LST Alumni

Where are our students now?

Click on each person's name to learn more about them.

Lee Tae Cobb

M.S. Ed., LST, August 2014

 
Q: Can you briefly describe your background before coming to Penn GSE?
A: I was previously in the digital initiatives department of the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI), working on digital projects and films to highlight voices that could not be heard in popular media.

Q: Why did you choose to study at Penn GSE, and in particular, your program?
A: I chose to study at GSE because I got to experience games in learning environments when I visited Games for Change. TFI gave me opportunities to survey the digital world and I felt that digital environments could teach. My job did not really address the education of children, so I wanted an opportunity to combine two of my interests. 

Q: What was your experience in the program like? How did you interact with faculty members and other students? Did you conduct research or participate in any special projects or internships?
A: The program was initially a very intimidating experience. Working in the real world, I had forgotten how to sit in class. I did finally get into the hang of it, because I fell deep into the readings. What I enjoyed most about the program is that I felt I participated more than I ever had in any kind of environment. I got to use the readings and my real life experiences. This passion I had then created great relationships with the faculty. Not only did I work closely with professors on my academic work, I also worked as a Graduate Assistant. I helped organize meetings, which allowed me to meet a lot of professors I would have never met. I also was able to work with Dr. Puckett on MOOC development, which combined my interests.

Q: What do you think makes Penn GSE and your program unique?
A: I think Penn GSE, though large in size, is small. I really never had that school spirit until I came to Penn. It’s the enthusiasm the professors and students have for something new that makes Penn unique. Dr. Puckett is an example. In his work the MOOCs, he values students’ work and ideas and takes their voice into account. That is extremely important in education.

Q: What would you say are the best aspects of the program?
A: The program highlights each student and encourages us to work together. 

Q: Where do you work now? What do you do there?
A: I am the Program Manager and Research Assistant at a nonprofit start-up in Philly. My programs focus on decision-making and skills for middle schoolers. 

Q: How has graduating from the program at Penn GSE influenced your work and/or your career?
A: I would have never thought I would enjoy research, but studies help drive our programming. Also, LST allowed me to go into the Philadelphia out of school time field. I now work closely with people I had met or had heard about. 

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Marcus T. Wright

M.S. Ed., LST, August 2014

 
Q: Can you briefly describe your background before coming to Penn GSE?
A: I'm a Philadelphia native; I've been here all of my life except for my time at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) where I earned my Undergraduate Degree in Sociology ('06).  Prior to Rutgers I graduated from Girard College, a 1st-12th grade private boarding school in North Philadelphia.  I started working at Penn in 2010 as Administrative Coordinator to the Chair of Sociology (Dr. Tukufu Zuberi at the time) and one year later was accepted into GSE.

Q: Why did you choose to study at Penn GSE, and in particular, your program?
A: I've always had a strong interest in education, and have worked in educational institutions (K12 and Higher) in some form for nearly my entire career.  Penn GSE's offer of the Learning Science & Technologies program really intrigued me because I knew it would allow me to learn more about three of my biggest passions - learning, education, and the creative use of technology.  Particularly, I felt that this program was extremely important because of the ongoing societal question of: What should learning and education look like in the 21st century?  I wanted to contribute to this important conversation while learning more about my passions, and Penn GSE provided the perfect place to do this.

Q:  What was your experience in the program like? How did you interact with faculty members and other students? Did you conduct research or participate in any special projects or internships?
A: I spent three years in the program as a part-time student while working full time, so it was a bit more challenging for me to connect with the students and faculty.  I had to really work at it, but I think I finally figured out how to have those closer connections in my 3rd year.  One of the major decisions that helped with this is the opportunity I had to be Internship Program Mentor for other students in the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership division. This helped me to feel much more connected to the student body and the purpose of the institution as a whole.  Helping my fellow classmates with best practices for leveraging their internship experiences was very fulfilling for me.

Also, my time as Admissions Ambassador for GSE Admissions further helped me to feel that I was contributing to the school's mission.  I had the opportunity to blog for them about being a part-time student while working full time (even using the blog to interview people such as Dean Andy Porter!). Also, I helped lead a few open house events, in addition to meeting and communicating with prospective students throughout the year.

