Expert opinions on STEM education and EE?

STEM education is growing rapidly and preparing the next generation to fulfill the needs of our society's technology demands.  

In what ways has EE helped you continually learn, even as professionals?
How can EE support STEM as a great learning resource?
Kasey HartBusiness Development Asked:
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Thomas Zucker-ScharffSolution GuideCommented:
I find that watching questions on EE helps me answer questions I didn't even know I had.  I will sometimes see a question and think "That's an excellent question, I wonder what the answer is?"  Then I'll monitor the question to see what the answer(s) are.  I have learned more from answering questions here than I didn't know I didn't know (  :-)  ).   I am continually using both questions and articles to learn more about what I am supposedly an "expert" in.  

I probably would have benefited both from a STEM component of education and access to EE, my kids certainly did.   The problem is as a student, at least up through high school) I would not have valued that access at all.
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
If EE creates a special area for Students interested in STEM, it might be beneficial.  Throwing a bunch of students into the general population probably wouldn't be beneficial.  Most Topic Areas are highly specialized and STEM is so broad, not sure how they would mesh together.

Everyone knows how homework questions were perceived and dealt with in the past.  It is only very recently the position on them has changed.  The position of the population hasn't been quick to embrace the change for those that know about it.  Getting the word out to most Experts has been slow from what I've come across when a homework question has been asked recently.

Spitballing:  Maybe a special badge like Vendors have that designates them as being involved in the STEM program at EE.  Then there would likely need to be some special Topic Areas of Groups for more generalized discussions.

I'm interested in hearing what you are thinking and how you think Q&A can assist students with STEM and not just be seen as quick answers to homework questions.
aburrCommented:
The STEM effort is VERY good.
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I am not sure EE has a special place in it.

Thomas says "I find that watching questions on EE helps me answer questions I didn't even know I had.  I will sometimes see a question and think "That's an excellent question, I wonder what the answer is?"  Then I'll monitor the question to see what the answer(s) are.  I have learned more from answering questions here than I didn't know I didn't know (  :-)  ).   I am continually using both questions and articles to learn more about what I am supposedly an "expert" in.  "
I agree completely
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serialbandCommented:
EE is a question and answer forum.  It's not really an educational platform.  It was really the first forum to use point rewards, but I guess the patent finally expired and other forums started adopting the point rewards systems too.  What are you going to give students?  Are we now going to answer their homework problems and help them cheat?  We have enough frauds out there.

A lot of schools already have an internal network to help with questions and answers that are more pertinent to their classes.  Some schools already use Piazza and limit outside interference from helping the students cheat.  They know how to watch forums for students trying to game the systems and get outside homework help.  The schools want a controlled environment to prevent wide scale cheating.  They're not going to want EE, because you have a lot of outsiders that will answer homework questions, unless some other member spots it and points it out.

For K-12, there's already Khan Academy, Free Rice, and several others.  There's already plenty of established sites that do education well.  EE is not one of those sites.  You don't have an established base.  You can't compete with them, without even knowing what you plan to do.  Salman Khan started with simple videos to educate his cousin and expanded from there almost 10 year ago.

Many schools have free programs as well as paid programs that qualify for college credit.  Udemy and Coursera comes to mind.   Are you planning to compete that way?

Unless you get the schools to buy in, you're not going to get the students on here.  You won't get the school buy in without something that they find useful.  Currently, there isn't anything resembling an educational platform on EE.  This forum was not really meant for that, because it was never designed with that original goal in mind.  It was designed as a glorified, moderated forum, and it still is.  EE mainly succeeded because it wasn't the wild west of usenet.  A lot of Universities were on Usenet before alternatives arrived, and EE wasn't one of those alternatives.  The time to become one of those alternatives was around 10 years ago, when Piazza, Khan Academy, Free Rice, etc... came on the scene.  EE is 10 years past that inflection point to think about that now.

At this juncture, you'll need to spend a few years to establish your educational programs to make EE useful to education.  You have a lot of competition.  Do you have a plan in mind to do this yet?  This seems to be a grasp at straws to try and diversify EE.  You'll have to do much, much better than Khan Academy, and the others, to succeed at all.  You missed the boat around 10 years ago, so you'll have to work much, much harder to get that buy in that you'll need to succeed with some sort of STEM education focus.

