Next up in our series of Educator Snapshots, we have Kate Cottrell, one of our K-12MATH course designers.
Hello Kate, thanks for taking the time to let us and our readers get to know you! Let’s get started with our first question. What work have you done with the Saylor Foundation?
I am developing the fully-loaded Geometry course for the K-12 courses.
Great, we are happy to have you here. Our K-12MATH: Geometry course is live and running. Thank you! When you’re not developing courses, what else keeps you busy?
I am a middle school math teacher at Gimnasio La Montaña, a school in Bogotá, Colombia. Next year I will take on a new role as Director of Teacher Support and Development.
Congratulations on your new job, that sounds wonderful!
On to our next question, how did you get involved in open and/or online education?
Before working with the Saylor Foundation I had very limited experience with online education. We studied some successful programs, such as Khan Academy, in graduate school and I had the opportunity to work on some projects related to teacher training and support that used the Internet as a tool for collaboration. Additionally, I have participated in Coursera’s online courses and have begun thinking about creating courses for teachers. My work at the Saylor Foundation, however, has been my first formal development of an online course and it has been so exciting!
We are glad to hear that you have enjoyed it! Although this your first time developing a course, how has your work with the Saylor Foundation changed your professional practice or added to your repertoire?
Through my work with Saylor Foundation, I have learned about Open Education Resources and the Common Core State Standards Initiative. I love these new standards and think they have found a way to favor depth over breadth. Additionally, the search for Open Education Resources sheds light on the number of amazing educational resources online but also the shockingly few resources that are OER and can be shared freely. This work has made me want to assist in the creation of more high quality resources that are freely available to everyone.
The more OER, the merrier! Do you have advice for other teachers interested in open and/or online education?
When you create great resources for your classrooms, share them and make sure you’ve taken the time to label them with a Creative Commons license.
K-12 teachers have a great culture of sharing, so we can certainly hope for good things (and increasing use of Creative Commons licenses). Shifting gear a bit: as an educator, what do you truly enjoy about your work?
I love watching the learning process. I love seeing how the work I do helps to shape the minds of others, specifically young people.
Do you have any thoughts on the future of K-12 education and/or less-formal learning?
I think online education is the key to make differentiation truly possible in the classroom. Students can access anything they want to know online – as teachers we can steer them in the correct direction. I think there is still great value to having students in classrooms with a teacher to interact and create and question, but the online content increases the possibilities for learning.
And we are happy to help fill-in those gaps! What other advice would you have for our young student readers?
Explore, try new things, and don’t back away from opportunities that arise even if they seem a little scary or new or challenging. This is where learning happens and you discover yourself and your passions. When you have interests and goals and a vision for your future, the drive to learn comes naturally and that’s when you find your way to make your mark on the world, to make a difference.
And one last question before you go…what advice would you have for those who have graduated, or are themselves parents of students?
I think my advice would be the same for people of all ages – life is all about exploring and discovering. You are never too old to learn something new and to change the world for the better.