Q: What do you think makes Penn GSE and your program unique? What would you say are the best aspects of the program?
A: I absolutely love the Learning Science & Technologies program. I can't stress this enough. I think it's the right program at the right time.  Technology is changing the possibilities and dynamics of teaching and learning (formally and informally), so it's important for a program like LST to thrive. I've heard that the program has expanded greatly this year, which is wonderful news. It was very, very small when I first started over 3 years ago. 

The best aspects were definitely my conversations with Dr. Yasmin Kafai; I went into those conversations with maybe 5 brand new things to talk about every single timeand she helped me navigate those things.

One other thing: in my third year, there was a certain feeling in the air that the momentum for the LST program was increasing.  In the midst of that, everyone in the program bonded really well; it felt like we were all a part of something big and that we were in it together. I'd say that we were like brothers and sisters. I really believe I made some friends for life in that program. 

 Q: Where do you work now? What do you do there?
 A: I am continuing in my role as Administrative Coordinator to the Chair of Sociology (now Dr. Emilio Parrado) at Penn, but now I am doing a lot more in regards to Communications and Technology for the department.  Also, I recently began a position as Adjunct Professor at Holy Family University, currently teaching Communication Research Methods.

I also hope to use what I learned in the LST program to participate in the conversation on how to create modern learning environments in informal educational institutions such as museums and libraries.  This would include how to strategically integrate technology into these learning environments, and how these environments can be designed to cultivate and develop 21st-century skills.

Q: How has graduating from the program at Penn GSE influenced your work and/or your career?
A: I believe that graduating from GSE has provided me a great foundation to work with for the remainder of my professional career.  It's helped me to establish a fantastic network within Penn and in Philadelphia (such as the Philadelphia EdTech Meetup), and also connected me to several colleagues that I hope to sustain lifelong friendships with. There's no way you can go to a place like Penn GSE and not come out a different person. I feel more confident and ready to impact the world thanks to my experience in Penn GSE, and for that, I am truly grateful.

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Chia-Wei Wu

M.S. Ed., LST, August 2014

 
Q: Can you briefly describe your background before coming to Penn GSE?
A: I was a high school chemistry teacher before I came to Penn GSE. At my teaching position, I recorded my classes and uploaded them to YouTube. I also founded a non-profit online learning organization called, JSchool, for students to learn chemistry for free. Within three years, there were more than 200,000 views of JSchool's video lecture on my YouTube channel. After the successful pilot, I knew I needed to learn more about online, distance, and web-enhanced education, to really succeed.

Q: Why did you choose Penn GSE?
A: I knew I wanted a program that taught people how to integrate technology in formal and informal learning environments. The LST program offered what I was looking for. It delivers the knowledge of how people learn and how teachers teach while best using technology. In addition to that, the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership division also provides the opportunities for students to do internships during fall and spring semesters to expand their horizon. 

Q: What was your experience in the program like? How did you interact with faculty members and other students? Did you conduct research or participate in any special projects or internships? 
A: There were five of us, and we were able to work really closely with the faculty. Dr. Yasmin Kafai, Dr. Susan Yoon, and Dr. Veronica Aplenc were always very responsive. They made time for me, and provided me with a lot of resources.

I worked on a research project with Dr. Aplenc. I also interned with BioEYES, a research partnership that developed genetics curriculum for the School District of Philadelphia.

Q: Where do you work now? What do you do there?
A: I am the Associate Director of Online Curriculum Design at Penn Dental Medicine. I work with faculty to improve their online courses, introduce blended learning concepts, and help them flip their classrooms.

For example, we record every class at the dental school so students can review them online. We then analyze how the students use the video — where do they pause it, where do they rewind — to develop better curriculum so students have a better learning experience.

Q: How has graduating from your program at Penn GSE influenced your work and/or your career? 
A: I majored in chemistry as an undergraduate. I learned how to run an experiment, but GSE taught me how to develop research and present it in an academic paper.  I also learned a lot from my cohort members. We all came from different backgrounds, film, science, and music. We shared those experiences and really helped one another.

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