STEM: What role do minorities have in STEM?

I think this graphic pretty much sums it up. Obviously in order to solve this problem we are going to have to invest a lot of time, money, and effort. Here are some interested facts about STEM. Please see this article for more details

1. A whopping 73% of scientists and engineers are white
2. African-Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics between 18 and 24 account for 34% of the total U.S. population but earn only 12% of all undergraduate degrees in engineering
3. The gap between educational achievement in STEM grows even wider at the graduate level.
4. Minority students report desiring to go into a STEM major at the same rate as their white and Asian peers
5. Minority STEM grads are less likely to use their STEM degrees in a future career than their white or Asian counterparts
6. Most foreign-born STEM workers come from Asia
7. California boasts the largest gap between minorities and STEM degree achievement.
8. While the overall percentage of 24-year-olds in the United States with STEM degrees is 6%, it’s just 2.7% among African-Americans and 2.2% for Latinos.
9. More minorities switch to another major when enrolled in a STEM program.
10. Minorities experience large gaps in honors course enrollments.

PhoneGap: Building an app and classroom use

Well I have built my first mobile app using PhoneGap. Here are my thoughts:

Usability: Setting the software up was pretty easy although I did think the PhoneGap tutorials were not very good and had to look elsewhere to get the software installed on both Eclipse and Xcode. However once I was set up, all I needed to do was to drop HTML files into my WWW folder. Additionally, it was not easy to figure out how to publish my apps to the Android/iOS stores but very easy once I did figure it out. I would recommend one be familiar with Eclipse and Xcode before working with PhoneGap. Now onto building an app – very easy. Building an app using HTML was pretty easy. PhoneGap does have the ability to interact with the phone’s internal hardware just like a native app, which is nice. It does require javascript though, so be prepared to program if using PhoneGap.I did have to also modify things in both Eclipse and Xcode in order to get certain things to work, for instance, just adding external links to my app in Xcode required modification. I honestly think PhoneGap needs to work on their tutorials, for many things their software could do, and it would used by many more people. They are limiting themselves with the poor tutorials they have on their site.

Publishing – Publishing on multiple devices was pretty easy. After I had finished my app for Android, it took me maybe 30-45 mins to get it ready for publishing on iOS, which is pretty impressive. Keep in mind though that in order to publish on Apple (or even get your app on your iPad/iPhone) you need to pay the $99 developer fee. On Android, that fee is only $25 which is much more reasonable. Also, Android lets you publish your app without review, Apple needs to review (takes weeks at a minimum) and might actually reject your app.

Education use: I think this would be a very good tool for the classroom but there are a few things that an instructor needs to be ready for. The first thing is setting up this software. It was not that easy to set up. You have to download and install like 5 things for Android and like 5 things for Apple. Not only do you have to download/install but you need to create directories and move files around. While this was pretty easy for myself (and it did take a while), this is a nightmare waiting to happen in the classroom. You will have to walk your students through this process and I would expect errors. This process alone will turn off non technical students who will never use this tool after class due to this set up process. Once all set up though, its HTML, CSS, and Javascript. I do believe your students should thoroughly understand HTML and CSS with intro level javascript knowledge before attempting to use this tool. You at least need to know how to find/modify javascript to really do  anything ‘fun’ with the tool (unless you are just creating static HTML pages). Now, if you can look past all of that (and I probably can for my non programmer/non technical students even though I did sound rather negative in my review), I would recommend to require all students buy an Android develop account for $25 (vs iOS $99 due to cost) and let them each publish their apps to the Android Martketplace (Google Play). I think students would love to see their apps on the app store.

Classes begin today!

Summer courses begin today. I will be teaching a graduate course: Computer Interface Design. The course will cover HCI and interface design strategies then move into Adobe Photoshop. Students will develop several interfaces and projects using Photoshop. I am very excited, this is going to be a fun course.

edX: Harvard and MIT offer courses online for anyone

Harvard and MIT have teamed up to offer courses online for anyone: At this point, they have not stated what courses will be offered. It seems like they are in the very beginning stages of this project.

Details appear to be limited as to how this will really operate. Here is information about the technology used to deliver the courses:

“An open-source online learning platform that will feature teaching designed specifically for the web. Features will include: self-paced learning, online discussion groups, wiki-based collaborative learning, assessment of learning as a student progresses through a course, and online laboratories.”

