The first time I was in college ('78-'80) I was pre-med Biology. I became disillusioned with the medical industry and dropped out. I bounced around and eventually joined the Marine Corps to get training in electronics. Afterward, I worked at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles, fixing all the cool exhibits. After moving back home to Kansas City, MO, I talked my way into a promotion to network manager at a small company. After seven years there with few raises and no possibilities for advancement, I job-hopped my way to a position as the network manager for a small hospital near KC. But the politics got to me so I moved to Lawrence, KS and eventually became an independent computer consultant. I did fine for three years but then worked myself out of a job by making my customer's computers "too reliable." Not being much of a salesman, revenues plummeted. I had been dreaming of going back to college for years. So, when a friend reminded me that "after being poor for two years is a great time to go back to school," I went for it.
So, here I am, a 48 year old undergraduate student. I have to tell you it has not been as easy as I had thought it would be. I was astounded at the poor quality of the textbooks I had to buy and was not exactly impressed by the quality of some of the teaching I witnessed. The biggest problem I had was that the books contained mostly just a rigid stating of facts instead of real explanations that real people could understand. Here I was, an A student, having to reread the same paragraph half a dozen times, then Google till I was blue in the face, just to figure out what the heck the author was talking about. Often I would discover that the authors could have just included one or two more sentences and I would have easily understood it. Finally, I literally said, out loud, “There has got to be a better way.” and I immediately sat down and started figuring out how to do it. Inside of a month I had worked out the basic plan for an entirely new system of storing and disseminating educational material. I call that system the “Distributable Educational Material Markup Language”™ (DEMML™) You can learn more about it at www.demml.org.
Now, DEMML™ is far from complete. I haven't even created the XML Schema yet. Even the web site has some rough spots. But it is getting there. I intend to create the schema and write some preliminary code to demonstrate how the system will work for my senior capstone project. And then I will present at what we call "Apieron" here at Washburn in April of next year. After that I hope go go on to graduate school at the iSchool at Berkeley. Hopefully, they will be able to help me make DEMML™ a reality.
Saving the world through free, easily obtained, and self administered education. Completely rebooting how education is done in this world.
The Distributable Educational Material Markup Language™ (DEMML™) is both an XML format for marking up educational material in a highly structured yet incredibly flexible manner and a system for authenticating and distributing that content throughout the world. Once distributed, no internet connection is required to use the material. This material is organized and classified to a degree never before attempted, using what turns out to be a rather simple system of encoding the hierarchical tree of all possible educational material right down to the paragraph level. This allows anyone to easily contribute any amount of material to what will quickly grow to be a vast library of vetted content for all to use. In addition the format facilitates a new level of flexibility in computer based learning by allowing educators to specify what material the student should study while still allowing the student instant access to additional material as their needs require. (more at www.demml.org)
How to start an international non-profit.
Singing old 40's blues tunes.
I don't have a TED story yet. Naturally, I do hope to present at TED some day. In the mean time, I watch TED talks online rather than watch TV.
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