Unless you have some miraculous plan, or are willing to spend boatloads of money, this idea is basically dead in the water.  Stop chasing money.  Figure out what EE does well and make it better.  That's the first step.  If you're working just on how to get money, you might inflate for a short while, but those balloons/bubbles generally burst.
serialbandCommented:
Additionally,  whatever STEM initiative EE wants to do should be separate from EE.  You should spin that off, get it working, then, maybe eventually fold that back in.  Don't mess up your established business chasing unicorns.  Get the idea working as a separate unit first.  If it succeeds, then figure out if it can be brought back in.  EE really isn't set up for STEM education at the moment.  You haven't ever focused on it before, and you'll only disrupt existing workflow trying to shoehorn it into EE right now.
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
I have learned more from answering questions here than I didn't know I didn't know
What Thomas said resonates.  I think a lot of Experts participate not only to help others, but to also keep current.  Some of this depends on the topic and type of training the Expert has gone through.

Often times real world experience is different from text books  This is what will make a site like EE beneficial as we are made up of members that have a good mix of classic training and real world experience.  I don't agree with some of the comments made. There have been plenty of students that have asked questions (both as homework and working on their own projects) the same as adult learners.  We have a few long time members that are self taught and have built some very cool applications on their own that we can see grow by their question history through the years.

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serialbandCommented:
Students mainly resort to external forums if they're not getting help in their own school forums.  Having been on Piazza and answered questions there, they get homework help sooner than they would here.  If you're an "external student" that's not enrolled in a school that has access to help, then you might resort to a forum like EE.  If you're enrolled in an accredited school that has proper TAs and access to student help, you'll generally find answers faster locally than you would here.

I'm generally finding more answers in other forums than I've ever found here.  Since I know how to search google, I generally also find better answers at the source than I do here.  I did get certain specific help here long, long ago, but haven't really benefited from subsequent questions I've asked here.  I've actually gotten more help in external topic specific forums than EE.  It's just one resource of many.  There is nothing specific about EE that's better than any other forum.

Unless EE can differentiate itself better, I suggest EE concentrate on it's core model to make it better first.  Attract people to its benefits rather than trying to diversify and chase money.  You're not going to catch up to stackexchange unless you make your services better first.  That's why I had previously suggested to the cleanup volunteers to delete questions and have those answering challenge the deletion and make a case for why an answer should be kept.  The main thing EE has going for it is that it's heavily moderated, meaning we can make sure only very relevant, accurate, high quality answers are kept.

EE can be a better forum than the others.  We don't need to keep duplicates.  Stop the point gamers and make the question and answer forum better.  The thing I've always hated about visiting other forums is finding the wrong answers being selected as "correct".  It's a pain and a tremendous waste of time to find the wrong answers that don't work.  It's time to fix that issue and make EE better.

If EE wants to chase STEM, it really needs to do it as a separate service that can start fresh and be more able to make quick changes to follow the flow.  You can't do that on EE, because you'll chase away long time users.  Once it's established, you can then decide whether or not it should be merged into the main body of EE.  Don't destroy the core business chasing unicorns.  Make the core business better first.  Quality versus quantity.  What are you doing to make EE better?  What is EE doing better than everyone else?  That should be first.
Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
Kasey

I disagree with your premise that "STEM education is growing rapidly" .. on what basis do you determine this?  All information I've seen indicates that in Europe and USA the science and mathematics qualifications now form a smaller percentage of the graduate cohort than they have ever done in the past and it is in Asia, in particular, where the STEM subjects hold sway.   It is fair to say that western governments are trying to increase uptake on STEM subjects in school and colleges but its not necessarily evident that this is succeeding.

"How can EE support STEM as a great learning resource?"
It's not really a useful query, as serialband and others point out in previous comments, EE is a Q&A forum for the most part and far from a coherent learning resource.  You can ask and find solutions to specific problems (sometimes) but its not a "learning resource" except in the most broad sense of the term "learning".  You ask a question, you get an answer, you "learn" something but that's not anything on the same scale as a properly setup and mediated elearning platforms of which there are many out there.
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