In addition to his regular duties as STEM program manager, Daniel Olsen has taken on an exciting role at Kennedy-King College this summer. He is an adjunct professor for a summer course, Introduction to Programming – Python. This course is for rising high school juniors and seniors who are eager to learn more about coding and get a jumpstart on their college credits.

While Olsen enjoys his current program management role at Lumity, his passion began in technology and creative work. This position at Kennedy-King gives him the chance to dive back in and use his technical skills.

At this point, Olsen has nearly completed the six-week course. He has learned a lot during his time with the 19 students. His big takeaways are:

  1. Educators must be flexible. Olsen had a perfectly crafted lesson plan for the first day of class, but quickly realized he needed to adjust everything. Now, each two-hour class is a mix of short lecture, practical exercises, group work, presentations, programming and gaming.
  2. While students today are digital natives, most of their experience is mobile. Some of the tasks professionals and professors take for granted, attaching a file to an email for instance, is not naturally part of a student’s skill set. Don’t assume students know everything about technology just because they’ve grown up with it.
  3. Traditional teaching models needs to evolve. Students need hands-on learning and an open environment to ask questions and make mistakes. There are other ways for students to learn practical skills (i.e. MOOCs,, Treehouse) so make sure you’re adapting to their learning styles in the classroom. You’ll quickly lose their interest otherwise.

Overall, Olsen is blown away by his students. Their interest in the subject and their progress in just a few weeks is extremely rewarding.

To share more about Olsen’s work and Kennedy-King College’s program, a future blog post features a student, Czar Carson, a recent graduate of Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy in West Englewood.