Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Howie Budin, CCTEBy mst • Apr 23rd, 2010 • Category: Communication, Computing, and Technology Education, Lead Story
Dr. Howie Budin remembers his first interaction with technology in the classroom vividly. “A computer showed up in ‘78, an Apple II…We had no idea what to do with it. Old Apples had one disk drive and no complex operating system, so any time you operated a program it was from disk.” Students played one game, Little Brick Out, featuring Apple’s extremely low resolution graphics. Howie remembers, “We played that for half a year and started wondering what the computer was really for. So I wondered and wondered, and I came [to Teachers College] to study programming.” At the time, Bob Taylor taught all programming classes. Howie and Bob developed a strong collegial relationship, and after Howie completed Programming II as a student, Bob invited him to teach a section of Programming I. Howie has been with TC ever since, nearly 27 years.
During Howie’s first years at TC, technology in schools was a wildly popular field of study; many classes at TC reached 80 or 90 students. In 1983, Howie and Bob Taylor envisioned a Intensive MA program in Computing and Education for teachers around the world. The concept: students visit Teachers College for a one month intensive summer session in July, and remaining coursework is completed from home. This presented a challenge, because all communication was by telephone or letters at that time. The burgeoning program grew quickly, bringing technology training to teachers across the globe. Today, CCTE still offers this program as a part of the Computing and Education offering. The advent of the internet engendered a shift from letters and telephone to email, web cams, and online discussion boards.
In 2007, Howie suggested offering a online version of the MA in Computing and Education where students could complete all coursework online. They started with about 8-10 students from all over the world, and now the cohort is about fifty students. Both online and intensive programs are geared for K-12 teachers, technology directors, or specialists in schools. Many students stay and work in schools, and others go on to doctoral work.
These days, most of Howie’s time is spent coordinating the Online and Intensive masters programs in the CCTE program. Much of his work is administrative: spreadsheets, forms, and proposals. His favorite part of the job is advising 80 masters students. “It’s one of the things I like best. I talk online with people through Skype or Adobe Connect. Every day, I’m having one-on-one or group meetings to talk about advisement and masers papers. I get to know [the students] really well that way. All of [them] are interesting. One person wants to bring videos to small villages in Africa. Another one wants to do something in Haiti with technology.” In addition to overseeing and teaching the online and intensive masters programs, Howie teaches classes in the CCTE program.
This fall, Howie will be leading a seminar course called Technology and Democratic Education. “I’m interested in how technologies can be used to promote active participatory citizenship. A lot of people say it’s doing this already, especially with youth in social networking… I’m interested in how technology affects society. It changes every minute.” He reflects, “I remember reading a book in 1981 about how [technology] would change things. I like my courses [because] I change the books every year. It keeps you fresh.”
In his spare time, you’ll find Howie reading. “I’m old fashioned. I like to hold books, pick them up.” Howie is a big music fan. You’ll find everything from Bob Dylan to Wilco in one of his playlists. He also plays guitar, specifically folk music from the 60s and 70s.