Now here is one thing I found very interesting:

“The platform will also serve as a laboratory from which data will be gathered to better understand how students learn.”

Essentially what this means: If you sign up and participate in these courses your data CAN be used for research. I assume MIT and Harvard got a grant to develop this and conduct research on it, however, that is not stated from what I saw.

Now here is the most interesting thing in regards to getting credit for taking these courses:

“EdX will be available to anyone in the world with an internet connection, and in general, there will not be an admissions process. For a modest fee, and as determined by the edX board, MIT and Harvard, credentials will be granted only to students who earn them by demonstrating mastery of the material of a subject.

As determined by the edX board, MIT and Harvard, online learners who demonstrate mastery of subjects could earn a certificate of completion, but such certificates would not be issued under the name Harvard or MIT.”

Does that mean the courses are free or will there be a charge? It seems there definitely will be a charge to get the certificate which will not be associated with MIT or Harvard. So I guess the question is, why take these for this certificate? How much will the fee be? What is the value of this certificate (i.e., will anyone recognize it and for what subjects). These questions should seriously be considered by anyone before taking these courses. Even if the courses are offered for free there is still a free for proof that you took it which essentially means these courses are not free.


Why all faculty and teachers should have their own website

I recently wrote a blog post concerning all students having their own website. Well I believe all faculty in higher education and K-12 teachers should have their own as well.

Why is this? Students and parents should know who their teachers and professors are. They should know about all the work we do. They should know how many publications, presentations, and past work experiences we have had. I recently (yesterday) had a student tell me that her mom was asking about her professors and she liked the fact that she could go to my website and see my resume and some information about me. This is a great way for us as faculty to demonstrate just how valuable we are. Many of my colleagues and peers resumes are very impressive and I think its a great idea for us to show that off. It also shows we know a little bit about technology and are not stuck in the stone ages.

Having a website is just one way to accomplish this. Of course many of our schools have a ‘faculty page’ but these are very generic. Having your own website can really show off your skills and is informative to our students. My point – faculty, develop a website for yourself. If you are not tech savvy, ask your instructional technologists, they would be more than willing to help you out!

Why you should not leave college without your own website

I tell all of my undergraduate students that they should not leave college without their own website. I also tell all of my graduate instructional technology students that they MUST have their own website, they are in a technology based field for goodness sake!

Why have your own website? Well let me ask you to search for yourself on Google, what comes up on the first page? Anything about you? Do other people have your name? Does your facebook page come up? Well guess what, when you graduate and begin to interview your potential employer is going to search for you as well. So if your facebook page is coming up it’s time to make is private. So if you are going to be searched online, why not intentionally point people searching for you to a website that is designed to ‘show off’ your work? That’s right, send them to a site of your choosing on purpose. So, just as an example, search for me, ‘Ray Pastore’ and you will see that this website you are on comes up first. I WANT people to find this site.

Why else do you want a site? You can put it on your resume. Showing a potential employer that you have enough technical skills to build a website can help in almost any career. Plus if they choose to, they can go to the site and this is your chance to show them your portfolio. Show them sample writings, projects, as well as your philosophies toward your field.

Now if I buy and create a site is it automatically number one on search results? NO! You need to make it SEO friendly but that is for another post on this blog.

So how do you buy a website?

I always recommend because that is who I use. In fact, if you go through my link that I give my students, you can own a web address and build a site for $38.50 a year. Here is that link: And I do not get anything if you use that link, so don’t think I am trying to sell you something here. Another company I like is, however, they are more expensive, around $100 a year, which is usually out of a students price range. Godaddy tends to be another popular one however I have only had bad experiences with them, so I do not recommend them.

When you do buy a site, I recommend a .com address. You can choose from .net, .org, .info, etc.

How do I build my site?

Well that is also for another blog post. You can take classes, teach yourself online, etc. I would recommend taking a class though so that you are doing things correctly. Correctly means that your site will show up on all browsers, mobile phones, and be optimized to show up first in search engines.

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any questions:)

UNCW – Master’s of Instructional Technology

For those interested in a Master’s of Instructional Technology or Instructional Design, please check out the video that one of our graduate students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington made which highlights our program: