Examining and Elevating Education:
Dr. Boberg's Blog
As the Academic Dean of The Episcopal School of Dallas, Dr. Eric Boberg is charged with articulating, overseeing, and leading ESD’s learning and teaching priorities, promoting ESD’s Mission, supporting a system of practice that attracts and retains exemplary educators, and implementing and refining a professional growth system for faculty. Boberg earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington. He has his MBA from TCU’s Neeley School of Business and his Master of Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
If you have a question about ESD's curriculum or trends in education, please email Dr. Boberg. He will post answers to common questions here.
Supporting Advanced Studies at ESDFor decades, schools like The Episcopal School of Dallas have done their best to support their students when they have excelled beyond the standard curriculum, which targets a set of graduation requirements and the success of all students. Traditionally, such support comes in the form of new electives and independent study and, more recently, as online courses offered by other schools, such as Stanford's EPGY, or as part of a consortium of schools, such as Online School for Girls or Global Online Academy. When an elective doesn't exist, these other approaches are available to any student who wants to pursue his or her interests beyond our offerings.
The main short-coming of independent study and these non-ESD offerings stems from their potential for isolation. Very few members of the community are generally aware of the work that individual teachers support with individual students through independent study. These classes often meet infrequently, very little discussion is generated, and students outside of the course benefit very little from the knowledge or skills developed. Similarly, the nature of online offerings--often asynchronous and almost always purely digital and cyber--pale in comparison to the dynamic, face-to-face interactions of the ESD classroom, promoting discussion between peers who share similar interests, backgrounds, and immediacy and striving for a community of learners who become teachers themselves throughout the process.
At the same time, these online options stand to enrich our offerings: they provide content for students when there aren't enough students to warrant a section or when we don't have a teacher knowledgeable or skilled enough in an emerging field or free enough in time or energy to create, develop, and refine a course that might only be offered for one year. These online options can also unite learners from far-away locales with varying perspectives, backgrounds, and current contexts that promise to enrich our students' lives just as our students enrich the lives of their virtual classmates.
While our students can avail themselves of online courses and independent study when appropriate, we want to ensure that all of our offerings provide robust, real-world, interactive learning experiences that spill over into the entire community, enriching as many of our students' and teachers' lives as possible. With these aims in mind, we have implemented a blended cohort model for advanced studies here at ESD, which supports students' academic interests while adhering to the following criteria:
- Students work in small groups that encourage the exchange of ideas, reciprocal support, and shared inspiration;
- Students work with a group of teachers, each of whom supports an aspect of their learning;
- Students take online courses that expose them to a broader community of learners who share a passion for content and skills in areas that exceed our curricular offerings;
- Students work on real-world, extended projects that demonstrate their new learning; and
- Students share what they are learning with one another, their teachers, and other students throughout the school.
- Four teachers--John Gallo, Max Auge, Donna Hull, and Eric Boberg--have begun to interact with these students and each will support different overlapping roles.
- Working in small groups, each student will take a series of online courses, mostly through Coursera. Currently, two students are taking Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why, taught by Professor Dale Purves at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, and the other five students are taking Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everday Life, taught by Professor Peggy Mason at the University of Chicago.
- Each student is serving as a teacher assistant (TA) for one of Mr. Gallo's biology classes, teaching regular short lessons and reviews and offering office hours during the day for students who need help prior to each test.
- The students will be working on a series of interconnected experiments related to biology, chemistry, and technology. They are currently conducting preliminary research related to microbial fuel cells. Can Quarry muck and garden compost produce energy? How can these processes be optimized?
- In addition to teaching lessons to biology students, these students will periodically share what they are learning in their online courses with each other, with their teachers, and with students in appropriate classes. They will also update the community on the progress of their research and experiments with a set of poster presentations mid-way through the second and third quarters and in an end-of-the-year presentation to younger students.
Choose groups to clone to: