Yes, this title is correct. Perhaps some readers will remember a blog that I posted eleven days ago about the deteriorating infrastructure of U.S. schools. TodayI am going to post some information about how individual schools can be helped by contributions through one online organization, DonorsChoose.org.
“Teachers across the United States use DonorsChoose.org to raise money for individual projects that they wouldn’t otherwise be funded by their schools. Some have sought money for technology upgrades, classroom basics (like notebooks and paper), and creative ideas you most likely wouldn’t have thought of. The website allows you to find projects in your area.”
Make America Great Again!
P.S. I will be back blogging next week, on May 2. Have a great weekend!
So here’s another challenge to Make America Great Again. Make all our schools physically sound and safe. I know that from the federal level, and in some states, we have been focusing on the importance of bringing technology into our classrooms. This is critically important in the twenty-first century, but we also have to ensure that our schools are not crumbling around our students and teachers. The current White House resident has talked about improving our highways (still waiting?), but I hope that he can also add improving America’s schools to his “to do” list. Time may be getting very short.
Please have a look at this article from yesterday’s New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/reader-center/us-public-schools-conditions.html, which depicts some of the most egregious conditions from around the country. Our students and teachers deserve better. Can this President help?
“About five million K-11 students in the United States do not speak English fluently and their numbers are growing fast. While these students currently make up 10 percent of the total student population, researchers estimate that they could make up as much as 40 percent by 2030.
Schools around the country are turning to technology to help them better serve these students (and their parents) – whose success will increasingly drive graduation rates, test scores and other school-quality metrics – and to help connect with their families. In the classroom, computer-based programs can give students additional support as they work to master the vocabulary and mechanics of English. ELLoquence, IStation and PreK12Plaza are among those that let students move through lessons at their own pace (this is not an endorsement from TechtoExpress).
Many more schools serve immigrants now than ever before, and digital technology can offer effective ways to reach them (Tara Garcia Mathewson, NY Times, 4/8/18).”
I guess the title of this blog is not a real “attention-grabber” but it is still very important if we want to better understand how technology is playing an increasingly important part in reading instruction. Here is the link if you would like to read the complete report: https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018017.pdf. The report focuses on reading achievement levels across fourth graders in sixteen countries and their proficiency in reading ONLINE.
In terms of the percentage of fourth-grade students who performed at an advanced level, the United States was the fourth highest in reaching this level. Students in Singapore, Ireland, and Norway tested higher on this online measure of informational reading (ePIRLS, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). “The report has at least one silver-lining: Students in the United States fared far better on an Internet-based version of the assessment that tested their ability to process information online. U.S. students placed fourth out of 16 education systems that participated.”
Unfortunately, for American students who are reading in a more “text-based” manner, the results are not as high when compared to their international peers. They dropped to 13th place. “The decline was especially precipitous for the lowest-performing students, a finding that suggests widening disparities in the U.S. education system (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017).”
P.S. Please have a look at mypeacecorpsstory.com, podcast #018, where I discuss my “technology-free” Peace Corps years in India
So it’s only a game as they say, but the geopolitical implications seem obvious. This board game is called Go and I have seen it played in parks around Hanoi, but please don’t ask me to explain it. But I will quote from a article by a Hong Kong reporter that might help shed some light. “Go, in which two players vie for control of a board using black and white pieces called stones, is considered complex because of the sheer number of possible moves. Even supercomputers cannot simply calculate all the possible moves, presenting a big challenge for AlphaGo creators.” But AlphaGo developers did accept the challenge and created the software that makes this game available online.
So far, AlphaGo seems to be the undisputed “artificial intelligence” champion, only being beaten once by South Korea”s Mr. Lee. China’s Mr. Ke seems more resigned to only playing against human opponents. He noted that he would focus more on playing with people saying that the gap between humans was becoming too great. He would treat the software as more of a teacher, he said, to get inspiration and new ideas about moves. Or maybe he should say that he has finally met his match, but when his “match” is basically artficial intelligence, it just may be too hard to admit defeat by a software program? Somehow this all sounds vaguely familiar, like Dr. Frankenstein being outsmarted by his own “monstrous” creation.
AlphaGo is also demonstrating an ability to learn from its gaming experiences. It is not just calculating moves, but learning from its own experiences. That is something that we can all benefit from, so that we can remain smarter than our machines, I hope.
P.S. Happy Memorial Day weekend. Be back on the 31st.
Outsourcing knowledge to Google keeps you away from learning things the right way. Don’t take my word for it. Psychological researchers have been studying the effects on internet dependence on the human learning process. Take your ability to remember, or learn things the right way so that you can recall them at will. And on a personal note, this seems to get harder as you get older. So if you want to stay younger mentally, using Google may be a handy tool, but still keep using your own mental faculties if you want to have people think you really know what you are talking about. How old is Donald Trump? Seventy? He seems to like Twitter better than Google, but he still might like to use it if he wants to fact-check something. I just don’t think he worries about those bothersome facts that much. He does use the TV to watch FOX news, right?
