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Schendel: “We have what it takes to be good teachers”

By Sarah Slavik

September 6, 2006

Josh  SchendelATHENS, Ohio — While earning his Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Schendel took advantage of all that college had to offer. He joined a number of organizations and earned his place in four honors societies, as well as the National Dean’s List. Additionally, Schendel gained valuable work experience through co-ops, group projects and employment with UW-area firms.

But Schendel wasn’t satisfied with that. He wanted to establish himself as more than a strong student and active participant in student organizations. So he independently secured funds and industry experience to make it possible to study abroad in Nagasaki, Japan.

In Japan, Schendel was paired with several “conversation partners”. He taught English, while improving his own Japanese. Schendel derived a great deal of confidence from this experience, especially in his teaching ability. He said, “I think that good teachers are the people who are most likely to become role models to middle school children, and I am confident that the other fellows and I have what it takes to be good teachers.”

Second LifeSchendel isn’t all talk; he is realistic about what it will take to make STEAM a success in classrooms across Appalachia, “We need to be good at what we do. We need to work hard to provide quality instruction supplemented with well-chosen, well-developed, easy to use interactive software. I think it’s undeniable that computers can be a wonderful learning tool that can be better utilized in schools.”

In Schendel’s opinion, the rewards for teachers participating in the program include, “Supplemented lesson plans with custom-built, professional-quality software and hands-on training straight from the developers themselves.”

From game design to turning research into simulation to teaching – there is not an aspect of the STEAM project that Schendel could be more excited about. “It all sounds really cool!” he writes.

He has already gotten his feet wet this summer with a computerized version of the classic board game Monopoly called Ohio-opoly. As a result, Schendel is encouraged by the possibilities that Second Life, a virtual 3-D world that can be navigated through with personalized avatars. He says, “There’s something compelling about offering the kids an avatar they can customize to fit their personalities, dropping them in a 3D world which they can explore and which we can monitor and moderate. The possibilities for collaboration, not just with their classmates but even with students from other schools allow for what I think is a powerful learning environment.”