Thursday, October 27, 2011

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I'm in a degree program at Nova Southeastern University and we have an interesting assignment: nominate a pioneer of Educational Technology to the "hall of fame" organized by our department (Instructional Technology and Distance Education, ITDE).

Dr. Abraham Fischler has made contributions in three areas:

Instructional Design

Instructional Technology

Distance Education

His educational philosophy, captured in his trademark signature phrase “Time is a variable,” has driven instructional design innovations. Charter schools use this model in K-12 to personalize and differentiate instruction plans. Dr. Fischler’s testimony in 2009 helped win a chain of charter schools approval to operate in Dade County during a time when there was increasing antipathy toward any program that might take students away from public schools.

His promotion of computer-assisted instruction makes him an advocate of instructional technology. He was president of Nova when the nation’s first online graduate degree for educators was offered in 1982.

The wide variety of choice in Distance Education exists today largely thanks to a legal fight that Nova University (under Dr. Fischler’s leadership) had to wage in the early 1980s.

What is the background of this pioneer?

Dr. Fischler earned his Ed.D. at Columbia University (New York City), taught at Harvard and UC Berkeley and co-wrote an important science education textbook series that did not give answers in the teacher’s edition. Instead of looking at the answers (did the liquid turn red or blue when acid was added?), the teacher had to do the exercise and interpret the results.

He joined Nova University of Advanced Technology in 1966 when the school aimed to become the “MIT of the South.” It was during this time of his career as an administrator that his six principles of guiding a new school emerged. These six key principles stand as check points for any team aiming to start a school today.

Fischler shifted the university’s focus to on an underserved niche – graduate degrees for educators, teachers and principals. Through persistence and by paying effective teachers as adjuncts, Fischler showed that Nova University could afford excellent instructors as needed. Innovative use of technology to meet the needs of the diverse groups of educators internationally led constantly adapting the “classroom.” Nova University became one of the first schools to rent space in hotels to hold classes on weekends, then flying in teachers to cohorts. Later, the school arranged for the professor to transmitting to several cohorts via satellite, with after-class support supplemented with telephone conferencing.

He left the presidency of the university in 1991, got elected to the Broward County School Board for four years and has since then consulted in the reform of K-12 education.

========================================== His blog pushes for the use of computers in classrooms to help teachers differentiate instruction and personalize the rate of the delivery of lessons, continuing his tireless work in promoting instructional technology. Unlike the easier track of “building a charter school from scratch,” Fischer’s vision statement, given in the blog’s first entry (29 July 2006), describes a pioneering program that would place a layer of technology over existing schools, leading to transformation of entire school systems (rather than just one school).

1) His phrase “Let’s make time a variable” is a hallmark of his contribution to instructional design.

2) His advocacy of computer-assisted instruction is evidence of his role as a pioneer of instructional technology.

3) The North Carolina lawsuit in 1982 ensured more choice in education to millions of professionals in the field of education (growing to other professions as Nova has expanded). These are three reasons to induct Dr. Abraham S. Fischler into the ITDE Hall of Fame.

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