“Using knowledge in the head is also self-sustaining, whereas using knowledge from the internet is not. Every time you retrieve information from memory, it becomes a bit easier to find it the next time. That’s why students studying for a test actually remember more if they quiz themselves than if they study as they typically do, by rereading their textbook or notes. That parades the right ideas before the mind, but it doesn’t make them stick in the same way, you won’t learn your way around a city if you always use your GPS, but you will if you work to remember the route you took last time (NY Times, 5/21/17).
“But why do I worry about all this? And why does Donald Trump come creeping back into my mind. Maybe it is the fact that he is not the “fake President.”
Ours is now a world of constant communication. We can reach colleagues, friends, and family in an instant thanks to our technological connectivity anywhere from wherever we may be. It’s hard to imagine that it has not always been this way. And as teachers struggle with implementing technology in their classrooms in the most advantageous ways for all students, they often find technology getting in the way. With students’ heads bowed scanning the screens of their iPads or other digital devices, teachers must often compete for some modicum of attention for a lesson they are presenting.
Maybe there’s really nothing new about this classroom phenomenon. Teachers have been competing for students’ undivided attention since the days of Aristotle but the most consequential outcome in the digital age may be the loss of students’ conversational and broader social skills. As one writer expresses it: “Kids have to use their five senses, and, most of all, they have to talk to each other.” In a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study across more than three dozen countries (not including the United States), moderate computer use in school results in modest academic gains. More frequent or heavy computer use has a negative impact on student learning.
So students in the digital age may actually be learning less as they use their computers more. Besides turning off or moderating their use of digital devices, what should these young people do. Maybe have a face-to-face conversation with someone?
Monday will be Memorial Day in the U.S., and we are all reminded to take time to remember those who are no longer with us, and perhaps spend more time with those who are the most important in our daily lives. Perhaps the title of this blog deserves some explanation in this respect. “TechtoExpress” is not only intended to reflect an “express” mode in the rapidity of our dealings with others. It surely has that capacity in terms of how quickly we can communicate on any topic with anyone in the world. Technology also empowers us with many more tools to “express” our thoughts and emotions using new powerful digital tools. More expressive opportunities are now available for more people, who may become the new “artists” of a new century.
Happily we can also now connect with family and friends even when we are not able to be with them personally. Such tools as FaceTime and Skype enable us to do that in real time. So let’s always remember those we love and those who loved us and now live in our memories. And be grateful for the technology that enriches our daily lives so that we can “be” with those we love in so many ways.
Many worry that technology is rapidly accelerating our loves so that we have less time to spend with our closest friends and family members. I don’t think it has to be that way. Do you?
Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
So now there are a lot of ways to communicate globally. Thanks to the Internet we may no longer have to write and read to connect remotely with colleagues, friends and family wherever they may be. There are now many interactive technological tools that enable us to make these connections without being literate. The telephone may be the most universally used in this respect.
Let’s consider some of the implications for students in learning about the world around them. If we replace the book with the digital tablet, are we promoting electronic imagery and sound over printed text and individual imagination. I recently read that college textbooks were still coveted by students for digesting and reviewing subject matter presented in their classes. Perhaps this is not very scientific evidence in support of the best methods of learning, or maybe it is more an indication of how lecturing is still the most dominant pedagogy on college campuses? Could it be that real learning is not going on in the classroom, but on the Internet or with the multitude of digital tools that today’s students possess if they are connected and affluent enough to possess.
The real issue may still be more about an economic divide than a digital one. But as the title of this article suggests, we can still connect globally in a number of ways. It may all be a matter of how fast you want it to be, but in this new century, speed makes all the difference.
So life is full of many choices, and now we have all have a very critical ones to make. Would you like to live in a virtual or real world? A bit oversimplified I agree, but we do now have choices that did not exist until technology came along and made it at all possible. The virtual world may be rapidly becoming the world where we spend much of our waking hours where we work and play online, communicating with increasing ease and access on a twenty-four hour basis. In a certain sense we can create our own realities in the choices we make. This was hardly an option that earlier generations had.
Technology can also be a tool that enhances the breadth and meaningfulness of our personal and professional lives. But access alone does not guarantee this. I think one of the “twenty-first century skills” that our students and all families must now learn is the prioritizing of our time so as to maximize our life experiences in both worlds. I am also concerned that many children’s realities are exclusively contained in the four walls, or stories, of their family homes. Ironically it may be the technology that confines them there physically when the World Wide Web can take them anywhere virtually.
Of course there is always the experience of attending school in a building with other students and teachers. This reality is also changing with many variations and permutations of how and where students can attend classes, from elementary school through higher education. Technology has again made this all possible. A flexibility that surely benefits and enables access for many more learners. While “old school” advocates may decry such alternatives in learning, this is a “twenty-first century” reality that may make the biggest difference of all.
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Thanks for your patience as I learn more about Word Press