down version should take a few months. I will need to try out WordPress, asap.


Project Proposal II

  • Elevator Pitch

Problem Statement: Twenty percent of children 9 to 17 years old experience mental health problems[2] and at least 1 in 10, or as many as 6 million young people have a serious emotional disturbance or mental illness that severely disrupts his or her ability to interact effectively.[3]  In New York City (NYC), a number of transitional age youth (TAY) 16-24 years old who have serious emotional disturbance/serious mental illness (SED/SMI are receiving remedial education and vocational readiness services. All the same, TAY are far less likely than their peers to receive assessment, coordination, or care for their health needs, though they are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors (smoking, etc), in spite of their oft times unique and challenging care requirements.[4] DOHMH contractors are not required to provide these interventions.


Solution: In a recent survey administered to TAY with SED/SMI who receive services from adolescent skills center (ASC) programs that are contracted with Department of health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), a large percentage of youth expressed an interest in receiving information about and linkage to various health services. TAY with SED/SMI need a forum that will inform and link the youth to available services, and provide them a space where they can share their stories.


Implement: Interactive website for providing health and other support information devoted to TAY with SED/SMI.



  • Personas

v  Brian is a 19 year old student with SED/SMI who attends an ASC in East Harlem that is sponsored by the DOHMH. Brian has been at the center since he was 14 years old, when he was expelled from his high school. Brian is bi-sexual. Since he does not like the “unnatural feel” of condoms, Brain worries about getting his girlfriend of six months pregnant and contracting sexually transmitted diseases from the men with whom he has sex. Brian has not had a physical exam since he left the public school system, three years ago. Brian has recently made another attempt to quit smoking; at the age of 13, Brian lost his mother to lung cancer. Brian lives with his grandmother, his uncle, and three cousins in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in East Harlem. Brain often does not go home at night because, “that place cramps my style.” He has taken to sleeping over at friends’ houses, or with his male sex partner of the moment. Brian wants to get his GED so that he can find employment; he hopes to be able to find his own apartment so that he can “settle down with my girl.”


v  Rachel is a 22 year old who has been attending an ASC in the South Bronx for the past year, since she was graduated to “independent living” from foster care. Rachel moved from home to home during her tenure in the foster care system, only remaining at any given foster home for up to a few months. Rachel has had two abortions, and is fighting a growing marijuana habit. Rachel has not had a physical exam since her last abortion, two years ago. Rachel does not have a steady boyfriend though she “has some interests,” as she puts it. Rachel is living with her older sister, her sister’s sometimes boyfriend, and their two children in a two bedroom apartment in Morrisania. Rachel is a high school dropout and has no marketable skills. Rachel looks forward to finding her own place and “deciding what I’m going to do with my life.”


v  Mickie is 17 years old and enrolled in an ASC in Brooklyn when he found that he was having difficulty keeping up with his class work; he was recently diagnosed and missed several weeks of school due to his symptoms. Formerly a B/C student, Mickie has hopes of regaining his educational standing, and continuing on to get a college degree. Mickie has a steady boyfriend; they have been together for eight months, though Mickie has recently taken an interest in one of the students at his ASC. Mickie lives at home with his parents and a 10 year old sister in Forte Green. Mickie says that he has been practicing safe sex, though his boyfriend has been questioning why they should use condoms if they are faithful to each other. Mickie does not smoke or use drugs, though he confesses that “I love wine.”



  • Use Case Scenario: TAY with SED will use the website to get up to date information about health issues, including where to get no or low cost care. The website will include personal stories, and provide a platform for communication with other youth, and potentially with service providers.


  • Ideal World: A dynamic, interactive website that attracts and holds youth attention. It must be easy to use, even for the most concrete explorers. Confidentiality will be a key issue for users, yet there should be the ability to blog, and to have direct communication if so desired. Feature for uploading own stories, maybe?


  • Stripped Down: Static information website with Q/A features.


[1] Joseph Joubert.

[2] U.S. Public Health Service, Report of the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental

Health: A National Action Agenda. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services;



[3] Prevalence of serious emotional disturbance in children and adolescents. Mental Health, United States, 1996. Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996.

[4] New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. City Health Information: Promoting Healthy Behaviors in Adolescence. March/April 2009. Vol. 28(2): 9-20. At:


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2 Responses

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  1. Janice says

    So, I have been taking a look at interactive journals, and a few classroom implementations.

    I think that I will go the way og developing a class wiki/journal.
    Google Chrome is looking interesting, and I am feeling like I need to take a deep dive on HTML ; curious about XML, too.

    Whew! There’s so much to learn 🙂

  2. Janice says

    -Attend Scholarly Publishing On-Line: Hopefully, this will be record, as unfortunately I will not be able to attend. This workshop is scheduled during a class (that I missed for a previous workshop) and suring which we have an important (READ: Can’t miss) program meeting.

    -Read “Copy and Paste Culture (Andrew Griff Patterson)
    “Taking a class and making a compostion”

    -Decide if the important end is process (use a wiki format) or product (use OJS)

    -Check out Journal of Interactive Technology Networks

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